Thursday, October 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

NHL owners stunned, disappointed

The NHL released statements from four owners after negotiations with the players' union broke down on Thursday. The owners _ Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle, Winnipeg's Mark

NHL owners stunned, disappointed

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. (AP file photo)
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. (AP file photo)

The NHL released statements from four owners after negotiations with the players' union broke down on Thursday. The owners _ Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle,     Winnipeg's Mark

Chipman, Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum and Tampa Bay's Jeff Vinik _ took part in the meetings Tuesday and Wednesday.


Statement from Ron Burkle, Penguins:

"The idea to put players and owners together in the same room was a
refreshing idea. Commissioner Bettman should be thanked for proposing it
and the Fehrs should be thanked for agreeing to it.

"The players came with a strong desire to get back to playing hockey.
They were professional and did a good job of expressing their concerns and
listening to ours.

"We wanted to move quickly and decisively. We have all spent too much
time without any real progress at the expense of our fans, our sponsor and
the communities we serve. It was time to make bold moves and get a deal.
Many people think we got over our skis and they are probably right, but we
wanted to do everything we could to get back to hockey now. We didn’t hold
back.

"We made substantial movement on our end quickly, but unfortunately
that was not met with the same level of movement from the other side. The
players asked us to be patient and keep working with them. It’s not what
they do and they wanted us to know they were committed. We understood and
appreciated their situation. We came back with an aggressive commitment to
pensions which we felt was well received. We needed a response on key items
that were important to us, but we were optimistic that we were down to very
few issues. I believe a deal was within reach.

"We were therefore surprised when the Fehrs made a unilateral and
“non-negotiable” decision – which is their right, to end the player/owner
process that has moved us farther in two days than we moved at any time in
the past months.

"I want to thank the players involved for their hard work as we tried
to reach a deal.

"I hope that going backwards does not prevent a deal."

Statement from Mark Chipman, Jets:

“I’d like to thank the NHL for giving me the opportunity to
participate in this very important process.

"I came here optimistic that we could find a solution. That sense
of optimism grew after our first few sessions, including the small group
discussions late last night.

"Regrettably, we have been unable to close the divide on some
critical issues that we feel are essential to the immediate and long-term
health of our game.

"While I sense there are some members of the players association
that understand our perspective on these issues, clearly there are many
that don’t.

"I am deeply disappointed that we were unable to bring this
extremely unfortunate situation to a successful conclusion and I wish to
apologize to our fans and sponsors for letting them down.”

Statement from Larry Tanenbaum, Maple Leafs:

“I was pleased to be asked to join the Player/Owner negotiation
sessions. I had hoped that my perspective both as a businessman and as one
of the owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs would be helpful to the process.
Like all other teams, this work stoppage has hurt our fans, our employees
and our business. Neither the owners nor the players will ever recover the
losses incurred with this work stoppage.

"I understand how important it is to have a strong league and 30
healthy teams. I must admit that I was shocked at how things have played
out over the last 48 hours. The sessions on Tuesday felt cooperative with
an air of goodwill. I was optimistic and conveyed my optimism to the Board
of Governors at our Wednesday meeting. However, when we reconvened with the players on Wednesday afternoon, it was like someone had thrown a switch.
The atmosphere had completely changed. Nevertheless, the owners tried to
push forward and made a number of concessions and proposals, which were not
well-received. I question whether the union is interested in making an
agreement.

"I am very disappointed and disillusioned. Had I not experienced this
process myself, I might not have believed it. Like all hockey fans, I am
hopeful this situation can be resolved as soon as possible. I miss our
game.”

Statement from Jeff Vinik, Lightning:

“After working this week with our players toward what we hoped would
be a new agreement, owners presented a proposal we believed would benefit
those great players, ownership, and, ultimately, our fans for many years
to come. While trust was built and progress was made along the way,
unfortunately, our proposal was rejected by the Union's leadership. My
love for the game is only superseded by my commitment to our fans and I
hold out hope we can soon join with our players and return the game back
to its rightful place on the ice.”
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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Sam Carchidi Inquirer Staff Writer
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