At Sportsnet, Stephen Brunt says that a main reason for Gary Bettman being so angry on Thursday night was because Don Fehr and the players were pulling the same kind of move that the owners did in 2004.
Brunt writes that when Bob Goodenow proposed a 24% rollback in salaries to avoid a lockout in 2004, the owners “gratefully accepted their generosity as a starting point, and then ground them into the dust.”
Bettman said on Thursday night that when the owners proposed to bring the make whole money up to $300 million the players walked out of the room, discussed it, walked back and said that it was a good start.
Darren Dreger then said on TSN that the owners did that to buy back some trust but when the players asked for more, Ron Burkle became upset and Larry Tanenbaum almost turned purple.
On the role Fehr has, Brunt says ” The players hired Donald Fehr as their union head because he is Bettman’s equal. He is there to guard them against falling prey to their own sentimentality about the game, to protect their interests in a negotiation in which everyone understood that they would be giving back, would be surrendering rights and surrendering money guaranteed in the previous collective agreement.”
At CSN Bay Area, Ray Ratto says that this issue is much more about Don Fehr and Jeremy Jacobs than Fehr and Bettman. Ratto classifies Bettman much more as “The designated bad-news-deliverer-for-hire. The money is that good that he would rather be equated for all time with the worst part of the sport than not do it.”