Both Philadelphia Flyer’s forward Danny Briere and newly-minted Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise had choice words about Gary Bettman following yesterday’s CBA proposal from the league.
First it was Parise, who didn’t hold back while talking to Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
“I think the ’04-’05 season is still pretty fresh in everyone’s minds, and now we find ourselves in the same position. It’s not good for the game. It’s not good for anyone. We’re ready to play. We want to play. But Gary (Bettman)’s pretty adamant about his third lockout of his tenure.”
Briere decided to jump into the ring with Bettman next, telling reporters this on Wednesday:
“We’ve all heard that Gary [Bettman] thinks the fans don’t matter. They’re gonna be back whenever we need them. I think that says it all right there from their end. They crushed us 7 years ago and we came back. We took our licks and came back to play and now, they feel like they can break us one more time.”
Obviously the players aren’t happy with the league’s most recent proposal – as evidenced by these comments – and that certainly spells bad news for the upcoming season. I’m not sure how effective a negotiating tactic these quotes are, but they’re certainly going to make waves.
Briere is a little more than misquoting the commissioner when he says that “Bettman thinks the fans don’t matter.” He’s likely referring to these comments, in which the commissioner said that the NHL would recover from a lockout because they have “the world’s greatest fans.”
And I highly doubt that Bettman (or “Gary”, as Parise so casually referred to him) is interested in adding a third lockout to his already scathed tenure.
Still, fallacious as the comments may be, they’ll likely be effective and inflammatory. Especially in a culture where fans generally side with players in lockout situations, Briere saying the commish doesn’t care about the fans will cast a negative light on “Team Gary”, no matter how much damage control the league does (or more than likely, doesn’t do). The best move for both sides: Shut up and find some common ground. After all, we want to see fights on the ice, not in print.