Normally when Bettman negotiates a deal — or in this case tries to re-negotiate a deal with the players — he is doing so on behalf of the owners he represents. The problem here is, Bettman made a good-faith deal in the summer with the players, further chipping away at salaries for the next several seasons.
He made it without NHL owners being fully aware of what the coming season or seasons were going to be like.
And now owners are demanding a new deal, a better deal. Without having paying customers and without ticket revenue, they don’t want to pay players the amount they’ve agreed to. They want more cuts.
The players, having agreed to the deal, don’t want to give any more money back. They figure 72% of their salaries is a good enough chunk to have relinquished, even if 72% of the games aren’t necessarily going to be played.