Skip Bettman, go straight to Owners???
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11-24-2004, 12:21 AM
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Northern Virginia
Bettman (and by extension, the NHL offices) is in no way working from a different script than are the owners. The office of the commissioner takes its marching orders in every important way from the owners themselves. Bettman doesn't have the owners over any kind of barrel. He can fine an individual owner for breaking ranks and speaking publicly because the owners at large have previously decided that solidarity and a single voice --Bettman's-- is the approach to take right now. His eight-vote mandate in the negotiations exists because it was voted him by the owners themselves, and it can be rescinded easily enough should they elect to take that decision.
Bettman is not an independent entity, marching to the beat of his own drum. He is a figurehead representing the collective voice of his constituency of 30 owners every time he holds court in the press.
The article makes the assumption that there is room for some kind of wedge to be driven between the owners and the commissioner. That is a fallacy right now. The owners are united, and the players are united, which is not so surprising since we're only about six weeks into the lockout. In the grand scheme of things, that is not so very much time. Positions won't erode until some serious money has been lost by everyone, and that takes a while. Perhaps a solid year, perhaps less, perhaps more.
To draw an analogy, the NHL and the union are playing a game of chicken and driving head on towards one another, but they are riding in cars that are still a few miles apart. Why either side should be expected to panic just yet is a mystery. The lockout just started, after all. Only time will erode unity on one or both sides of the dispute... and probably enough time that salvaging a partial 2004-05 season will not be feasible.
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