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Briere: “We’ve all heard that Gary thinks the fans don’t matter”

Aug 30, 2012, 1:40 PM EDT

Danny Briere AP

What were once fairly cordial CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA are starting to get…less cordial.

Earlier this week, Minnesota forward Zach Parise took a sneering shot at league commissioner Gary Bettman.

“We’re ready to play. We want to play,” said Parise. “But Gary’s pretty adamant about his third lockout of his tenure.”

Yesterday, Flyers forward Danny Briere took his own shot at the commish: “We’ve all heard that Gary thinks the fans don’t matter. They’re gonna be back whenever we need them. I think that says it all right there from their end.”

Briere was presumably referencing Bettman’s comment that the NHL recovered from its last lockout because it had the “world’s greatest fans.”

Now enter this report from CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty, who quotes “a source with knowledge of the negotiations” that’s none too impressed with the owners’ latest proposal.

“[The NHL] took a really [expletive] proposal and made it a little less [expletive],” said the source. “But that still makes it pretty [expletive].”

If we had to guess, we’d say the source is an agent, not a player. But even if it’s just an agent – or whoever, really – it’s clear the dispute is starting to heat up as the clock starts ticking louder.

Despite it all, Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey is trying to stay positive.

“We’re still talking every day. There’s been movement — whether it’s been significant or meaningful or hopeful, I’d rather not attach a word to it,” Hainsey told the Winnipeg Free Press. “But we’re still talking, we’re still scheduled to talk every day for the rest of this week and then after the holiday weekend the rest of next week and tentatively right through [to the Sept. 15 expiration of the CBA when the owners are expected to lock out the players].”

Related: NHL, NHLPA not expected to meet today

  1. dumptrucked - Aug 30, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Really screw the owners, this isnt a situation where the players want more, the players were happy to exend the current deal. This is really an issue of infighting amongst the owners, big markets vs. struggling small markets. The league really is too big, the need to contract the bad markets losing money and go to a revenue sharing platform that is a bit more fair. As far as contracts are concerned, i dont care if a team signs someone to a 15 year deal… It is a business decision and the contracts are guarenteed so the it is a classic risk/reward situation.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Aug 30, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      I agree with you on that this is becoming a battle of big/small market teams. However, NFL and NBA both negotiated new CBA’s where the players are getting 53% of the total revenue. Why should a sport (albeit my favorite) that isn’t near the same popularity as the NFL or NBA get more?

      Whether you agree or disagree, we can both agree it’s ridiculous that a sport that lost its championship due to labor dispute, is about to have another lock out. It should have been a minimum of 10 years if you lose your championship.

      We know there needs to be revenue sharing, and the cap needs to be like the NFL where there is a car floor and ceiling cap. If you start getting into luxery taxes, then just cancel hockey because 5 teams would then matter.

    • icyirish - Aug 30, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      this is bettmans 3rd lockout: hes ruined the game I played and loved all my life. Do you realize guys like terry oriely rick toccket ,bobby nystrom and many more would not make it today because when they came up they were fighters who later developed into good players. Whats a ny lawyer doing running a mans game.i will never forget my rangers winning cup and bettman saying mark messier please come get your stanley cup.Thats when I named him wimpy for life.

      • tealwithit - Aug 30, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        Well… Bettman also studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell. And he’s not just running amuck, calling off seasons because he thinks it’s funny. He answers to the owners, and it’s his job to look out for their interests, and the well-being of the league. While a lockout is obviously going to be damaging to the NHL, so is having almost 2/3 of the league losing millions of dollars each season. Only 11 or 12 teams actually make an operating profit. And you can bet the rest of the owners are demanding that Bettman make some changes.
        Want to destroy the NHL altogether? Hire a “hockey guy” who knows very little about business or law to be the new league commissioner.

    • tealwithit - Aug 30, 2012 at 4:37 PM

      A contraction means quite a few hockey players will be out of a job. I don’t think the NHLPA would be all too happy about that.
      As far as absurdly long contracts… Everybody loses. Teams are on the hook, players can’t be sure they’ll be happy there long-term, and fans are missing out on more exciting free agency periods. Plus, shorter contracts provide more incentive for players to play their best, and for teams to ensure their players are kept happy (if they want them to resign).

      • Jay - Aug 30, 2012 at 6:45 PM

        Well said tealwithit. It is about time someone told these complainers who have no idea what they are talking about, the way it really is. Bettman looks like the bad guy, but he’s not. There is just so much more that the average person of average intelligence will never understand. All they can see is that they need someone to blame. Hockey is a business. It is not easy job being in the middle of players, fans, and owners. If a ‘hockey’ guy ran the league, the entire game would go bankrupt, there would only be a couple of teams left, the market would dwindle, the players would lose big money. Everyone would lose money. Bettman has tried to make it financially feasible. It’s not easy to do. It’s not easy to make new fans. As if one guy is the cause of everything wrong with the league! C’mon, grab a brain! lol

      • tealwithit - Sep 2, 2012 at 1:42 AM

        Fans form opinions – strong opinions – very quickly, and they’re driven by emotion rather than factual information. They see the headlines and read some of the articles and then they take a side. Very few fans actually take the time to do some research, find some writers or insiders who provide a different perspective, and then make an informed decision. Sadly, the same is true for most sports writers. They don’t know much about business operations or the economics of the league, but that’s okay – They can just quote Fehr and the players, call Bettman a liar and point to his salary and his lockout record, and top it all off with a photo of Bettman looking especially weasely or ridiculous. Fehr and the players have launched a campaign in the press and social media to paint Bettman as the villain (See Parise’s and Briere’s statements), and it’s worked so far. I just wish people would use their common sense a little more before accusing Bettman of being the only thing standing between them and the hockey season.

      • phillyphanatic76 - Sep 3, 2012 at 5:17 PM

        Jay- I understand where you’re coming from when you say Bettman’s not the bad guy and it’s not at all easy to run an entire league. But it was his decision to expand into non-traditional hockey markets where the average sports fan will NEVER spend $50 to attend a hockey game and sit in the nose bleeds. That is a major contributing reason to why most of the league is struggling financially despite $3.3 billion in revenue last season. When you put teams in Tampa Bay, Florida (miami), Nashville, Carolina, Atlanta (twice, both complete failures), Dallas, Columbus, San Jose, Anaheim, and Phoenix it dilutes the league’s talent base and causes other teams to struggle as well. I have nothing against those teams or their fan bases but there are just not a lot of hockey enthusiasts in those markets. Like you said “its not easy to make new fans”, yet Bettman keeps trying to force hockey down the throats of the average sports fans. The reason why most hockey fans dislike Bettman is because he is so condescending when it comes to us, the people who pay the ridiculous ticket prices, not to mention the prices of concessions and team apparel. He doesn’t give two SH*** about the people that pay his $8million yearly salary and that’s why he’s the bad guy. If so many teams are in the red then how about they take a long look at their own business practices? instead of just saying they’re entitled to an unfair piece of the pie and the players are SOL.

  2. isithockeyseasonyet - Aug 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Well said

  3. windmiller4 - Aug 30, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Its looking like i might have to start watching khl, any ideas of what team i should cheer for?

    • juzzi7 - Aug 30, 2012 at 3:29 PM

      First you can try to find a team which has a name you can pronounce.
      Then there is the bandwagon.

  4. sippindasyzurp - Aug 30, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    I know most will disagree with me but the reality is NHL players are getting paid way too much and with the revenue at 57-43 for the players how can you blame the owners wanting a new deal? The CBA has expired, this is where you re-evaluate and negotiate.

    Take a look at Forbes list from last year regarding NHL revenue numbers per team… LA, NSH, WSH, PIT, SJ all were in the red… Can you blame the owners for wanting to re-negotiate??? Would you want to continue to run a business that is constantly in red figures???

    The bottom line is the players need to look at the last deal as a gift from the owners, and realize that if they want to be back on the ice playing hockey again then they need to take a 50-50 split at minimum..

    The fact is Billionaires can sit out longer than Millionaires, eventually the players will cave, and snap back to reality that they are playing a sport and getting paid pretty well (still) while doing it.

    Feel free to thumbs down, and rip me apart now.

    • Eberwizzle - Aug 30, 2012 at 3:40 PM

      I wish I could go into my boss’s office and say “lets split 50/50″ and still have a job!

    • freneticgarfieldfan - Aug 30, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      “The fact is Billionaires can sit out longer than Millionaires” – exactly. Those who will suffer most are the non-player employees.

    • mpg44 - Aug 30, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      Well said !!!

    • chrisvegas - Aug 30, 2012 at 4:43 PM

      I disagree. The players are the ones sacrificing their bodies and heads with injuries. They deserve the cut that they get because they are the ones who are risking their own health. You act like owners own the game of hockey, what do the owners do? Nothing more that merits a bigger return then they are getting. We the fans pay the revenues. We buy tickets and merchandise. Some of these teams that a struggling are because they are managed poorly. They don’t market well or they pick bad markets to put a team in. We the fans are the ones getting screwed. How many more lockouts do we have to endure before the owners get it right? I’ve been through enough lockouts, the next may be my last.

      • hazlydose - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:10 PM

        What do the owners do? You mean the men that have invested millions upon millions of dollars so you can enjoy the game of hockey?

  5. mydadyourmom - Aug 30, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    that’s it for me if i suffer through a 3rd lockout. bunch of f**king pricks.

    • chrisvegas - Aug 30, 2012 at 4:36 PM

      I couldn’t agree more. If there is another lockout, I’m not coming back for a long time.

  6. phillyphann83 - Aug 30, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    eberwizzle, I’m pretty sure noone is doing business with your boss just because YOU work there.

  7. lockdown27 - Aug 30, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    “But we’re still talking, we’re still scheduled to talk every day for the rest of this week and then after the holiday weekend the rest of next week and tentatively right through [to the Sept. 15 expiration of the CBA when the owners are expected to lock out the players].”

    Isn’t it ironic that they are taking Labor Day off? Considering there is only two more weeks until the players are locked out you would think they would work through Labor Day to get a labor agreement.

  8. barkar942 - Aug 30, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    I personally think that both sides should just shut up when it comes to the media, and they should stick to talking to each other to get a deal done!
    I personally don’t care what the players say- I don’t care what the owners say- stop trying to posture yourselves to the press and fans and GET A FRICKING DEAL DONE!

  9. chrisvegas - Aug 30, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    I agree with Briere and Parise. That is the attitude of the owners. I was on the owners side last lockout, but this time around the owners are flat out greedy.

  10. manchestermiracle - Aug 30, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    In any negotiation it is usually a bad idea to use a public forum to demonize the other side. Are the owners being petulant/regretful of the previous deal/obstructionist? Obviously. Are the players taking the high road? Some are. A few, like Parise and Briere, aren’t helping their cause very much. If this results in a lockout there will be plenty of blame to go around, on both sides.

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