NHL lockout 2012: No, all 29 owners are not on the same side

Jim Rogash

It's pretty obvious that there's a rift in the NHL's Board of Governors.

Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Daily News published this:

Multiple sources confirmed to the Daily News on Friday that [Philadelphia Flyers chairman Ed] Snider, once seen as a supporter of the [NHL commissioner Gary] Bettman's push to rein in the players' share of revenue, has soured on the process after it became apparent that a deal would not be brokered in time for a Dec. 1 puck drop.

A powerful league owner had turned against the lockout and the commissioner. There's a rift in the Board of Governors. Huge news.

Snider released a statement calling the report "erroneous."

"An article appearing in today's Philadelphia Daily News is absolutely erroneous," Snider said. "I am a solid supporter of National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and the League in this unfortunate situation.

In an interview the next day with the Winnipeg Free Press, Bettman called the report a "fabrication."

It was a fabrication. Ed Snider is the one who told me about the article when he found out about it and he was terribly upset. He's in Europe and it was his idea to put out a statement. Anyone who doubts the resolve of ownership is either uninformed or (being) intentionally misleading.

The Daily News stood by the report.

***

On Wednesday, CSN New England published this:

Winnipeg Jets representation at a recent NHL Board of Governors meeting piped up to say it was opposed to engaging in a long, bloody lockout sure to stymie their franchise's momentum and hurt the game of hockey.

It wasn't Winnipeg owner Mark Chipman, but rather one of the alternate governors representing the Jets.

Bruins Principal Owner and Chairman of the Board of Governors Jeremy Jacobs answered by reprimanding the Winnipeg representative as one of the "new kids on the block" and informed him that he would know when he was allowed to speak in the NHL board room.

That's the kind of hawkish, dismissive, bully mentality that's driving the bus for the NHL lockout that's now cancelled games through the middle of December.

A powerful league owner is bullying smaller teams who are against the lockout. Another rift in the Board of Governors. Huge news.

The Jets released a statement calling the report "completely false."

I was disappointed to learn today of a report which claimed an exchange took place between an Alternate Governor of the Winnipeg Jets and Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins at a recent NHL Board of Governors meeting. I was present throughout all BOG proceedings and can categorically state that no such exchange between Mr. Jacobs and either one of our Alternate Governors -- Patrick Phillips or Kevin Cheveldayoff -- ever took place. Any suggestion otherwise is completely false."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly called the report a "fabrication."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, in an e-mail to The Free Press, said the story was a "100% complete and total fabrication."

CSN New England stood by the report.

***

It's almost like they're following a script, isn't it? DENY DENY DENY. When one reputable NHL reporter writes something and it's denied by the league, that's one thing, but when another independently writes a story of nearly the exact same consequence, it's pretty obvious there's something here.

The NHL's 29 team owners are not on the same page in this lockout. The facts are pretty obvious, regardless of the league's form-letter denial process.

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