Pens co-owner Burkle: 'I believe a deal was within reach'
Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle, who was involved in this week's NHL labor negotiations, released the following statement regarding the lockout:
The idea to put players and owners together in the same room was a refreshing idea. Commissioner Bettman should be thanked for proposing it and the Fehrs should be thanked for agreeing to it.
The players came with a strong desire to get back to playing hockey.
They were professional and did a good job of expressing their concerns and listening to ours.
We wanted to move quickly and decisively. We have all spent too much time without any real progress at the expense of our fans, our sponsor and the communities we serve. It was time to make bold moves and get a deal.
Many people think we got over our skis and they are probably right, but we wanted to do everything we could to get back to hockey now. We didn't hold back.
We made substantial movement on our end quickly, but unfortunately that was not met with the same level of movement from the other side. The players asked us to be patient and keep working with them. It's not what they do and they wanted us to know they were committed. We understood and appreciated their situation. We came back with an aggressive commitment to pensions which we felt was well received. We needed a response on key items that were important to us, but we were optimistic that we were down to very few issues. I believe a deal was within reach.
We were therefore surprised when the Fehrs made a unilateral and “non-negotiable” decision — which is their right, to end the player/owner process that has moved us farther in two days than we moved at any time in the past months.
I want to thank the players involved for their hard work as we tried to reach a deal.
I hope that going backwards does not prevent a deal.