Sens sound off on Bettman

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

The reaction was swift and it was relayed with an inflection of unforgiving bitterness.

Shortly after commissioner Gary Bettman cancelled what was left of the NHL season yesterday, Senators players unloaded their cannons.

"It's an atrocity. It's terrible," said defenceman Curtis Leschyshyn, who played for Ottawa last season. "I really believe it's the responsibility of the commissioner to do everything in his power to try to put the game on the ice.

"I just don't think that happened here. I feel as players we did everything we could to try to get a deal done and I don't think we got the same thing from the commissioner. I just don't believe the arguments he's made and I don't believe every effort was made to make a deal."

Many players believed that once the union gave in on the salary-cap issue they would be playing hockey this year. A number of NHLers playing in Europe were already making plans to come back to North America as the gap between the two sides appeared to be closing.

But following an ugly exchange of letters Monday between the NHL and NHLPA -- Bettman's take-it-or-leave $42.5-million (all terms US) cap offer and union boss Bob Goodenow's $49-million counter-proposal -- all bets were off.

"Even though the players are sad (that they're) not going to play, most of them are happy that (the season has) finally been cancelled," Senators captain and NHLPA executive committee Daniel Alfredsson said last night.

"It's been strange in the last 24-48 hours because we were really surprised when the league agreed not to have a link with revenues and that's why we showed the goodwill to get a deal done. If we had another week or two weeks, maybe we could have done something. It was a big gap. It wasn't close and there was still a lot of money."

Alfredsson said he's been busy answering calls from players who want to know why the union gave in on the issue of a salary cap.

"All the players agree we couldn't go lower than $49 million. Some guys were surprised, but they were supportive of the position we took. Everybody said we did the right things," said Alfredsson.

PHILLIPS 'REALLY UPSET'

Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, who has been in Sweden since November, was certain the players had done enough to get a deal done.

"I'm really upset," said Phillips. "I thought that after I got over the initial shock of the fact that we offered them a salary cap, that would be enough to get a deal done. After everything we've gone through, I just thought something would happen.

"It seemed to me like we should have been able to find a common ground. We gave them cost certainty, we gave them a 24% (salary) rollback and a new system. There are so many ways we tried to make it possible to play this year. To have this happen and to have the season cancelled is very frustrating."

Senators centre Mike Fisher was disappointed, but not entirely surprised.

"I just heard the bad news," Fisher from Zug, Switzerland. "I was kind of prepared for this and I thought it was going to come, but I never thought it would come after what's happened here.

"It's disappointing that it has come to this. This is going to be tough on a lot of people. A lot of the guys playing in Europe really felt that this was going to get settled and we could back to playing. That's why this is tough."

WAGES OF MASS DESTRUCTION

Following is a list of what Senators players would have earned (all terms US) if there had been a 2004-05 season:

POSITION /PLAYER /SALARY

Goalie - Martin Prusek $935,000

Goalie - Dominik Hasek $2 million

Centre - Jason Spezza $1.130 million

Centre - Todd White $1.3 million

Centre - Vaclav Varada $1.6 million

Centre - Mike Fisher $1.36 million

Winger - Bryan Smolinski $2.7 million

Winger - Chris Neil $700,000

Winger - Antoine Vermette $675,000

Winger - Marian Hossa $3.45 million

Winger - Peter Schaefer $1.2 million

Winger - Daniel Alfredsson $5.435 million

Winger - Martin Havlat $2.3 million

Defenceman - Anton Volchenkov $1.2 million

Defenceman - Wade Redden $4.7 million

Defenceman - Greg de Vries $3.1 million

Defenceman - Chris Phillips $2.3 million

Defenceman - Zdeno Chara $4.6 million

Defenceman - Brian Pothier $625,000


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