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Report: Bettman told players some GMs would welcome chance to “dismantle” teams

Jan 4, 2013, 1:31 PM EDT

Gary Bettman Getty Images

As you probably know by now, yesterday’s CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA did not go well.

The most widely reported blowup occurred when the players accused the league of trying to change the penalties for hiding HRR without alerting the players to said changes.

But according to the league’s favorite reporter*, Larry Brooks of the New York Post, here’s another thing that happened:

Gary Bettman infuriated players across the table from him at NHL headquarters on Thursday — and, by extension, NHLPA membership — by claiming that a number of general managers had told him they regret some of the contracts they’d previously handed out and would welcome the opportunity to “dismantle” their teams in order to meet the steep drop to the league’s proposed $60 million cap for 2013-14, sources have told The Post.

The players responded with a mixture of anger and skepticism, demanding to know the identity of these alleged GM’s. Bettman refused to name the straw men in seeking to counter the players’ position that adopting a $60M cap — even with two amnesty buyouts — would be punitive against big-market, big-spending franchises.

To be perfectly honest, we’re not sure why the NHLPA would be skeptical that some GMs would welcome the opportunity to buy out certain players with no salary-cap consequences.

What, the players are shocked Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin would want to cut Scott Gomez loose without getting hit with a cap charge of $4.4 million for 2013-14 and $1.5 million in 2014-15? After all, it’s not Bergevin’s money the Habs would be paying Gomez to not play.

And the players can’t believe the Rangers would choose to save a few million bucks by buying out Wade Redden without taking a cap hit? Imagine how Glen Sather feels whenever he’s chatting with ownership about that contract.

If a GM is going to hate anything – and maybe this is the point the players were trying to make – it will be getting rid of (or not being able to sign) players he wants to keep in order to comply with a reduced salary cap. Because there’s no doubt a $60 million cap for 2013-14 would force some GMs to make a tough decision or two.

Take a team like the Canucks. Sure, they could buy out Keith Ballard. But even if GM Mike Gillis managed to trade Roberto Luongo, would he have enough cap space to re-sign Alex Edler next summer?

*In case you couldn’t tell, we were being sarcastic.

Related: $60 million cap? Here are 10 teams that could be in trouble

  1. killerpgh - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Maybe the owners should hire better GM’s then.

    • mpg44 - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      Cause players and their agents had nothing to do with driving up the contracts too !? Both sides are guilty !!

      • doubles22 - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        What? Agents trying to get their clients as much money as they possibly can?

        Oh, the humanity!

      • msmarph - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        By that logic I suppose you’re going to ask your boss for a pay cut because you feel guilty contributing to the overall rate of inflation. Blaming the players and GMs equally is ridiculous. No one’s holding a gun to the heads of the GMs, and based on past history, football, hockey, baseball, etc, they should’ve known better than giving some of these players outrageous contracts after one of two good or just decent years. They have no one to blame but themselves; not the players. Tell me you wouldn’t take twice your salary to work somewhere else if offered; or if you asked your boss to double your salary and he said yes, would you turn it down? No, of course not. To blame the players is BS. Yeah, they make a lot more than most (all) of us, but in the end it’s still worker vs boss. The same dynamic that most of us have to deal with.

      • davebabychreturns - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:36 PM

        You do realize one side of the equation is explicitly interested in higher player salaries and the other side is explicitly against that.. right?

        The players are guilty of escalating player salaries, but owners (and the GMs who act on their behalf) are guilty of escalating player salaries in direct conflict with their own interests.

        In other words yeah Matt Stajan signed a bigger contract than he should have got, but not only did the Flames offer a contract that big.. they offered it to Matt freaking Stajan.

    • anotheryx - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      While everyone could use better GM, that’s not really the point. With higher cap there is more margin of error, so GMs can (and should) take bigger risk in hope of bigger reward. Some of them doesn’t work but hopefully there are also as many which provided good value. With lower cap, the margin is no longer there, mistakes that previously could be absorbed before are no longer sustainable.

      • rtookey - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        what they should do is take the previous cap (70.2) and since they propose lowering the cap to 60, develope the % and lower ALL players salaries by the percentage. that way, not players need to get bought out or manditory lowering at the next signing. The problem is, that no player would wrap their head around how that benefits the teams and league issues.

      • woodstakes - Jan 4, 2013 at 5:56 PM

        @rtookey Quite possibly the worst idea I have seen posted in here in quite some time. The ONLY thing that saves the bottom franchises is NO SALARY FLOOR and REAL REVENUE SHARING.. player salaries ARE NOT the root of the problem. The locations of certain markets are, so if their (owners) choice is to keep these teams where they are then THEY need to find a way to keep them afloat.

      • jtrain1966 - Jan 4, 2013 at 9:44 PM

        I can tell you this much ; As a St. Louis Blues fan, i’m happy as hell with Doug Armstrong ! I’d be pissed as hell if the ownership group in St. Louis fired him !

  2. 13datsyuk13 - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    I doubt Ken Holland would want to buy anyone out. He has methodically built his team. Players have given discounts to stay and super stars are signed to long term deals. It can be done, blowing up the league because of bad contracts is the fault of bad GM’s, bad owners, and players.

    • shoobiedoobin - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      Problem is, the NHL has become a microcosm of America-no child left behind, and in this case, no team left behind. The artificial parity has made it so that every team has a chance to contend and you can predict the changes with the sunrise. And every GM is now being given a free pass so the useless ones can keep up with the great ones. Why even bother being like Holland and building a team with intelligence, cunning and foresight when you can grab a bailout in the CBA?

    • timmmah10 - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      Ken Holland would most assuredly love to get out from under Franzen’s bad long term deal, since he’s not the player they thought he was. They would not have use for the second buyout, but most likely Franzen would be blown out with the first.

      • danphipps01 - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        Yyyyeah… power forwards just don’t have the shelf life to be signed into their mid-thirties. If you can’t pot sixty points a year skating on Pavel freaking Datsyuk’s wing, you’re just not first-line material – or at least not anymore.

      • ThatGuy - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        Was just going to post this. I would imagine they don’t want Franzen until he is 40 anymore.

      • tmoore4075 - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:18 PM

        I wouldn’t count on that one. They would pay him 22.5mil to not play or pay him that to score around 30 goals for a 3.9mil cap hit? Sure they would like more from him but I can’t see them finding a 30 goal scorer for the less than $4mil they pay him now on top of having to pay him that $22.5 they still owe him.

  3. klownboy - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Or maybe the NHL should hire a better commish. Damn Bettman…

  4. nach0mancandysandwich - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    I can’t believe how loose a guy like Bettman is with his backhanded comments. Way to be professional Mr. Commissioner. Did he think that comment was constructive? If he doesn’t want a deal than break off talks, but if he does want a deal then you can’t burn it all down with stupid comments.

    • calithirteen - Jan 4, 2013 at 4:16 PM

      How can you even be shocked by Bettman’s comment…..he is a lowlife and was put in this position by the greedy owners to destroy the players union. These owners are so blind to whats really go on it’s comical. How they think they can make bad contracts n then back out of them while also complaining that smaller market teams are struggling as a result of player greed is a joke! Yet they refuse to acknowledge the big elephant in the room which is revenue sharing of tv market rights across the league similiar to the NFL would give all teams a better financial leg to stand on and become more competitive. Bettman is scum and so are these owners……if this season is really lost I hope somehow that the KHL can really take off and pull in more talent from the NHL. Then let me hear Bettman complain of how the owners are struggling.

      • mgdsquiggy17 - Jan 4, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        You are really trying to compare the NFL TV deal to the NHL? That is beyond laughable. The NFL is HUGE and something the NHL will never get close to getting in any TV deal.

      • calithirteen - Jan 7, 2013 at 12:49 AM

        you completely missed the point. Yes the NFL is huge..the biggest sport in the world. My point is they wouldn’t have a financially competitve league that they do if they didn’t share tv deals like they do…….It would be more like baseball. The NY Giants and Jets would have the lionshare of tv revenue while small markets like green bay would have nothing. Thats what the NHL has. The rangers, bruins for example have great tv deals while a team like Columbus or Carolina have small ones. They don’t make as much money as the big ones. I guess this was too big for you to understand.

  5. kitshky - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    I don’t think the reality that some GM’s would love to be able to buy out a few contracts without penalty is the same as them wanting to dismantle their teams … to the point of blowing off the entire season (and perhaps more) never mind the irreversible damage it would do to the league.

    To come back at the last minute with changes to HRR, (an issue that was supposedly settled) trying to hide clauses that would give the owners the ability re-open negotiations, and then quoting anonymous GM’s as some kind of straw man justification … is kind of the epitome of negotiating in bad faith.

    I know it’s been said so many time that’s its nothing more than a tired cliche by now … but Bettmans gotta go.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      Yep. If the season is lost the one thing that might make it okay for me is if the next time the puck is dropped in an NHL game, Gary Bettman wasn’t the commissioner of the league.

      • calithirteen - Jan 4, 2013 at 4:23 PM

        I hope your right but don’t be so sure. Remember Bettman is in this position because the owners wanted him here. He’s not a dictator more like a puppet doing the work of the owners. If he cancels the season, it would be what most of the owners want which is insane but so was locking the players out in the first place.

    • jtrain1966 - Jan 4, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      The last line of your comment is true . You know that there’s an old saying : If it looks like it, feels like it, smells like it, then it probably is it ! Use whatever word you want to describe Bettman, but he has with his dealings made the players more money than any commisioner on record . Even though, he is #%*+HEAD !

  6. elvispocomo - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    That’s my thoughts as well (your last few paragraphs after the quote) and it seems like once again the select owners with the most control are driving the bus on this one. It’s not for the betterment of the low income franchises, who’d benefit from not only a lower cap floor, but also an opportunity at some players teams don’t want to get rid.

    Consider the Canucks example. They’d likely have to decide between trading Edler (a pending UFA under the current rules) for picks/prospects/a lower income roster player or losing him to free agency if they can’t fit him under the $60M cap. The other option would be to use the proposed 2nd buyout on a player like David Booth, who is a good player but not as attractive to teams on a budget due to his $4.25M salary for two more seasons after this one.

    You can bet the Canucks would like to keep both, and that a lower cap team would love to spend to get either (maybe a lot for Edler, and a little for Booth). Some good players will end up going to lesser teams, which creates more parity, which is what Bettman and the NHL really wants rather than financially successful teams across the league.

  7. gvbulldogs - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    You guys keep hanging on to a pipe dream, the faster you come to grips with the fact there will be NO season you can move on, this could possibly go into next season, I love hockey but I seen or heard enough from these greedy b*stards.

    • timmmah10 - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      This will NOT go into next season. The players union will file a grievence, and that will most likely create a governed mediator situation, where an agreement will be reached.

      But you can enjoy your negative life while checking this HOCKEY blog, which you are admitting that you also have the “pipe dream” that you condemn when you take the time paying attention to the blog and also take the time to comment on it..

      Grow up.

    • shoobiedoobin - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      You don’t think part of what you’re saying is just you trying to brace yourself a little? You’re not just trying to rid yourself of disappointment now rather than hold onto hope and feel it later? It’s over when it’s over, not when you feel too emotionally vulnerable.

      • danphipps01 - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        Heh. Well-said, shoobie.

  8. johngaltx - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Here is what to do:

    Blow up the the league, all players, all teams, all contracts.

    Play every fours years, have a giant draft, or lottery or something. Unlimited spending, unlimited backstabbing and side deals. Have a huge tournament with group rounds, round robins and playoffs. Two teams left standing play for the cup. Do it every four years and pretend there is still a lockout for the other three.

    Awesome—I am a labor genius.

    Dear NHL and NHLPA, use my idea and it will cost you each $10 Million. Cash. Small bills. Delivered in one of those fancy aluminum cases. And an order of nachos.

    • elvispocomo - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      I’m surprised you didn’t ask for the cases to be numbered with varying amounts inside and delivered by pretty women in fancy dresses.

      • thailer35 - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:49 PM

        Clearly didn’t think this through enough.

  9. boondocksaint7 - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    He talks big and likes to threaten teams but has no real power. He should work for the NCAA.

  10. gvbulldogs - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Timmah age 10 that comment of yours just shows that 1st your a stupid f*cm, 2nd you don’t know if they will settle,3rd your a stupid f*ck my comment said possibility it could go that long. thank you.

    • rockthered1286 - Jan 4, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      Hate when I sound like a stupid f*cm…

  11. chiadam - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    The point is being missed. It does not matter if some GMs regret certain contracts. What I want to know is why, in a continuing childish fued between two sides that CLEARLY hate each other, did Bettman say it? What was he hoping to gain? He’s started brush fires throughout this process with his mouth.

    • thailer35 - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      ” in a continuing childish fued between two sides that CLEARLY hate each other”

      I think you answered your own question there.

    • calithirteen - Jan 4, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      Bettman said this because he and the few powerful owners of this league are prepared to cancel the season. This is a chicken match that’s getting down to wire to save this season and Bettman is doing his best not to flinch.

  12. jimw81 - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    is there anyone else gary can throw under the bus?

  13. joeyashwi - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    I actually had hope. I forgot that Bettman was involved. My bad.

  14. bostonboy82 - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Someone’s going to assassinate Bettman.

  15. treydogg97 - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    Stop it Gary, you’re upsetting the podium.

  16. xjokerz - Jan 4, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    I AGREE!
    get rid of half the teams in the Southern part of the country..

    • calithirteen - Jan 4, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      exactly. move the southern struggling teams and Columbus to more northern and canadian cities like Seattle, Portland, somewhere else in Michigan or the Wisconsin, Toronto…………….CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW WE HAVE A TEAM IN COLUMBUS, OH AND NOT QUEBEC????

  17. rockthered1286 - Jan 4, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    I have one hope once this lockout ends and it’s simply that one goalie, don’t care which one, gets a picture of Bettman’s face painted on the side of the mask, complete with devil horns, arrow through the head, blacked out tooth… I figure if he can be so childish there’s no reason the players can’t be as well.

  18. sportsfan69 - Jan 4, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    It’s amazing how many players are this blog right now. May I suggest you read the book – Instigator.

  19. sportsfan69 - Jan 4, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    As many bloggers has suggested that if the Owners set the salaries for the players, then the players will sue the league for collusion like our wonderful Donald Fehr did in 1995 with Major League Baseball.

    The owners realize their dealing with a pet pull who’s sole purpose to drag this lockout as long as possible with NO ending.

    If the league cancels the season, then next year the league files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, then ALL players Guaranteed contracts are cancelled too.

    Be careful what you wish for, it may happen. Or even worse, the elimination of 6-8 teams. That only 200-250 player jobs lost. ??????

  20. xaf605 - Jan 4, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    This is just stupid!

  21. steelers88 - Jan 4, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    There will be no NHL season this year or next year or ever again!

  22. sportsfan69 - Jan 4, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    I concur. The reason the NFL is so well established with its product, because NFLPA works with the NFL as a partnership.

    Hint, hint…..

    • calithirteen - Jan 7, 2013 at 12:55 AM

      the NFL almost had a work stoppage. The difference with those owners n the NHL owners is that they realize that make $7 billion a year and it would be stupid to lose even 1 game of a season let alone the whole season. Since the NHL has a longer season, the owners obviously believe that they can drag this out and try to get everything that they want n still have a shortened season that makes money

  23. northstars17 - Jan 4, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    northstars17 January 4, 2013, 6:06 AM PST

    I like Sellane’s optimism, but unfortunately he’s wrong. We won’t see hockey until next Fall. I’ve talked to a few very respected people in this business who’ve said it’s just not going to happen. This CBA is a lot further to being complete than what people have been lead to believe.

    Do you really think the NHL will settle the CBA dispute and start the season less than 2 weeks after what was supposed to be their biggest game of the year financially, the Winter Classic? Do you really believe the 2-3 MAJOR issues will be settled in just mere days? Let alone the other 4-5 issues that also need twists and tweaks… it’s just not going to happen.

    The NHL and NHLPA have made this interesting enough to follow, but boring enough to forget about for a while. Do you really believe its this difficult to come to an agreement, and they’re willing to lose and ENTIRE season of revenue because of it?

    They won’t officially cancel the season until the beggining of February, but everyone will know well before the. the gig is up. Remind you, the 04/05 lost season wasn’t officially cancelled until the middle of February. By then fans will only look forward to the upcoming return of hockey season, and the owners know the demand will be even higher. They know there is damage being done, but their going by history which shows increased fan support and sales after a major strike or lockout. Sorry to be the bearer of bars news but you already know this if you’ve been following this circus charade, or lack thereof should I say. But stay tuned… you might as well ride it out for one more week if you’ve been along for the ride these last 3 months!

  24. northstars17 - Jan 4, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    ^^^and AGAIN… I don’t mean to he negative …but let’s just say I’ve heard this directly from a few scouts of a very respected team in the league, and former player himself who is now involved on the business sides of things present day.

  25. northstars17 - Jan 4, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    A deal is not going to happen this week that’s one thing I know for sure. I also know most of you naysayers will be the first to attend games when they resume next Fall. I’ll admit I’m one of them. I’m not going to let these greedy executives ruin my game of hockey. I will support my team, there is no other sport like hockey, especially live. I’ll try to watch as much free hockey as possible, but ill be attending live no doubt about it.

  26. bigbadbruins77 - Jan 4, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    I would want to blow up my team too if I was the habs, flyers, caps, or leafs 😉

  27. boondocksaint7 - Jan 4, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    Bettman kills dreams and kittens. So I’m told.

  28. omniusprime - Jan 5, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    The way the negotiations are going it looks like the GM’s, owners and players are more interested in blowing up the NHL. They made great progress yesterday, towards ending the sorry excuse of the NHL season. Now GM’s fret over those idiotic big contracts they offered up, now they want to renege. Just shows how corrupt these deadbeats are.

    The smartest move that hockey fans can make is to declare the NHL dead to them and look for better hockey alternatives. Women play much better than men, must be that lack of testosterone, since they actually play hockey. The NHL plays by only one rule, the Head On rule – Hockey Stick – Apply Directly to the Forehead!

    I’m waiting with anticipation of them having to admit the season is toast in about 10 days or so, that will be the best thing that could happen to dimwitted NHL fans. Then y’all can get a life.

    Na na na na, Na na na na, Hey-ey Goodbye!!!

  29. steelers88 - Jan 5, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Cmon Bettman grow up!

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