Breaking Sports

Sunday, June 12, 2005

nhl- What's Going on Gary?

from Larry Brooks and the NY Post (reg. req.), It is time for Gary Bettman to take a pause from his duties as CEO of the owners and act for a moment as NHL commissioner.
Even as the league and the union continue to make steady progress hammering out the CBA that will deliver the end of the lockout that's just four days shy of nine months — C-section, anyone? — confusion dominates the NHL landscape.
Is an agreement imminent or isn't it? Have the cap numbers been agreed to or haven't they? Are the parties now dealing in specifics on the systems issues or are concepts still being debated? Can this possibly still fall through at the last moment?
Has the league been furnished fixed deadlines by advertisers and network sponsors? What's the implied pressure to complete the deal in order to begin the complicated relaunch process by the beginning of July so that 2005-06 can open on time? Once an agreement in principle is reached, will that be announced, or will the parties wait until they have a completed document to distribute for ratification, or will they wait for ratification itself?
A depleted hockey nation turns its lonely eyes and ears to Bettman, who, just as he was during the 24-hour Feb. 18-19 re-cancellation firestorm, is publicly invisible and mute; who, not surprisingly but disappointingly, just the same, simply won't give hockey's constituency a clue what to expect.
Bettman has a responsibility to hold a non-partisan press briefing in order to paint broad strokes for a public that's exhausted by the shenanigans that have diminished the league. No one expects Bettman to prematurely discuss the fine points of the negotiations, but it would sure be fine if he could step out of his NHL blue suit and educate the fans on the broad strokes of the environment.
And what Bettman should announce — right now! — is that the NHL has tentatively scheduled its 2005-06 Opening Night for Wednesday, Nov. 2, in order to give the league all the time necessary to, a) adapt to a complex CBA that will create a chaotic summer under the best of circumstances; and, b) conduct a logical, creative and intelligent re-launch on...