NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the media Thursday night, sounding frustrated at some points and outright furious at others.
He summed up this week of the lockout — and basically this entire process — when he described what’s happened as “an emotional roller coaster.”
Bettman said that the owners had a sense of optimism on Tuesday. However, that “almost inexplicably disappeared” on Wednesday.
Part of the problem, from the owners’ perspective, is that they put an additional $100 million on the table and the union’s response was “shockingly silent.” That left the owners “beside themselves.”
Bettman said that the NHL was willing to make certain concessions if the union moved towards the owners in three areas: five-year player contract limits, a “longer the better” CBA, and compliance issues related to transitioning to a new agreement (e.g. buyouts, cap on escrow).
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that contract lengths in particular are “the hill we’ll die on.”
When the union came back with a counter proposal, rather than a yes or no response to the league’s key demands, the NHL promptly rejected the offer.
On top of that, the NHL has pulled the concessions that they made over the past week off the table. That includes the Make Whole proposal in its entirety.
Bettman accused NHLPA excecutive director Donald Fehr of “spinning us all into an emotional frenzy” by claiming that the two sides are closer than the league feels they are.
The commissioner is “disappointed beyond belief that we are where we are tonight.” (On that point, there aren’t likely to be many dissenting opinions.)
Now the question is how much time is left before the 2012-13 campaign is lost entirely. Bettman suggested that a season must be at least 48 games for it to be viable.
“We are where we are, as horrible as it is,” Bettman said.