SBD/January 21, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Bruins Owner Jacobs Not Complimentary Of NHLPA, Fehr In Press Conference

Jacobs hinted his time as NHL BOG Chair may be winding down
Bruins Owner and NHL BOG Chair Jeremy Jacobs on Saturday "sounded optimistic" that the league's new CBA can "build fiscal stability among the league’s 30 owners and that it eventually can lead to another agreement," according to Kevin Paul Dupont of the BOSTON GLOBE. Jacobs termed the process of building the league's stability "evolutionary rather than revolutionary." He said this NHL season "could have and should have" started on time. Jacobs added that the lockout "should not have been necessary." When asked why the season did not start on time, he responded, "You’d really have to ask, uh, the other side that. ... They had no expression or desire to make a deal." He added, "If someone doesn’t engage, you don’t offer. Nobody won. But more importantly, no one lost." Jacobs added that teams "still will be divided into 'the haves' and the 'have-nots.'" Jacobs: "We’ve seen some franchises in certain areas do terrifically and then fall apart. Hopefully we won’t see a lot of that. If you step back and look at where we were eight years ago, we put together something that hadn’t happened -- we had an agreement (the CBA crafted in 2005) that was based on a percentage. And as you’ve seen since then, other leagues have followed with some success. That was definitely the right direction and the right composition. The numbers were wrong. We just got the numbers wrong. We believe we’ve got the numbers right now." Jacobs said that now he "gets a sense of true player unity and a sense of satisfaction over the new deal." Asked if NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr is due credit for that unity, Jacobs responded, "I wouldn't credit him for anything" (BOSTON.com, 1/19). Read the GLOBE's full transcript.

SHOCK-AND-AWE STRATEGY: ESPN N.Y.'s Katie Strang wrote Jacobs "chose a strange way to welcome the return of hockey" when he made a "bizarre about-face in his pregame news conference as he took deliberate shots at" the NHLPA. Jacobs: "The players are going to get very rich under this transaction. They were very rich going into this. They passed up $700 million in payroll. That's a lot. And I'm hopeful that it was fulfilling." When asked if he felt it was fair to say he blamed the union for the time lost as a result of the work stoppage, Jacobs responded, "I won't comment on that." Strang called his performance an "odd display for an owner who claimed to be enthused about the start of play." Jacobs "touted" NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's "leadership in reaching the 10-year agreement." Jacobs said, "He's probably brought a little bit of an abrasive personality with him. Not everyone loves him. And that's understood. But he's done a yeoman's job and worked his butt off. You can't outwork Gary" (ESPNNY.COM, 1/19).

END OF THE LINE AS BOG CHAIR? Jacobs also "talked as if he is preparing for the day he will step down" as NHL BOG Chair. Jacobs said, "I can see them wanting to get a fresher mind than mine." Asked how he felt about being characterized as the lockout's leader, he responded, "First of all, you’re not in a position to try to defend yourself because it’s not constructive to the process. I am coming off winning a Stanley Cup (in June 2011). I’ve got a sold-out building. I have a financially sound business -- no debt. I’ve owned (the team) for 37 years. I’m the last guy that wants to shut this down. I don’t want this to shut down. Unfortunately, I play in a league with 30 teams and when I step back and look what’s going on with the broadest sense of the league, I’ve got to play a role that is constructive. My selfish interest was definitely to keep this going within the parameters of the deal that was out there. But it (didn’t) make sense for the league, long-term. ... A lot of people were promised that we would try to right-size this. And I had to play a role in it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/20).

SPIN SESSION: In N.Y., Jeff Klein called Jacobs' presser a "remarkable news conference." Jacobs' "surprisingly candid comments revived the bitterness of the lockout, after the league's efforts to put the lockout in the past" (NYTIMES.com, 1/20). Also in N.Y., Pat Leonard wrote Jacobs' comments were meant to "apologize to fans for the lockout," but the press conference "quickly spiraled into a passive-aggressive spin session blaming the NHL players' association for the work stoppage and trying to rewrite history." Jacobs' "patronizing tone surely will not sit well with the union." Instead of "focusing on the start of the NHL season, Jacobs was taking parting shots at the players" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 1/19).
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