Troy, MI, United States (4E Sports) – Furious over the prolonged NHL lockout, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ian White lashed out at commissioner Gary Bettman, calling him an idiot for damaging the game.
“I gotta be honest: I personally think he’s an idiot,” White said after an informal skate Friday. “Since he’s come in, I think he’s done nothing but damage the game.”
White said under Bettman’s tenure, the NHL has had three lockouts, the last of which cost the entire 2004-2005 season.
“If you think of all the moves he’s made, teams that are all struggling seem to be the teams that he put in places where there’s not viable markets for hockey,” White said.
“Three work stoppages I don’t know if he’s in control of the owners or what he’s saying, but I think it’s only seven of the owners that have to agree on something to have something pass,” he added.
The league has imposed a lockout Sept. 16 after it has failed to reach a new labor agreement with the players’ union.
Last Thursday, Bettman has requested the NHLPA executive director Don Fehr to impose a two-week moratorium on negotiations, bringing the process until the end of November and could result to the cancellation of December games.
“The whole process has just been frustrating,” White said. “I think, just where we stand now, you’d think that we’re close to making a deal if they’re willing to come a little bit our way.”
White also said that financial pressure will not lead the players to stage an uprising against Fehr.
“We’re fully behind him,” White said. “I don’t even know if it would really matter who’s leading us at this point. Their offers are just so ridiculous. They’re trying to take everything that we have away from us.”
Last week, the union has rejected several elements of the league’s last full proposal, which includes long-term contract limits of five years, strict variance rules to avoid back-diving contracts, 28 years of age or eight professional years before free agency, two-year entry-level deals; and salary arbitration after five years of service.
Aside from revenue sharing, the “make whole” concept to honor existing player contracts also prevents the two sides from reaching a common ground.