Bettman: Full season 'not going to be a reality'

Bettman: Full season 'not going to be a reality'
October 24, 2012, 5:00 pm
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One day before his self-imposed Thursday deadline to salvage an 82-game regular season, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged on Wednesday that a full season “is not going to be a reality.”

Bettman was in Brooklyn on Wednesday for the Islanders’ announcement that they will be moving to the new Barclays Center for the start of the 2015-16 season. He addressed the NHLPA’s assertion that he is refusing to meet with union executive director Don Fehr to discuss alternative ways to end the NHL’s lockout.

“We said to them that we are prepared to meet if you want to discuss our offer or you want to make a new offer,” Bettman told reporters. “They have no inclination of doing either so there’s really no point in meeting at this point.”

Bettman also made it clear that when he made his 50-50 proposal to the players on Oct. 16 it was in the spirit of salvaging a full NHL season that would begin by Nov. 2. Now that that deadline is about to pass, he suggested the NHL’s next offer might be worse.

“The fact of the matter is there are just some times you need to take time off because it’s clear you can’t do anything to move the process forward,” Bettman said, “and we’re at one of those points right now because we gave our very best offer.

“And that offer, for better or for worse, was contingent on playing an 82-game season. So I think things actually in some respect might get more difficult.”

In street language, that’s not just a threat, it’s a promise.

Bettman is clearly playing hardball with the players and if Thursday goes by without an agreement – and you can bet it will -- the next step for the NHL is to cancel games through the first week of November.

The next deadline facing the NHL is likely to be Nov. 20, reportedly the drop dead date for the NHL to salvage the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan.

“I remain the eternal optimist that, hopefully, something will get done,” Bettman said. “We are all obviously disappointed that things are where they are. But until we’re in a situation where the union is interested in making a deal to provide us with an agreement that will give us the long-term stability we need, there’s not much we can do.

“You can’t dance by yourself.”