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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

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