Tuesday, May 24, 2005


The Guessing Game

Well we have a really interesting week ahead of us. With all kinds of rumors swirling going into Wednesday and Thursday's meetings, many of you were probably, as I was, disappointed to hear that Bob and Gary were not attending these two days. So I made some calls and was surprised to see all involved not upset by the idea at all. When I asked if they thought this would slow negotiations, the answer was "no." When I asked "Would this break momentum?"....the answer was "no, I don't foresee any problems."

Another source said, "The NHL is under the giant gun to get a deal done right now. They wouldn't be wasting a second with meetings that weren't vital to the process at this point. Every day is money lost to both sides."

As a respected reporter said to me, "This is a linkage deal, so every sponsor's dollar that is lost is at least 54 cents lost by the players. If ESPN is lost June 1, that is millions the players will never get back on top of the billion this year. Do they need to get it done now???."

And then I called some sources close to the scene who can probably get better information than I can and I got surprising optimism, "The mood with all the parties involved is so much lighter this week than it was last week. You can sense they know something good, but they aren't giving specifics. I tried to find out exactly what they are talking about this week after reading the sportsnet article saying it was more financial stuff...I got the impression it was much, much more."

So if it is more, then why no Bob and why no Gary?..another source lent this opinion, "There is a dynamic that exist without the two of them in the room that for some reason they get more done. Alot of the baggage isn't there, they joke around and talk without reservation, they even go out afterwards..I'll say this I'll give the two men credit for putting ego aside and realizing it is better sometimes without them."

Of course there are the skeptics, the ones who feel Bob is waiting this out... he'll pull the rug out at the perfect time and call the NHL's card at the final hour. That is always possible, but with unprecedented pressure from the players and with Linden, Gartner and Brendan having more power than ever it is unlikely. "As a source who spoke to someone in the meeting said, 'Bob is presenting for the PA, but it has become apparent that Trevor, Mike, and Brendan are negotiating. They are proud men representing their constituents in a way they should be represented. The Bob hardliners are much more passive at this point."

Enter the cynic...is Bob orchestrating this? A source said, "He would orchestrate his death to get leverage. he is that shrewd." I can say this with certainty, at uncancellation Saturday I didn't post a rumor that Bob was fired even it came from someone who would certainly know the scoop. The rumor was very detailed as to how it happened, but I don't believe in posting stuff about people getting fired...I consider that gossip, not rumors...this is not a gossip column.

Finally, the most intriguing rumor of all, According to several sources Bob is not pleased with the way this is going currently. One of my sources, the guy who goes by the nickname Shadow, put it this way, "I talked to a player today who said that Goodenow has told everyone that he "will not" make a deal with Bettman. He has no interest in what the owners are offering. To that point, it is more and more evident that Trevor Linden is in charge, that's why last weeks meetings lasted as long as they did, if it were up to Goodenow he would have been out of NY on Wednesday. The new CBA will have the signatures of Trevor Linden and Ted Saskin or Mike Gartner. "

Other sources have heard similar rumors, "Bob is saying the deal will get done soon, but his signature won't be on it."

And another source that met with Bob a few weeks ago that said, "he didn't seem like a guy on the ropes."

Hard to say what is reality and what isn't, but to Bob's credit he has everyone guessing to the end. But there is a specific difference this time around...this time, you get the impression that if this is a Goodenow trick, his executive committee isn't in on it, and probably won't play along so easily.

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