The timing couldn’t be much worse, seeing as Gary Bettman already has a big shit sandwich on his plate with the NHL lockout, but I’m wondering, as others are, if he might take time away from his CBA duties to play a hand in stalled talks between the Edmonton Oilers and city council over a new downtown arena.

After all, while The Count has his hands full frustrating Donald Fehr and the NHLPA at every turn getting the NHL back on track, anybody who can reject three counter-proposals in less than 20 minutes, as Bettman did Thursday, might be able to make the time to jump a jet and lock himself in a room with Stephen Mandel and Daryl Katz and broker a deal for a new downtown rink, which is something Katz has already hinted might be worth a try.

I’m wondering if Bettman might be able to make sense of the real numbers members of council and the Katz Group can’t seem to agree on as quickly as he shot down Fehr and the NHLPA – I have an image of Bettman skimming over pages and pages of documents with his fingertip like in one of those old speed-reading commercials. Really, a $450-million project is small potatoes compared to the $3-billion pie he’s engaged in cutting up with Fehr.

It’s probably a goofy idea, I know (and one, some will say, that must be a bad idea if Katz is willing to try it). I might be grasping at straws by even thinking Bettman might be able to coax some movement into the arena stalemate, but if anybody else has a better idea, I’d be happy to hear it.

I can’t imagine he could do anything to worsen the lines of communication.


"I think everyone needs to take a deep breath,” Bettman told reporters Thursday when asked about the stalled arena negotiations here. "The Oilers need a new arena, the City of Edmonton needs a new arena.

"And I’m hopeful that despite the breakdown in negotiations, reason will prevail and we’ll get it to the right place."

Fans around the NHL, you can bet, are hoping the same thing as it pertains to "reason" and the "right place" in CBA negotiations. Fans here, as I do, might be wondering if Bettman will find the time to inject some of that here with Katz and council – if he’s not laid up resting his arm after giving Fehr and the PA three rapid-fire pies in the face.

Philosophically, we know Bettman wants the Oilers in Edmonton. He fought to keep the team in town in the throes of the transition from Peter Pocklington to the EIG. With both sides of this impasse in full agreement (they are, aren’t they?) this city needs a new rink as a catalyst to revitalize the downtown, what possible reason could Mandel and council have NOT to invite Bettman to join the discussion?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Puritania

    Maybe if the lockout last for 2 or more years the financial structure of the each cities arenas will be re-examined including subsidies and non-game-night revenue.

    Besides, Katz can’t move the team if there is no league operating.

    I’m down with a 2+ year lockout to give the players some perspective and the city of Edmonton more time to get a better arena deal.

  • book¡e

    Bettman is a little busy trying to shaft the players but maybe if both sides end him preparatory information, his underlings study ut and breif him, he can come for 24 hours, sit with Mandel and Katz and see if they can hash something out. Everyone knows he is employed by the owners, so that would be factored into any public comments he made.

    I would love to see it.

    • Puritania

      What this article needs is some advanced mathematical statistics, amirite?

      If you don’t like Rueben’s articles, don’t read them. No one really gives a sh!t about how disappointed you are. But hey, why be polite and provide constructive criticism when you can just be rude and scream for attention.

      Anyways, maybe Bettman will remember the one time in his NHL career where he actually got cheered and lend us a hand.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Bettman obviously had no intention of negotiating but also, less than 48 hours after receiving the NHL’s offer, Fehr reads, absorbs, and counters with 3 separate proposals. Clearly these 3 proposals were crafted long before so why were they not put on the table earlier? It seems like nobody wants to have a season.

    On an unrelated matter, will the gong show between Katz and the city affect the Oilers ability to attract or retain FAs in the future? Does anybody think Justin Schultz is second-guessing signing here?

    Also, I don’t know what Hayek expects from Big Daddy. I am not disappointed.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    Hey some people get their kicks out of all the advanced stats and numbers and some don’t. Its all about perspective. Don’t get me wrong the Willis articles are good but I personaly zone out a bit with all the numbers, the others who write here with other styles are enjoyed by many.

  • book¡e

    I think the latest proposal will light a fire under Katz to get a deal done.

    It’s been suggested that the city build the new arena with Northlands managing it. The existing Rexall Place which sits on city land can then be sold to a private buyer and the equity from that sale goes into funding the new arena.

    Katz could then rent the new arena with the added benefit of more seats and box seat, better concessions,etc.

    GENIUS! It that doesn’t motivate Katz to move on the deal nothing will. 🙂

  • Gerald R. Ford

    I completely agree that Katz is one of Bettman’s bosses, and therefore the count should have nothing to do with ‘brokering’ an agreement. It is in Bettman’s personal interest to get Katz as much public money as possible.

    I also agree that a 2 or 3 year lockout might not be such a bad thing for the fans to regain a bit of perspective. Life goes on without the NHL. There are much more important things to spend our money on.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    Negotiations broke down because reason DID prevail.

    How is the Count meeting with the two principals in private going to change anything? There was already a deal negotiated in good faith, “in private”, and that went really well, didn’t it? I guess communication is always a good thing, but, at this point, can Katz be trusted to honour any aspect of a deal that he isn’t on public record to having actually formally agreed to? I think City Council answered that question Wednesday.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    I found Bettman’s message of not getting caught up in emotions when talking about the arena to be pretty amusing when held against the back drop of watching him storm out of the PA offices after 15 min of negotiating.

    Anyways, why not? Mandel seems comfortable with the idea and that’s good enough for me.

    I would even suggest that when Mandel made his speech about this being a city council that wants to make a deal, wants to build an arena and in part feels like keeping an NHL team here is a type of trust on the city that he wasn’t talking to teh peopl of Edmonton or Katz but was talking directly to Bettman. The city was telling the NHL directly that they are comitted to NHL hockey here and that the NHL needs to reign in one of it’s members.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    Listen to the podcast of the Thurs interview with Bryan Anderson on the Bob “My boss can do no wrong” Stauffer show. Mr. Anderson was strongly in favour of bringing in Bettman basically because he knows Hockey economics and what the NHL might allow should no Arena be built.

  • Fatbob24

    By pictures you mean classic cars like 62 vette or a Shelby mustang.

    The deal will be done by January imo. The 2 sides have to much to lose by not finding a compromise. If it takes Bettman’s unique brand of negotiating then so be it. It has been successful and proven.Gary works for owners including Katz but his mandate is such that the NHL brand and its 29 other owners have a huge say in what Katz is allowed to do under its charter. The league has proven in the past(Nashville) and present(Pheonix) its willingness to impose those agreements. Its when all other options are wasted(Atlanta) is a team allowed to seek other recourse’s.It does not happen very often. Issues such as attendance do even come into the conversation when speaking about edmonton. Nor does rent,or some of the other issues that have led other teams to leave a market.

    So yeah I think Edmonton should be pleased if Bettman and his team show up to balance the scales a little and add a little 3rd party check to both sides of this negotiation. The very least Gary could offer to the city is com parables to other deals. Either way we need both sides to stop publicly negotiating and cool off for a bit.

  • i wonder why katz was in such a hurry to buy the oilers if they don’t turn enough profit for him? i also wonder why ,if so many teams are non-profitable or losing money why do they keep giving out these insane contracts to players?

  • crobar

    so tamby (and therefore katz) gives hall and eberle 6 million a year, but he can’t kick in 6 mil a year for a new rink with all revenue generated from it?? what is wrong with this picture?? it sure sounds like the taxpayers are getting raped. katz should be embarrassed!!! the taxpayers will endorse the deal though because kevin lowe will say it’s a good deal…… so it must be…..