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Bobby Orr speaks out against the lockout


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Fed up with a National Hockey League labour dispute that has lasted 221 days, one of hockey's greatest icons has slammed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players union chief Bob Goodenow, saying hockey is in danger of becoming irrelevant and that both sides' refusal to compromise is a disgrace.


In a column that appeared in the Sunday Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass., yesterday, Bobby Orr wrote that if the commissioner and the National Hockey League Players' Association executive director can't come to terms on a new collective agreement and stop the damage to the game and the players, they should step aside.


"With the unacceptable lack of progress and the continued bickering, I am no longer convinced that there was a genuine interest in getting a fair deal done," wrote Orr, now a player agent based in Boston.


"The win-at-all costs attitude of both sides in this process has been disastrous. Both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players association executive director Bob Goodenow have wasted time and squandered goodwill. They now have a responsibility to either lead or get out of the way.


"Because of what has happened, our sport is in danger of becoming irrelevant unless both sides immediately put an end to this nonsense."


The NHL became the first North American professional sports league to cancel an entire season because of a labour dispute when Bettman called off the season on Feb. 16.


The two sides met for six hours in New York last Tuesday and emerged to say that no progress was made. They promised to set up a more aggressive meeting schedule, but will not get together again until the world championship in Austria next week.


"The collateral damage caused by their refusal to compromise is a disgrace," Orr continued. "Our fans have been used and abused. Those associated with our game have had their careers severely damaged or ruined.


"What about the families of those who depend on NHL hockey for their livelihood? Where is the sense of accountability to them by those to whom the game has been entrusted?


"These people and the history of our game deserve more than hollow apologies and empty promises."


This wasn't the first time Orr, whose Orr Hockey Group represents more than 100 NHL, minor-pro and junior players, has spoken up during the lengthy labour dispute. Last fall, he publicly urged the two sides to quit stalling and return to the bargaining table.


Orr wrote that he isn't concerned about the fallout with Bettman or Goodenow from the harsh words of his column.


"What concerns me far more is the lack of care about the game and its future," the legendary No. 4 wrote.


Attempts to reach Orr yesterday were not successful.


NHL executive vice-president Bill Daly said he did not want to respond to Orr's column "because I haven't read the full article."


No response was received after he was sent a copy of the article by e-mail.


Goodenow also declined to comment on Orr's criticism.


Some Canadian players who will suit up for Canada at the world championship, which will begin on Saturday, said on Friday before their exhibition game against the United States in Quebec City that they will not comment on the collective agreement talks in order to focus on playing hockey.


"We're trying to avoid that topic," Canadian goaltender Martin Brodeur said.


Orr ended his column with a call for more pressure on the negotiators.


"To every player, and every club owner, it's time for those of you who care about our sport to insist that those who have accepted responsibility for getting a deal done meet without interruption," he wrote. "And to demand that they continue until an agreement is made or they announce that they have failed to come to a resolution and are stepping aside.


"Enough is enough."




You tellem Bobby.


Commissioner: Bobby Orr

President: Wayne Gretzky

PA Chief: Mario Lemieux



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Guest Fritz

?Our sport is in danger of becoming irrelevant unless both sides immediately put an end to this nonsense,? the Boston Bruins great wrote in a column for the Sunday Eagle-Tribune.


that already happened


No doubt.

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