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Players haven’t been instructed to “demonize” Bettman, says NHLPA

Nov 14, 2012, 4:33 PM EDT

Gary Bettman AP

The NHLPA denies that players were instructed by union leadership to “demonize” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and tells the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman that any suggestion otherwise is “absolutely false.”

The union’s denial came shortly after Friedman reported that “people across the league” believe NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has waged a concerted PR war against Bettman.

And why would anyone ever think that?

Well, perhaps because players have been saying stuff like this:

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

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

“Gary has forced the players’ hand into this situation and frankly, he’s [ticked] us off. I think at the start, that first offer they gave out, that was a big, big mistake on Gary’s part.” – Shawn Horcoff

Intentional or not, it’s Bettman’s name (often his first name, which seems to add an extra bit of sneer) the players keep referencing, not the names of the individual owners that employ Bettman and sign the players’ paychecks. (Wild defenseman Ryan Suter publicly called out Minnesota owner Craig Leipold, but then quickly recanted.)

So even if Fehr didn’t tell the players to target Bettman in their comments, it’s not hard to understand why those on the commissioner’s side may feel differently.

  1. coreydm80 - Nov 14, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    That’s how everyone feels. The players are the only ones heard. Not us fans

  2. rpiotr01 - Nov 14, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    No one needs to be told to demonize Gary Bettman. Look at his record, see where the game has gone under his guidance and then tell the truth. He’s an incompetent boob with little knowledge of, or respect for, the game he leads. Fans and players alike see through him.

  3. danaking - Nov 14, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    The players don’t need to go out of their to make him the bad guy. He gets booed in every building in the league, even when he’s holding the Stanley Cup. Just calling someone a Bettman to his face can get your ass whipped in at least 30 North American cities.

  4. noisetheorem - Nov 14, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    I don’t think Gary needs any help being demonized. He does a great job all on his own.

  5. tomnickle - Nov 14, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Really? A better example would be Fehr, Crosby and Giroux standing on a stage and announcing to the media that they refuse to negotiate until Bettman is no longer Commissioner.

    Something that a lot of people would be in favour of.

  6. bigoldorcafromvan - Nov 14, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Do you people know why the two groups have the problem of splitting the 3.3billion in HRR is from. If the league kept going in the direction it was going before Bettman became commissioner the league would be long gone. I am not a Bettman fan by no means, but it is bussiness sense and guts that built the league revenue to where it is today.

    • mpg44 - Nov 14, 2012 at 9:08 PM

      Which now is a redundant point . They don’t have 3.3 billion to split up anymore!

  7. stakex - Nov 14, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Say whatever you want about Bettman, but this whole thing is a business fight and a lot of the comments from the players have been very un-professional.

    I don’t like Bettman myself, and I hate him for reasons other then the lockout, which is not his fault no matter what some of you people like to think. I think he should have been fired a long time ago. However I can say that becasue I’m not an NHL player. Players shouldn’t be pissing in the company pool like they are….

    • mpg44 - Nov 14, 2012 at 9:09 PM

      You are very wise sir!

  8. id4joey - Nov 14, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    I don’t care for neither side in this conflict. What pisses me off is the fact that no one has been designated as the custodian of the game. Years and years of history being tarnished by this conflict. Ownership using strong arm tactics because they can’t control their urge to spend, and constantly looking for loopholes which in the long run negatively affects the financial balance of the business. Players hell bent on getting a full year’s salary regardless of a shortened season. I’m still hopeful we’ll have a season. It would be an insult to the trail blazers of the game if another season would go by without crowning a SC champion because of a lockout.

    • mpg44 - Nov 14, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      The players demanding a full 82 games worth of pay for a shortened season is quite possibly the big load of you know what I’ve heard since the lockout began . Really show just how far out of reality they are.

    • woodstakes - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      You guys can’t possibly be dumb enough to actually believe that statement from the league on the whole “we want our $1.9 billion EVEN if there isn’t a full season…” garbage do you?? That’s a PR ploy by the league plain and simple. Ever since they had their little conservative spinster group do that focus group they’ve been constantly “leaking” things out just to make a) them look better and b) the players look worse. Be realistic all the players want is that their current contracts get paid, that the owners loosen up a bit on the contract restrictions and have already agreed to get to 50/50 split as long as they get the contracts they have signed honored.

      I don’t see whats so f-ing difficult about that. It surprises me everytime I see someone post something about what the league/players leak out. Its a PR move, look at the beginning of all this, the NHL didn’t release a thing about their 1st or 2nd offer, both of which were ridiculous but I digress, then they have this little focus group… realize they look like asses and are loosing BIG TIME to most of the fans, then all of sudden with in 7 days come out with another deal. A much more realistic deal (using the first 2 offers as the bar to move from albeit) and they make sure to release it to ALL the media and even post it right up there on the NHL website in a nice clear dumbed down language. Boy, WHAT A COINCEDENCE!! Give me a break. These guys are NOT that far apart, someone just needs to give a little, the players agreed to give up 7% of the revenue, in my opinion its the owners turn, relax a bit on the contract issues. Get the contracts to a length of 7-8 yrs max, make it so the difference from year to year is no more than somewhere between 10% variance, keep the entry level contracts where they are and keep all arbitration rights the same while moving UFA up to 28 or 8 years. Boy, thats so hard!! The owners get virtually everything they wanted in ALL the major issues here!

  9. dlk75150 - Nov 14, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Fehr is just as guilty if not more so. This is who the players should blame he had the opportunity to negotiate last season and wouldn’t, self centered idiot only out for what he gains not in the best interest of the players. The players should pay their part of this years losses

  10. dyrdom77 - Nov 14, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    I’m not a Bettman fan, but let’s be honest not a one player lost money since last cba…actually they are all making more…

    but to correct errors which have been done by him or by owners on players expense is not right thing to do too

  11. pastabelly - Nov 14, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    Bettman really needs to shoulder so much of the blame here. This happens under his watch in the NHL all too often. The owners and Bettman really seem to have wanted the lockout more than the players.

  12. amehta256 - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Ugh, how is this lockout about Bettman? It’s the idiot owners who want more money.

    • mpg44 - Nov 14, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      Is it not the players who want a full years pay for a shortness season this year if a deal is made . Sounds like the players are certainly doing a good job of being greedy also!!

  13. flyeredup - Nov 14, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    C’Mon NHL! Cancel! No more Hockey Ever! I love the lockout!

  14. id4joey - Nov 15, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    woodstakes, excellent post. You wrote ‘all the players want is that their current contracts get paid’. Doesn’t this mean they want their contracts respected in whole for whatever games are played in 2012-2013? I think so. Hence the 1.9 billion reference.

    • woodstakes - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      id4joey.. I believe what they are saying is if you to get paid $X Million for this season (82 games) that would be $X dollars per game. So if we play 62 games we want to get paid the same $X per game we would have made if we played 82 games. I really doubt they want to get paid what they would have been paid in a full season. I believe the league intentionally leaked that the players want “full payment …” garbage as a ploy to attempt to make the players look as ridiculous as the offers the league has made thus far. As I stated earlier, ever since that spin group did their thing, the league has been leaking out garbage like this.

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