St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Union's stance upsets Bettman

wire services
Published June 26, 2004

DURHAM, N.C. - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman insisted Friday the players' union has been unresponsive and stubborn in talks about a new labor agreement.

He reiterated the league's position that any agreement must tie salary to revenues, a position rejected repeatedly by the union.

"We think the losses have proven over time that we can't operate under the current system," he said.

Owners believe a revenue-percentage formula would set a salary ceiling of about $35-million per team. The union views it as a salary cap, which it opposes.

"There are a hundred ways to do this, hard cap or soft cap or performance-tied," Bettman said. "We've never discussed how to do it because the union refuses to discuss it with us."

The current agreement expires Sept. 15. If a new agreement is not in place, owners are expected to lock out the players. No talks are scheduled, but Bettman said the league has set aside some dates after the union meets with its European members in mid July.

"There's still plenty of time," he said. "Obviously, the closer we get to Sept. 15, the smaller "plenty' gets."

BLUE JACKETS: Gerard Gallant was named coach nearly six months after he took over on an interim basis. Gallant, a left wing for the Lightning from 1993-95, went 16-24-4-1 after replacing Doug MacLean on Jan. 1. Also, Dean Blais was hired as associate coach. He spent the past 10 seasons as the coach at North Dakota, where he won two NCAA titles.

CANADIENS: Coach Claude Julien received an extension. Details were not disclosed. Last season Julien, whose contract was to expire July 1, led Montreal to its best record in 10 seasons.

TOP PROSPECTS TRADED: Dallas sent goalie Jason Bacashihua to St. Louis for the rights to defenseman Shawn Belle. Bacashihua, the Stars' first-round pick in 2001, went 13-19-5 with a 2.66 goals-against average in 39 games for Utah of the AHL last season. Belle, the Blues' first-round pick in 2003, had nine goals and 20 assists in 55 junior-league games last season.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.