What's Buzzing:

Puck Daddy

Gary Bettman: ‘This is very hard and I feel terrible about it’

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

View photo

.

There were two occasions during his Thursday press conference in New York where Gary Bettman pushed aside lockout jargon for an attempt at emotion, like some Washington policy wonk ignoring his bar graphs long enough to ask, "what about the children?"

The first instance was a personal admission from the man that's overseen two work stoppages and will complete the hat trick on Saturday night.

"This is really hard. You only get involved in this situation when you understand what the issues are and you know you're doing the right thing for the long-term stability of the sport," he said.

"This is very hard and I feel terrible about it."

As he should. As the owners should. As Donald Fehr should. As the players should. That it got to this point, and that the realistic compromises, that both sides will eventually reach after months of the season are sacrificed, can't be bridged before the preseason starts.

The abject frustration for fans shouldn't be that there's a lockout, because all know this was the NHL's endgame. It's that the players and owners are this far down the rabbit hole and are still defining terms and arguing the fundamentals.

For example, the fundamental difference between the NHL and the NHLPA offers is that the players' projections are "assumptions and speculation based on their projections of league growth based on dollars, and not percentages," according to Bettman.

In other words, Bettman feels the NHLPA isn't coming down from 57 percent of the revenue when you take into account how their proposal is structured based on the current rate of growth for the league. While the official number for Year 1 of the NHLPA proposal has been 52 percent of revenue, Bettman feels that's deceiving.

[Related: League will suffer if NHL, NHLPA don't embrace compromise and common sense as lockout looms]

"If you fully understand the proposal, it's not 52 percent or anything close to it. You have to look at the dollars they want guaranteed. The dollars are an actual increase. They're projecting that down the road, at 7 percent-plus revenue growth, which is a very high assumption, you might get to 52 percent. Their proposal is not a percent proposal; it's a guaranteed dollar proposal," he said.

"They did not make a percentage of the growth offer."

This was Mirtle's take on that issue in his Globe and Mail piece on the proposal:

Despite what has been written in some circles, the players have offered some givebacks here. Even if league revenues grow at just 5 per cent (which they have exceeded in all but one of the last six years), the players will be offering back about $340-million (or $70-million a season) from where they are now at 57 per cent.

If there's big-time growth (8.5 per cent or more), the PA gives up $250-million or more a year. That's not nothing.

The key difference between the two deals is that the union is trying to stay at or above that $1.87-billion figure earned last season in order to avoid big-time escrow payments by its players right away. That's one of the things players have asked Fehr for, and he is listening and trying to deliver.

Again, they're still not speaking the same language. The players see the NHL's rate of growth remaining steady; the league believes that rate could be unsustainable.

The players see the league's use of escrow in the new CBA as a de facto salary rollback; the league see it as "in line with what they're used to in this agreement."

The players feel it's unfair to cap and reduce their wages when other costs for teams don't have similar controls; the league believes many of those ancillary costs are linked to the players anyway, and have risen over the life of the CBA.

"I don't think it makes sense on how the clubs run their businesses," said Bettman. "Those costs have increased dramatically."

(Incidentally, this topic brought forth what might be the first in recorded human history that there were references to both massage therapists and the price of charter jet fuel in the same sentence. Kudos, Mr. Bettman.)

Where does this leave us? Bettman said there's no lockout yet because there's still time for a deal to be made, but his words were about as hollow as an invisible Kevin Bacon.

The lockout's happening, much to Gary Bettman's chagrin. Which brings us to Emotional Moment No. 2, which came at the end of his press conference on Thursday.

"I hope to see you all soon," he said, solemnly.

"And I hope it's with better news."

More news from the Yahoo! Sports Minute:

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Insurance policy isn't to blame for spate of injuries in UFC
LeBron James switches agents to team up with longtime friend
Y! News: California man confirms role in anti-Islam film
Forde-Yard Dash: Coaching changes shake up college football landscape

View Comments (126)
  • Pelle fires Italy to 1-0 win over Scotland in friendly

    Pelle fires Italy to 1-0 win over Scotland in friendly

    Italy dominated against Scotland but only scraped a 1-0 win Sunday in its penultimate warmup match before the European Championship, and the Azzurri's wayward shooting will be of concern to coach Antonio Conte. The main culprit was Emanuele … More »

    AP - Sports - 4 minutes 5 seconds ago
  • Strasburg improves to 9-0, Nationals down Cardinals 10-2

    Strasburg improves to 9-0, Nationals down Cardinals 10-2

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg won his 12th consecutive decision dating to last season and Jayson Werth connected for a pinch-hit grand slam to help the Washington Nationals close out the season series against the St. Louis Cardinals with a … More »

    AP - Sports - 6 minutes ago
  • Greenwood proud to add voice to Charlotte, NASCAR salute

    Greenwood proud to add voice to Charlotte, NASCAR salute

    Lee Greenwood's patriotic anthem was almost lost to bad timing. Greenwood was at Charlotte Motor Speedway to sing his anthem, ''God Bless The USA'' before the start of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night. ''It wasn't necessarily on the shelf,'' … More »

    AP - Sports - 11 minutes ago
  • Alexander Rossi pulls off stunning upset in 100th Indy 500, Hinchcliffe seventh

    Alexander Rossi pulls off stunning upset in 100th Indy 500, Hinchcliffe seventh

    Alexander Rossi was the stunning winner of the historic 100th running of "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing" on Sunday in a victory that allowed the long-suffering Andretti family to celebrate in the biggest race of their famed careers. Rossi was a … More »

    The Canadian Press - 13 minutes ago
  • Party Around the World: Great sports, great spots to party

    Party Around the World: Great sports, great spots to party

    From the breathtaking view at a ski station in the French Alps to a horse race that ''stops the nation'' Down Under to the wackiest golf hole in the Arizona desert - make that the entire planet - sports fans will find the party. Some of the world's … More »

    AP - Sports - 13 minutes ago