AMHERST — Ryan Miller first noticed the ominous signs of another NHL lockout last year when the NBA and NFL negotiated new labor deals favorable to ownership. Right away, the Buffalo Sabres goalie knew “hockey would take a crack at” getting money back from the players.
For Robyn Regehr, the cold reality of a work stoppage hit him last week in New York during a meeting at the league offices with Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr, commissioner Gary Bettman and top deputy Bill Daly.
The defenseman sensed the worst from Bettman’s demeanor, tone and words.
“No matter what we said to him, what we talked about, he wasn’t willing to look at anything else,” Regehr said Friday after skating inside the Northtown Center. “I think at that point we probably understood that we were probably headed down this road.”
The two sides reach the end of the road at midnight, when, barring a miracle, the NHL plans to lock out its players for the third time in 18 years. The last lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.
Neither side is budging right now.
The players say the league is healthy and making money. They believe their offers are fair and make concessions that would help stabilize money-losing teams through better revenue sharing.
Meanwhile, the NHL, despite generating record revenues under a collective bargaining agreement in which owners won most of their demands, wants the players’ share of hockey-related revenue down from 57 percent to about 47 percent in a new deal.
“It’s take it or leave it; our way or the highway and you’re getting locked out,” Regehr said.
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff added: “The owner’s got their deal (last time). We gave up pretty much everything that they asked of us. And after all the years of revenue growth we believe it’s just not fair we have to make all the sacrifices again.”