Tuesday, February 15, 2005

NHL MAKES ITS "FINAL OFFER"

BETTMAN TO GOODENOW: DROP DEAD

This just in: NHL has told the media now that it is making a new proposal, and with a cap figure increased to 42.5 million in salary, 2.2 million in benefits. Total, 44.7 million. And ominously, they are calling this their final offer.

This was outlined in a letter from Gary Bettman to Bob Goodenow and it sure sounded like a drop-dead type of letter to me. Take it or leave it, no room for negotiation, with language in it of "it will only get worse for the players". The usual pro-owner propaganda. And Bettman outlined all the damage being done to the league and the rest of it. And Bettman hopes to hear from Goodenow by 11AM tomorrow.

Wow. Yikes. This sounds like an ultimatum to me. This is really scary. Bob McCown is on the air with his show, calling this the "end-of-the-season" letter.

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WELL, HERE WE GO. THIS REALLY, TRULY IS IT. THIS TIME. AT LAST. And I'm really worried about this. The players from what I heard aren't even interested in going close to 42.5 million. I heard someone say the players won't ever agree to any deal lower than 46 million. At a bare minimum.

Mind you, Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks called that proposal they bandied about last week their "last best proposal". They could be lying again about this being a final offer. But it sure sounds as if this is the final offer from the looks of it. And there's no deal at all here by the looks of it. He's looking for Goodenow's complete capitulation. I'm expecting the players to come right back with another counteroffer tonight and I'm expecting the league to reject it and we'll have a major mess on our hands. I think we're seeing a big game by both sides respecting the possibilities to have an impasse declared and I think the union is trying their best to ruin the league's case by negotiating.

We're at a critical stage of the negotiations, and frankly I think they could completely fall apart. It sounds to me like this offer is an insult. There's no way Bob Goodenow can take this offer. If I were in Goodenow's shoes I'd refuse this deal and send them another counteroffer. Frankly, I'd still find it hard to believe that a potential deal to save the entire National Hockey League season would fall apart over money. Especially after they bridged the divide on the SALARY CAP.

By the way Sportnet now has a countdown clock on their webpage counting down to the cancellation-of-the-season drop-dead press conference by Bettman. They are milking this for all its worth.

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