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NHLPA find new best friend in Steve Belkin
Steve Belkin is a part-owner of the Atlanta Thrashers and has now become the new best friend of the NHL players association. In an interview with the Boston Herald, Belkin let the cat out of the bag as he talked about plans to use replacement players for the 2005-06 season. This could have an impact with the labour relations board as the owners will eventually try to show an impasse and the players will counter with a charge of unfair labour practices. It also shows the hardline views of the two sides and the little or no chance that the 2004-05 season can be salvaged.
Belkin was immediately fined by the league and commissioner Gary Bettman tried to downplay the comments. The one thing that has become clear in these negotiations is that this has become a personal fued. The NHL is trying to break the union by forcing them into a hard cap structure. They want Bob Goodenow out. On the other hand the NHLPA is intent on holding out with the hope (and good probability) that they will eventually get enough NHL owners out of Bettman's grasp and settle for a token "luxury tax" based system. They want Gary Bettman out.
And the net result is no hockey in the forseeable future.