|ESPN.com: NHL||[Print without images]|
|The Real Bettman Letter|
Dear Season Ticket Holder:
The National Hockey League enjoys and appreciates the support of the greatest fans in the world. We acknowledge that by not starting the 2004-05 season as scheduled due to the lack of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, we are disappointing this loyal and passionate group -- and for that, we sincerely apologize.
This is a situation that we hoped would not occur and, in fact, have been working very hard to avoid. I want you to know that I am committed to fixing the problems that face our league and to delivering an economic system that will bring you exciting, world-class NHL hockey at ticket prices you can afford.
The CBA that just expired made it very difficult for most teams to be competitive, both economically and on the ice, as approximately 75 percent of all the dollars generated went to player salaries and benefits -- by far the highest such percentage in all of professional sports. Our objective is to negotiate a CBA that will provide a partnership with our players, will provide them with more than 50 percent of every dollar of revenue, including an average salary of $1.3 million (U.S.) and will assure a stable business while giving your team the opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup every season.
Our mandate at the league is to do everything possible to reflect our respect for your connection to NHL hockey and to the commitment you make to your favorite Club. We thank you for your continued support and understanding. While there is no way to know how long it will take to continue this negotiation, we sincerely hope your team will be back in action soon.
Gary B. Bettman
Terry Frei is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He is the author of the just-published "Third Down and a War to Go," and "Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming," recently reissued in paperback.