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Sabres

September 14, 2012

Sabres could sense lockout was inevitable

(Continued)

AMHERST —

At the NHLPA meetings Thursday in New York, Miller, one of 11 Sabres and 283 players in attendance, questioned why Bettman still has a job if the NHL always operates at a loss.

Miller called the comments “tongue-in-cheek” Friday, and then kept hammering away.

“If he’s really doing what he says he’s doing, why is he still employed?” Miller said. “Our case is he’s doing what the owners want him to do. The league is healthy. The league makes money. There are definitely teams that need help, and we feel we came up with a way to assist them in doing that.

“We don’t want to go down the same path we went to last time and always end up with another situation where they want to lock us out. It can’t be every single time we negotiate, ‘Oh, we’re going to lock the players out.’ We have to build the game. We have to have respect for the fans, and it’s too much.”

Regehr worries fans could bolt from the game for good with another lockout. They returned following the last stoppage, and the NHL grew to record levels.

“(Owners are) just coming after the players for a lot of the share of their costs,” Regehr said. “They’ve done that before. … (Players are) seeing the exact same thing about player cost, and we’re going through this again even though we know the revenues have grown for them quite nicely.”

Ultimately, the league caters to the top-earning teams, said Miller, who was disappointed owners voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the lockout.

“I don’t think that clear picture about what every single team needs is being presented,” he said. “They’re still looking out for some of the best interests of the top teams, in my mind, money-wise. If they want to run a league where they run teams in areas they say they’re losing money, it’s got to be a partnership in how to care for these teams.

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