Kings' Westgarth: Number of owners like NHLPA proposal

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Kings' Westgarth: Number of owners like NHLPA proposal

Hockey will not start on time this year, that much we know.

The NHL announced that the first two weeks of the season were cancelled due to the lockout.

CSNNE.com's Danny Picard had Los Angeles Kings' Kevin Westgarth on his radio show "I'm Just Sayin'" on Friday, and the two discussed the current state of meetings between the two sides.

As far as the cancelled games goes, Westgarth said, "The writing was on the wall. He chalks NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly's statement up as "lip service to the process", knowing that it's "incredibly frustrating right now because all you're getting is these ridiculous soundbites."

That's a fact. The two sides have been notably far apart in negotiations, and Westgarth certainly didn't paint a brighter picture.

Not only are the core issues tough to agree upon, but things as small as ice conditions yes, ice conditions are a cause for debate behind closed doors.

"The big idea on focusing on non-core issues is kind of gaining some traction and starting to agree on some things that should be independently extremely easy to agree on," Westgarth said. Going from ice conditions, players come in and say the ice is terrible in a lot of places we would like better ice conditions to better the game to make it safer. And then the league says, 'Well, yeah, OK'. That shouldn't be that difficult a conversation to have in my mind but even things as simple as that sometimes get into long discussions and it's kind of disappointing to se when things that aren't that difficult become a problem.

"Ice conditions, obviously everybody wants good ice conditions but moving forward you have to start agreeing on those things. And unfortunately until this past week the league was not interested in meeting about that outside of the core issues which in my mind doesn't make any sense because you need to agree to all this stuff at some point and if you're kind of stuck on certain issues then move on and talk about something else and you can come back to it and that way you can work through your whole list of things that need to be resolved and grow momentum and gain traction to get this deal done."

Westgarth did say that good progress was made in the drug testing part of negotiations. That, though, doesn't mean a whole lot in the big picture.

He says the owners are simply trying to exploit the fact that fans will eventually come back to the game, lockout or not, as they have in the past.

But is it every owner? Picard asks if there are some owners who are more onboard with the players than others are, and Westgarth says he heard there are.

"I've heard kind of secondhand that a number of owners like the NHLPA proposal," Westgarth said. "They see the benefits to it. Unfortunately Gary Bettman has kind of changed the bylaws, and that's their business side. But it seems like there are is a cadre of owners now that are in complete control. And when Gary only needs eight votes out of 30 teams to stop any proposal from being agreed upon, he has all the cards in his hands.

"And unfortunately it seems like there's a big push from those most likely major market owners with Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins on down through we don't know who is in the little brain-trust. Right now there could be 21 owners that agree with our proposal and unfortunately eight or nine that are under Gary's thumb and kind of refuse to take the deal because it's promising them a big cash infusion by taking 100's of millions of dollars away from the players."

But are the owners at least making any concession? Nope.

"It's one of those things where the owners aren't making any concessions," Westgarth said. "They have a negotiating point and they like to imagine that they've won those things. Creeping back to where we are right now doesn't really make a concession, they're actually just trying to take a little less."

Check out the rest of the interview here.

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