Bettman feels “terrible” about impending lockout, but owners have their reasons

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And then it was Gary Bettman’s turn to explain why the NHL is headed for a lockout.

The commissioner took to the podium Thursday in New York shortly after his NHLPA counterpart held a press conference touting the union’s position.

According to Bettman, there’s unanimous support from the owners for not starting the season without a new CBA in place. Which is to say, unless the players move off their position, there’s going to be a lockout when the current agreement expires Saturday.

In justifying the owners’ demands, Bettman referenced the NBA and NFL, whose players recognized the need to “retrench” and accept a reduction in revenue share.

Bettman’s also not willing to apologize for trying to rework the current agreement, arguing that agreements have terms for a reason.

Regarding the NHLPA’s latest proposal, Bettman said it was unacceptable to the owners because it did not result in “a reduction in real dollars” of player salaries.

When asked how the owners could justify signing players to contracts and then asking them to take less in real dollars (i.e. losing money to escrow), Bettman reasoned that there was no “perpetual entitlement” to the 57 percent share of overall revenues the players currently receive.

He also questioned the union’s revenue growth projections in its proposal, suggesting they were unreasonably optimistic and, as a result, misleading.

When asked if he has a message for the fans, Bettman would only say: “Nobody wants to make a deal and play hockey more than I do. This is what I do. This is what my life is about…This is very hard and I feel terrible about it.”

Here’s the full presser:

Related: NHL vs NHLPA — Breaking down each side’s proposal