Ten days to go hockey fans. Will the league be crazy and stupid enough to lockout the players in an attmept to see another large scale salary rollback? Does the NHL need to have three work stoppages in the last twenty years. Will the overwhelming urge to protect a handful of owners seriously create a fracture in the league that may destroy the NHL as we know it? The current mood of hockey players across the league indicate they are fed up with the owners.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin spoke out Tuesday against the owners. ”It’s not fair for us. They still make money. They still sell tickets and they have money,” offered up Ovechkin. “Why they sign us to long-term deals and that kind of money and when the CBA is done they want to cut our salary? Why do they want to cut twenty percent? If they’re going to cut a percentage of the contracts and years, I don’t think lots of guys who sign American deals are going to come back and play here. It’s not reasonable to be here. You have to think of your future. You have to think of your family.”
Ottawa Senators’ alternate captain Chris Phillips is frustrated that the league hasn’t responded to the NHLPA’s counter-proposal. In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen Phillips vented that frustration. “It’s disappointing. After we want back to them on Friday and made concessions, it didn’t seem to get us anywhere.” stated Phillips. “We’ll see what happens this week, how long they go without talking, but some of the guys are starting down there and they’re available, they want to get things going.”
Edmonton Oilers forward Eric Belanger is more positive. He believes the current divide between the parties can be sealed, and any possible lockout will not be that long. In his conversation with the Edmonton Journal, Belanger offered up his own personal position. ”So my Plan B is to wait. With young kids, it is different,” he said. “Back then, I had one child and she was just a year and a half old. There was no school to worry about. And I do think if there is a lockout, I don’t think it’s going to be as long as the last one.”
The talks were formally put in abeyance by commissioner Gary Bettman on August 31st. He claims that the league is still willing to talk, but not until the players are willing to offer up something new. Funny, you would think that a revenue sharing plan that would protect the long term financial integrity of the league would be something new. Perhaps not. Well, the lockout is staged to begin in ten days. On a personal note, my birthday is tomorrow, and of all the things in the world, an announcement of no work stoppage would be the best present of all.