LOCKOUT: Day Thirty-Five – Integrity


Jan. 16, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) takes the ice before a gam against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr spoke to each other on Saturday. At the moment both sides still have no plans to meet face-to-face. The current deadline for a full eighty-two game will likely expire on Thursday. At present, the NHL has cancelled all games until November.  Daly and Fehr were both tight lipped on what was discussed today, but both sides said there were no new developments on the thirty-fifth(and counting *sigh*) day of the lockout.

At one my other jobs, the CBA debate has become heated as the presidential election. Up until this week, the majority of the people were siding with the players. That changed when the NHL dropped its surprise proposal on Wednesday. For a moment, we all thought it was going to happen. Then Thursday happened and all our dreams crumbled. The debate started up again, with renewed vigor. This time however, the players were taking considerably more flak than they had the previous weeks. Both sides brought up Fehr and how ticked he was in his last speech to the media.

To this, I agreed. Don Fehr was as incensed as I have seen him in this whole negotiation process. “The most current offer, if one could call it that,” sniped Fehr. “The most current proposal which came in the last few days, was to reduce player salaries only 12.3% against that [previous CBA where the players lost twenty four percent of their pay] backdrop.  Fehr continued to argue how the players would lose nearly two billion dollars by the owners most recent proposal. “When you look at this, the owner’s proposal of course contemplates much more than that level of reduction.” He continued to talk about how the players would lose a lot of the things they got in concession in 2004-05.

It got around to my opinion. I offered that the players were still being screwed by the owners. My hockey guru likened Jeremy Jacobs to Lucifer. A few co-workers started hammering on the players and just argued they were a bunch of spoiled millionaires. “It’s about integrity.” I offered. “Do you believe the players have integrity?” I used the example of Boychuck, Paille, Campbell, and Marchand going out on opening night to spend time with local Boston pee wee teams. “That was a PR stunt!” was the reply. I didn’t deny there was an air of public relations there. Still, the players could have done a lot of other things that evening.

I really pushed the integrity argument. Who here thinks Shawn Thornton has no integrity? While some of the players think of him as a grinder, I saw him as a player that really busted his butt to get to the NHL. It took dedication, sacrifice, passion, and a lot of integrity. Does Milan Lucic not go out there and give everything he has on the ice? How many us have watched him throw down for his team, and to extent for all of us? Then I played my ace card. Who thinks Patrice Bergeron is a mercenary who sells himself for a few extra dollars?  That shut them up.

The Bruins fans here all have different favorite players, but we all agree on one standard. That standard is that Patrice Bergeron is the closest thing the Boston Bruins are going to have as a candidate for sainthood. He is admired by his teammates. He is respected by the depth and breath of the NHL player community. He has been in a handful of fights in his entire career, and has never been the instigator. He is adored by the fans, and has earned everything he has gotten. From the “A” on his chest, to the Selke #37 has been the very model of a modern Boston Bruin.

The players still have integrity. My only hope is that they won’t have to sacrifice that integrity just to get to play NHL hockey.