NHL Lockout, Day 2: Players Remain United, Motivated As Lockout Begins
NHL players are “motivated, unified and ready for a fight” as the league enters another lockout, according to Adam Jahns of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The owners’ “opening proposal that called for a 24 percent pay cut and new restrictions on contracts, free agency and arbitration only emboldened them.” The players “believe their revenue-sharing proposals would help stabilize the league, while NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said little on the subject.” The lockout does not get past the “most basic level for most players.” Jahns: "To them, it's, ‘We gave up a lot last time around. We won’t do it again’” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/17). Bruins G Tuukka Rask said, “Why the heck are we doing this? The system has worked. It was (the owners’) idea to put that system together and they were happy with it. Now they want to change it? It’s frustrating.” Bruins LW Milan Lucic said, “As a union, as players, we’re together, we’re all on the same page now. It was good to see 283 players be (in New York for meetings Wednesday and Thursday) and be part of what went on there” (BOSTON HERALD, 9/15). Capitals C and player rep Brooks Laich said, “Any conversation starting with a rollback of player salary is the end of the conversation. If they start with that that’s the end of it. We’re not going to accept that” (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 9/14). Jets C Bryan Little said, “It's just frustrating that the salaries and the cutbacks would be that much from the players when overall, the league is making money” (WINNIPEG SUN, 9/16).
READY FOR ANYTHING: Sabres G Ryan Miller, in reference to the ’04-05 lockout, said, “We know the lengths that the owners and Gary are willing to go, so it is intimidating. All we have is our bond and how strongly we stick together and how strongly we feel about the agreement that we can work out” (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/16). Hurricanes C Eric Staal said of the owners, “It’s hard to put a finger on what they’re really after. Since the last lockout, we’ve made over a billion dollars more and the league has grown every year. And now they want [to] take a cut right off the top?” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/15). Flames D Chris Butler: “It’s unfortunate it’s come to this. The most frustrating thing is it’s tough to bargain and tough to negotiate with a group that doesn’t feel like it wants to listen to what we have to say” (CALGARY SUN, 9/16). Wild C Matt Cullen: “If you told me six months ago the owners would do another lockout, I never would have believed it. It’s frustrating being a part of it again. It feels like something you shouldn’t have to go through twice in your career” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 9/17). Oilers D Nick Schultz: “A lockout sucks, but it’s definitely a different feeling than 2004-05 where basically you knew it was going to be a long time.” He added, “We believe in the process and what we’re doing and the deal we’re trying to get to make sure this isn’t happening all the time” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/16).
UNITY ONLY GOES SO FAR: In Toronto, Mark Zeisberger noted Penguins C Sidney Crosby’s “public backing for union leadership is key.” To have the “face of the sport in your corner like that is an indication to both the public and the owners of just how unified the players are” (TORONTO SUN, 9/16). But in Detroit, Helene St. James wrote, “As unified as the players are this time, as informed as they are … they're going to fold faster than the owners again, because there's no doubt the owners will wait as long as it takes.” Owners have “less motivation to cede ground than players” because they are “not the ones not getting paid their usual salaries” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/16). The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc said, “The players are going to lose this, and I think they know that. But they just don’t want to lose as badly as they did last time” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 9/14). In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason wrote the owners are “virtually certain to come away victorious because they have two things in abundance that players do not: Time and money.” Gleason: “Take away an NHL salary for a year from a player, and it's gone for good. A few million bucks to Jeremy Jacobs, Ed Snider and Terry Pegula amounts to change in the ashtray. Ten million dollars is less than half of 1 percent of their total wealth” (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/16).