The Washington Times - October 20, 2012, 12:27PM

You can read plenty of analysis about the NHL lockout here. But here’s a chance to watch, listen to and read what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr had to say Thursday in Toronto.

Below are some direct quotes from the respective news conferences and video of each:

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Gary Bettman

“The Players’ Association came back and basically made three alternate proposals on player share. All variations to some degree of the one proposal that they made over the summer and really haven’t deviated from since. …  And none of the three variations even began to approach 50/50 either at all or for some long period of time, and it’s clear that we’re not speaking the same language in terms of what they came back to us with.”

“It is still my hope that we can accomplish my goal, the league’s goal of getting an 82-game season. But I am concerned based on the proposal that was made today that things are not progressing. to the contrary, I view the proposal that was made by the players’ association in many ways a step backward.”

“The proposal that we made, so that we can be clear about it, at 50/50 and all the other things was the best that we can do. We gave it our best shot. It is our best offer. We gave the players association what we had to give. We indicated that we’re prepared to have discussions, that we’re prepared to look for tweaks and adjustments.”

“The longer this goes and particularly if we’re not in a position to have an 82-game regular season, the damage may in fact make it even more difficult as time goes on to make a deal. I am, to say the least, thoroughly disappointed, but I’m giving you the facts.”

“This was the best offer that we have to make.”

On more talks

“We have each other’s numbers and if there’s something to talk about, we’re always ready, willing and able to be anywhere at any time.”

On next step

“The next step is, Hopefully we’ll hear back, but I don’t know what the next step is. I’m obviously very discouraged. …  Based on where we are today, we’re always happy to talk. But as you see, despite what we did on Tuesday, we were done in an hour to day because there was really nothing there.”

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Donald Fehr

“Questions I get asked by the players are, is that fair? How could that be fair? How could that be balanced? What do we get out of this deal?”

“Most people would think a billion dollars is a lot of money. …  Apparently they don’t.”

“After the proposal was made, they did what they’ve done before: they take a very few minutes, they don’t think about it very much, they don’t analyze it, they don’t talk to the other owners, they don’t do anything. They take less than 10 minutes, maybe it was 15, and we have a meeting. And we are told two things: All three proposals are rejected in their entirety, and secondly, the proposal that we recently got … is their best offer. And they might be willing to tweak it around the edges. I said a tweak is a small and insubstantial thing and they agreed. But that’s it. And that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

“When you think about it, if you assume that’s their best offer, why in the world did we see it four weeks into a lockout? Why didn’t we see it on Sept. 14 or August the 10th or July 13 or whenever it was that they made the proposal for the 24 percent rollback. I can’t answer that question. Wish I could but I don’t know what the answer is.”

“So where we are is that they’ve told us what they’ve told us, we will report to the players as we always do and we will go from there. We’re available to continue negotiating, we’re going to have to continue negotiating, whether it’s tomorrow or the next day or next week or whenever it is until eventually an opportunity arises to make an agreement.”

“Today was not a good day. It should have been, but it wasn’t.”

On why NHLPA made three different proposals

“The answer is really simple. It is to say we’d like to make a deal with you. We think there’s three alternatives and we hope we can live with any one of them if it provides the right kind of negotiating framework, so pick one.”

On tweaking the owners’ framework

“I don’t know what we will eventually do. I don’t know what the owners will eventually do. But if you had been in the room, the vibe you would have gotten is, unless you’re prepared to sign with very minor variations, don’t bother us.”

 

“I’ve been around this block long enough to know that anything can happen in bargaining, that when somebody takes a hard stand like the owners have taken, you have to assume that they mean it and you go from there. It doesn’t mean you make an agreement which is not in the interest or consistent with the desires of the players and you go from there.”

“I had hoped that the approaches we’d taken today would put us in range. So far, apparently, it’s not true.

“If you are negotiating to try to save the season and go on with your business, you would think you would want to get it out there before a month into a shutdown.”

On getting explanation of rejection

“They said they rejected it, that they told us before that this was their best offer, that we could tweak around the edges but that was all.”

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