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SBD/September 25, 2012/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
The NFL referee situation "reached a critical mass" with last night's Packers-Seahawks game, and there is "no question that the league has to swallow its pride and do something that Commissioner Roger Goodell simply doesn't want to do, and that is to give in more on negotiations than he's had to do with either his TV partners or the players," according to NBC's Peter King. Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, King said, "It was only a matter of time before something like last night happened." Host Matt Lauer asked, "So your message to Commissioner Goodell this morning is 'Pick up the phone, get this done?'" King: "Absolutely. I think that's the message of 1,800 players in the NFL, it's the message of all the coaching staffs. I think they have to give in on a major issue like pension, and they've got to get this settled this week" ("Today," NBC, 9/25). In L.A., Bill Plaschke in a plea to Goodell writes, “Give it up. Settle this labor dispute. Settle it now. Your power play didn't work. … Prove that you really respect the game more than you need to win this labor fight.” He adds, “End this lockout before it further damages the season while indelibly staining your legacy” (L.A. TIMES, 9/25). ABC's Josh Elliott said, "For the good of the game, the integrity of the game, and the safety of the players, get the referees back on the field" ("GMA," ABC, 9/25).
TIME TO END THE LOCKOUT: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes the NFL’s “integrity just got body-slammed because a heritage franchise, the Packers, had a victory taken from them that will go down as one of the greatest miscarriages of football justice.” The ball is “in Goodell’s court now,” as suspect officiating has “finally cost a team a victory.” Goodell has to “end this ugly spectacle because the NFL is officially looking like a laughingstock in the eyes of a lot of people” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 9/25). In Seattle, Steve Kelley writes as “great as this win was for Seattle ... the final play was a huge embarrassment for the league.” This is the “result of the deal with the devil the NFL made.” The Seahawks’ win “should be remembered as the Hail Mary that ended a labor dispute” (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/25). The AP’s Jim Litke writes of last night’s game, “If you tried to stage a photograph to symbolize the confusion that's dogged the NFL and its games since commissioner Roger Goodell let a lockout of the regular officials spill over into the regular season, you couldn't have done it any better.” If the NFL “were a hamburger chain, Goodell would have been fired on the spot” (AP, 9/25).
LEAGUE DAMAGING THE BRAND: ESPN's Trent Dilfer said the commissioner's office for 10 years "has been coming into these NFL locker rooms saying, 'We’ll do anything to protect the shield, anything. We will exhaust every opportunity to protect this brand.' It’s ironic that you, the NFL, is what’s screwing this brand up.” He added, "At some point, pull your head out and realize what you’re doing to the game” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/24). FOXSPORTS.com’s Bill Reiter writes, “This, Roger Goodell, is what you’ve wrought: The low point of the NFL. A great big heaping pile of dog doo staining the shield. A multibillion-dollar game that has turned from national obsession to total mockery in a few short weeks” (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/25).In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes, “So how do you like your league now, Roger Goodell? … Your scabs have now bled all over your product. Congratulations” (N.Y. POST, 9/25). SI.com’s Chris Burke writes, “Who knows what was going through Roger Goodell’s head on Monday night as he fiddled while the integrity of his league burned to the ground” (SI.com, 9/25). GRANTLAND.com’s Charles Pierce wrote Goodell “should take his entire 2012 salary and split every dime of it up among the players in the National Football League, because they are the ones he's putting at risk and they are the only ones keeping the NFL from descending into a form of opéra bouffe that would embarrass roller derby” (GRANTLAND.com, 9/24).
MAKE GOOD, GOODELL: YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel notes it is the “owners who employ Goodell,” but at “some point, Goodell has to lead his bosses.” A great commissioner “doesn't stand around and let his league continue on as a laughingstock.” This is Goodell's “Heidi game, a forever blemish he'll never live down.” Wetzel: “The replacement ref experiment is a disaster. It has overwhelmed the league. It's overshadowed strong play. It's turned Goodell's vaunted shield into a joke” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/25). ESPN's Bob Ley wrote on his Twitter feed, "Goodell's 'Heidi game'? it's worse. equivalent to Rozelle allowing NFL to play days after JFK assassination. great legacy carried scar 4ever" (TWITTER.com, 9/25).
The fallout from the Seahawks' last-second win over the Packers amid a controversial decision by replacement officials has intensified calls for the NFL to end the lockout of the regular referees. In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes the NFL became the “National Football Joke now, officially, at the end of Monday Night Football, in front of the country.” The replacement officials have “now turned the biggest, richest sport in the country into a cheap, carnival sideshow.” The result of this game goes on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s “permanent record now,” as these “scab refs in 2012 are costing his sport its reputation” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/25). In Boston, Christopher Gasper writes unless “the league blindfolds everyone who watches its games, it can’t do what it desperately wants to -- conceal the farce that the use of replacement officials has become” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/25). YAHOO SPORTS’ Michael Silver wrote under the header, “NFL Must Put End To Farce With Replacement Refs” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/24). In N.Y., Filip Bondy noted if Goodell and the NFL owners “thought they could get away with this nonsense for another month, then this past weekend surely opened some eyes and wallets.” Two or three results are “being sabotaged every week” by the replacement officials’ calls, and the refs “deserve the treatment, every last boo.” Bondy: “Nobody forced these replacements to step in and babysit the jobs of the regular referees who have been locked out.” The replacement refs “ought to be booed for enabling this lockout, and we ought to root for them to fail miserably” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/25).
MAKE THE CALL: ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert writes, “Can we now, in unison and without debate, agree that the NFL's plan to replace its locked out officials has failed spectacularly and embarrassingly, undermining the credibility of the league and finally -- after two months of nervous anticipation -- directly impacting the outcome of a game?” (ESPN.com, 9/25). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch writes the “blowback was so intense -- and no doubt will continue to be -- that it could have been the tipping point for the owners and their point man, commissioner Roger Goodell, in the nearly four-month labor dispute" (N.Y. POST, 9/25). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said, "It feels like something irreparable changed last night" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 9/25). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay writes the NFL’s replacement refs are the “great 2012 boondoggle.” The NFL is a league that “forever prided itself on rigid, institutional composure,” but it now has a “self-inflicted mess.” The league with the referee “fiasco, the meandering Saints bounty case and the continuing anxiety over player safety -- not unrelated topics, by the way -- it is showing signs of fraying” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/25). However, CBS' Jeff Glor notes the NFL "is not a league that gets bullied." Glor: "Even after what happened here, and even if you think the refs have more leverage this morning, which they clearly do, (a resolution) may not happen right away" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 9/25).
WHAT’S THE MESSAGE? SPORTS ON EARTH’s Joe Posnanski writes if last night’s ending “doesn’t end this farce, then it’s clear that the people who run the NFL have simply decided that they don’t owe the fans, the players or anyone else legitimacy” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 9/25). CSNBAYAREA.com’s Ray Ratto wrote of NFL owners, “In fighting so stridently and arrogantly for so little money, they are upholding a principle that is near and dear to them -- their right to win everything, every time” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 9/24). In Oakland, Monte Poole notes the league “has been telling itself and anyone lending an ear that the folks in stripes don't matter.” That message is “an intelligence-insulting lie.” Poole: “We long ago realized there are no limits to how far the NFL will go to protect and preserve its precious bottom line” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 9/25). ESPN's Trent Dilfer said, "I’m angry because the NFL has insulted my intelligence. ... They are trying to tell us it’s not that big of a deal. We have a multi-billion dollar machine and we’re letting this ruin it. It’s tearing the fabric of the game.” ESPN's Steve Young: "We’ve built something great and we’re not surrounding it with partners that are competent to do the same job as everyone who has put the time and effort over a long period of time over the years. ... The NFL is too good for this, it’s too big for this and it’s hard to watch" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/24).
BIG STAGE: SI.com’s Michael Rosenberg wrote, “We have all seen officials have bad games. We have even seen bad officials. This is different, and unlike anything I can remember.” The replacement officials “are overwhelmed,” as they “look like they spent 20 years riding a bicycle and now they have to fly a plane, and they keep looking around the cockpit for the handlebar brakes.” Rosenberg: “I don't think it is a coincidence that some of the worst officiating by the replacements has been during nationally televised games. The bigger the stage, the more nervous they must get” (SI.com, 9/24). CBSSPORTS.com’s John Breech writes the refs “really couldn't have had a worse game on Monday.” It was “ugly in the first half, it was ugly in the second half, it was ugly when the game was over and then it was ugly when the game really wasn't over because the Seahawks had to come back on the field to attempt their extra point following the controversial game-winning touchdown” (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/25).
ACTUALLY DRAWING INTEREST: In Toronto, Cathal Kelly writes the “bumbling of the replacement officials has thus been a boon to the league so far, giving it a moment of comic relief between main acts.” The NFL is “so financially hearty, that pause could last months.” Kelly: “As outrage goes, interest surely follows. There has never been a more fascinating time to follow the minutiae of an NFL game.” The main part of the NFL’s “brilliance in handling the controversy has been its arrogance.” The league “hasn’t attempted to damp down the fury,” as it is instead “lovingly repeating every screw-up” (TORONTO STAR, 9/25). The NATIONAL POST’s Bruce Arthur writes this is “spinning into a remarkably profane infinity.” NBC’s Cris Collinsworth during Sunday's Patriots-Ravens broadcast “gamely tried to cast it as the rough-and-tumble 1970s reborn and [though] he couldn’t keep that line of argument up, he worked pretty hard at it for a while.” Arthur: “Yes, people kept watching. In fact, the follies almost made the spectacle more compelling” (NATIONAL POST, 9/25). A Baltimore SUN editorial states the NFL “seems highly uninterested in settling the dispute” with the NFLRA, “probably because the standoff hasn't cost them in fan attendance or TV ratings so far and probably won't no matter how long this drags out.” The editorial: “If anything, the chaos on the field has only added to the spectacle of a sport that relies on spectacle” (Baltimore SUN, 9/25). In DC, Cindy Boren wrote, “When TV ratings drop? When people tire of watching refs hash out their calls? The lockout is already affecting the quality of their TV product” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/24).
NFL Exec VP/Labor & General Counsel Jeff Pash yesterday in a memo sent to NFL teams wrote that “significant economic and noneconomic differences remain” between the NFL and the NFL Referees Assocation, according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. The memo stated that the league “told the officials union and a federal mediator who joined the talks Sunday that it was prepared to make ‘reasonable’ compromises on economic issues in exchange for operational changes that the league is pushing for because it believed they would improve the quality of officiating.” But the memo “also makes clear that the biggest economic sticking point remains: the referees continue to seek the continuation of a traditional pension plan for existing officials, which the league wants to eliminate and replace with a 401(k) plan.” The officials, “who the league said had earlier indicated a willingness to work on a seven-year deal, now want it to last six years” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/25).
PLAY ON: Redskins player reps said that “nothing had been discussed as far as a potential boycott to protest the replacement officials.” Redskins LB Lorenzo Alexander said, “I don’t know if we can do that, though. That’s against the CBA, the collective bargaining agreement. Guys refusing to go out there and play would cost a lot of guys a lot of money as far as feeding their families. I don’t see us ever doing that” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/25).
CROSSED A FINE LINE: USA TODAY’s Mike Garafolo reports Broncos coach John Fox was fined $30,000 and Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $25,000 “for their antics in a Sept. 17 loss” to the Falcons, but those numbers “might pale in comparison with the latest round of coaching discipline coming soon.” Patriots coach Bill Belichick “could be in for the stiffest fine yet and a possible suspension” under an NFL rule that “prohibits coaches from touching officials.” Belichick grabbed an official following Sunday’s game against the Ravens, but he said yesterday, “I’ve coached in this league a long time and never been penalized, never had any incidents with officials or anything like that” (USA TODAY, 9/25). Belichick added, “When the game was over, I went out and I was really looking for an explanation from the officials as to whether or not the play was under review. I did try to get the official's attention as he was coming off the field to ask that, but I really wasn't able to do that.” (ESPNBOSTON.com, 9/24). FOXSPORTS.com’s Jen Floyd Engel writes, “At some point this week, Belichick or a press release purporting to reflect his thinking will be trotted out to say how sorry he is, how wrong he was, that no matter how emotional he was he should never lay a hand on an official, that replacement refs are doing the best they can and that the league is right to vehemently defend them. It will be a lie, and Belichick should decline to be a party to it. No apologies, no shucking for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, no more excuses for the travesty that has become replacement officials this season” (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/25). However, USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell writes, “Coming on the heels of a behave-or-else edict by the NFL, his grab must be punished severely. ... If Goodell doesn’t punish Belichick with a stiff fine -- and a suspension should not be out of the question -- the credibility of the commissioner’s office, already weakened by the assorted twists of the bounty scandal, will sink to a new low” (USA TODAY, 9/25).
ONGOING PROBLEM: The N.Y. TIMES' Battista notes Belichick was "merely the latest football figure who seemed to be at wit’s end about how to live with the replacements.” Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan earlier on Sunday followed officials “down a hallway at FedEx Field” after the Bengals-Redskins game, “shouting profanities all the way” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/25). ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano wrote, “This is just the latest deepening of a stubborn, stupid hole the NFL has dug for itself as a result of its continued lockout of the real officials” (ESPN.com, 9/24).
MONDAY NIGHT BLUES: Following the Seahawks' controversial 14-12 win over the Packers last night, Packers TE Jermichael Finley said, "The commissioner has to come and pay a visit here. Something's got to be done. I'm not trying to bash anybody, but they cost us a game” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/25). Seahawks TE Zach Miller said of the ending to the game, "That hurts the game. The sooner we can have back our real officials, I think the integrity of the game is too important not to get them back" (ESPN.com, 9/25). In Seattle, Danny O’Neil noted Seahawks coach Pete Carroll “didn't criticize the way Monday's game was officiated,” but he did make “clear his feeling on the current lockout.” Carroll said, "It's time for it to be over. It's time for this to be over. My hat's off to these officials. They're doing everything they can to do it as well as they can. They have great pride. They're working their tails off. It demonstrates how difficult it is. It's a very, very complex process to handle these games and make these decisions. There's nothing easy about it, and it takes years and years of experience to pull it off properly and in a timely fashion and keep the flow of the game alive and all that” (SEATTLETIMES.com, 9/24).
ADMITTING ERROR: In Cincinnati, Kevin Kelly notes the NFL yesterday acknowledged that replacement officials “made two mistakes on the Redskins’ final drive Sunday against the Bengals.” NFL VP/Football Communications Michael Signora in an e-mail wrote that officials “should have assessed a 10-second runoff when the game was stopped for an injury” to Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson with 1:07 remaining and the Redskins out of timeouts. The officials also "assessed 25 penalty yards instead of 20" prior to the Redskins' final play (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 9/25).
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE: In Ft. Lauderdale, Mike Berardino writes players are not "sure anymore” about what constitutes a penalty. Dolphins CB Richard Marshall said, "I did the same thing on two different plays (Sunday). One play they called me for (pass interference) and the next play they didn't call it.” Berardino notes compounding matters is “the fact the replacements aren't exactly willing to share explanations the way the regular zebras might.” Marshall: "I got pushed on a route (Sunday) and they didn't call it. Then I said something to the ref about it, and he told me to get out of his face" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/25). ESPN.com’s Ashley Fox suggested ways for the replacement refs to “be better,” and they include: set the tone early, don’t be afraid to make a bold call and understand the basics (ESPN.com, 9/24).
The NHL and NHLPA "spent almost five hours together Monday going over accounting for last season, but didn't emerge with any plan to resume collective bargaining talks," according to Chris Johnston of the CP. Reps from each side said that the topic "wasn't even raised." Nine days into the lockout, "negotiations remain on hold with both the owners and players entrenched in their positions." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, "It's fair to say we feel like we need to hear from the players' association in a meaningful way because I don't think that they've really moved off their initial proposal, which was made more than a month ago now." Neither NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr nor NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "attended the meeting," but they "took in an NHL alumni dinner Monday night." Daly indicated the sides "were expected to make further contact" today. Daly "isn't willing to entertain the notion that the season could be lost." He said, "I'm hoping that some of (the players') pessimism is almost an intentional pessimism because certainly that's not where our mindset is" (CP, 9/24). Daly added that the league is "expecting the union to make the next move." However, the NATIONAL POST's Sean Fitz-Gerald notes there are "no simple answers for what move either side is willing to make in order to reach an agreement" (NATIONAL POST, 9/25). Daly after yesterday's meeting said the NHL is "100% focused on not missing any regular-season games." But Octagon Hockey Dir Allan Walsh wrote on his Twitter account, "Can you believe this cows---!" In Toronto, Terry Koshan writes, "Don't hold your breath about meetings in the near future. Nothing substantial between the sides has been exchanged since Sept. 12" (TORONTO SUN, 9/25).
NOT OPTIMISTIC: In Toronto, Kevin McGran notes with the NHL Alumni Association dinner, Bettman and Fehr "sat at the same table at the same time -- finally -- on Monday night," and they "admitted it might be time to get back to the bargaining table." Asked if there would be talks this week, Bettman said, "We are hopeful." To the same question Fehr replied, "Hope so." McGran writes, "If body language means anything, things look bleak." Bettman and Fehr "didn't shake hands at their table." Hockey HOFer and union founder Ted Linsday and Daly "sat between them" (TORONTO STAR, 9/25).
WAITING ON THE PLAYERS? The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes the NHL and NHLPA have "reached the stage where they are sending behind-the-scenes threats to each other through the media." The league "struck first when at least one of its top executives whispered to a few reporters" that Bettman would "cancel the Winter Classic by mid-Novemeber." The players, in turn, said they "will not be surprised if the entire season is wiped out by the owners' lockout." Shoalts: "In other words, make all the veiled threats you like NHL owners, we will not give in like last time when you got your salary cap." Daly has "made it clear the NHL is only willing to come back to the table if the players have a new proposal." There is "no indication that is the case." However, "one bit of business was accomplished" yesterday, as both sides "agreed on the final accounting of the record" $3.3B revenue the NHL took in last season. The "excellent financial result mean the players will get back almost all of the 8.5 per cent of their salaries that was held in escrow" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/25). In Pittsburgh, Dave Molinari noted because player salaries are "paid during the regular season, not a single paycheck has been missed, and players actually are scheduled to soon receive money that was held in escrow." Those checks "reportedly are worth an average of about $163,000, so it's unlikely that any player is in immediate peril" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/24).
TONE OF TALKS TURNING UGLY: Red Wings RW Dan Cleary yesterday said of the lockout, "People don't think it can go a year. As players, we think it can. Maybe longer." He added, "Just trying to be realistic. I think the league is waiting for us to make the move, and we're waiting for them to move. So someone has to move. And I don't see it coming from our end" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/25). Capitals C Mike Ribeiro said of a timetable for a deal, "Hopefully by November so we can have December with hockey" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/24). Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews yesterday said of the NHL and team owners, "If they want to hurt their own game and drive it into the ground that's what they'll do" (ESPN.com, 9/24). In Calgary, Scott Cruickshank notes the comment made by Red Wings Senior VP Jim Devellano in which he referred to NHLers as "cattle," did "not go over well." Flames RW Jarome Iginla said, "I didn't necessarily appreciate it as a player, but at the same time I don't think about it too much, to be honest." Flyers D Braydon Coburn: "I don't think anyone wants to be referred to as a farm animal. It is what it is. Someone said something they probably shouldn't have" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/25). Senators C Jason Spezza: "The 'PA is not scared that we're going to slip up and say something we shouldn't say. It would be nice to hear from a few owners. I'm sure they have an opinion on what's going on" (OTTAWA SUN, 9/25). Spezza added, "It's not right what he said, but you can't take it personally. ... There are going to be lots of things said. It's messy, when you're out of work. It's not pretty. The two sides are not going to get along until a deal is done." Spezza: "I still hold out hope that once we get to the point where they have to cancel regular season games, hopefully that's a bit of a pressure point to get things done. ... We are just trying to find a way to get back to the bargaining table and the league doesn't seem like they're too excited to get back talking" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/25).
BRANDON UNAWARE OF THREAT: Univ. of Michigan AD Dave Brandon said that he has "not heard anything official from the league" about cancelling the Winter Classic, which is scheduled to take place at UM's Michigan Stadium. Brandon in an e-mail said, "The only conversations I have had with the NHL have been informal and have not provided any certainty regarding the status of the game." The NHL's contract with UM allows the league "to cancel the event up to the day of the game" (Bill Shea, CRAINSDETROIT.com, 9/24). ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote, "If the Winter Classic turns to dust in the absence of a new collective bargaining agreement, does anyone think there is a deal the owners would accept short of complete capitulation by the players that would save the season? We would put those odds at somewhere between slim and none." If the commissioner's threat "is to be believed, there must be a deal in place in about six weeks, or else we can start talking about the chances of saving the 2013-14 season" (ESPN.com, 9/24).
INSURANCE APPLICATION: In Ottawa, Tim Baines noted Spezza last week "agreed to join" the Swiss Elite League's Rapperswil-Jona Lakers, and it is "certainly not for the money." While the team will "cover Spezza's expenses, a reported $50,000 per month in insurance fees will wipe out pretty well all of the salary he'll earn" (OTTAWA SUN, 9/25). In Montreal, Dave Stubbs notes Canadiens LW Max Pacioretty has "agreed to terms with Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss A League." Pacioretty's agent, Alex Schall, "brokered the deal by working through another agent who largely focuses on Swiss hockey." Schall said, "Negotiations weren't overly difficult. ... It was figuring out the hefty insurance bill, how that would be paid, because obviously you have to insure the Canadiens deal Max signed (last month). And it was more sorting through the whole marketplace rather than a difficult specific negotiation" (Montreal GAZETTE, 9/25).
HOW TO COMPROMISE: The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle writes under the header, "Ending The NHL Lockout: What Will A Compromise Look Like?" The answer to "how to settle this thing is with a new agreement neither side is going to like all that much." Mirtle suggests: "Make it a 10-year collective bargaining agreement. Play at a 50-50 revenue split for the final five years and never have a lockout again" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/25). In Winnipeg, Ted Wyman writes, "You have to believe the owners will eventually gravitate toward accepting 50-50 as well, but right now the hardliners are simply not willing to go there." Owners in "bad markets (we’d put money on places like Florida, Tampa, Dallas, Columbus, Nashville, Phoenix and Carolina) have reportedly hijacked this entire process and are not willing to entertain a moderate deal." At the "same time, there are plenty of owners who want to get a deal done and are willing to come to a compromise, but at this point it seems their voices are not being heard" (WINNIPEG SUN, 9/25). Former NHLer Bobby Holik said, "Owners are more resolved than ever to get a great deal. I haven't had a good feeling for a month" (Bergen RECORD, 9/25). Meanwhile, SPORTING NEWS' Jesse Spector wrote under the header, "League Should Put Ads On Uniforms -- Now." By "opening the door to uniform and ice advertising, the NHL also would have the opportunity to bring about labor peace." Because these revenue streams "would be new, they could be defined in such a way as to act as a buffer against a decrease in the players' share of hockey-related revenue" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/24).
BLAME GAME: YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote while many fans are "sympathetic to the players' plight, deplore the owners for pushing another season back to the brink because of their own mismanagement and criticize the NHL for instituting a financial system whose flaws are now exposed ... are the players just deluding themselves into believing they're going to win the waiting game? Are they delusional to think the owners are going to crack? Or that they're anything but replaceable?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/24). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote some criticism of Bettman is misguided, noting the "Blame Bettman Bandwagon, which was already bursting at the seams, has been gaining legions of members by the day." It "remains in vogue to slag Bettman for simply doing is job." But Bettman "largely gets the blame," and he "should be used to it by now." Campbell: "After all, doing your job for the real people who deserve the blame does have its downsides" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 9/24).