NHL Lockout, Day 44: Suter Backs Off Critical Comments Toward Wild Front Office
Wild D Ryan Suter said that critical comments he made of Wild Owner Craig Leipold to ESPN The Magazine on Friday "came off wrong and that he just wants to play," according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Suter yesterday said of Leipold and GM Chuck Fletcher, "I know they're good people. And I know they wouldn't negotiate thinking, 'OK, let's give them this because it'll end up being this.'" He added, "I don't question Craig. I don't feel like it was negotiated unfaithfully or untruthfully" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 10/29). Suter on Friday said, "It's disappointing that the owners, they sign all these guys and some guys were signed within the last week before the CBA was up. Now, they're trying to go back on their word. ... If you can't afford to (sign contracts) then you shouldn't do it. (Leipold) signed us to contracts. At the time he said everything was fine" (ESPN.com, 10/26).
PLAYERS GETTING CRITICAL: Blue Jackets D Jack Johnson "posted his thoughts about the NHL lockout on his own website Sunday, ripping the league and team owners in a piece titled 'Where is the honor?'" Johnson wrote, "The concept that the owners are trying to dismantle existing contracts that they in good faith offered, signed, and committed to is appalling, unprofessional and disgraceful" (QMI AGENCY, 10/28). In Vancouver, Iain MacIntyre writes Suter's criticism of Leipold "delivered the most direct and damaging blow so far against the league." Bettman is "perfectly built for his task" and is "publicly impervious to criticism." Owners, with "civic standing and other businesses in play, typically are not." It will be "fascinating to see if other players now take the fight to the club level, bypassing Bettman and criticizing their owners by name." Railing against Bettman "has done players no good" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/29). Lightning RW Martin St. Louis said, "We're telling everybody we're going to 50 percent, let's share the responsibility to get there. ... When there's a problem, we have to fix it all the time. They don't want to take responsibility, too" (TAMPABAY.com, 10/26). Wild C Matt Cullen said, "Once the full season is off the table, it's understanding all of a sudden everything goes south. ... I really hope that we can get this back on the rails and get back in the room talking here and get this thing done and get back on the ice. I think all of us understand that the window is very short before this thing can get really ugly." He added, "We're extremely close when you look at the whole big picture" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 10/26).
EUROPEAN INFLUENCES: The AP reported that the KHL said that two games between Dynamo Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg that had been "set for Brooklyn's new Barclays Center have been moved back to Russia." The teams were "supposed to meet in Brooklyn on Jan. 19 and 20," but the league announced Friday they "instead will play in St. Petersburg on Jan. 20 and in Moscow two days later." The KHL said that it "made the switch because of the NHL lockout" (AP, 10/26). QMI AGENCY noted the reason for the cancellation "wasn't clear." It would seem that "if the NHL was still in lockout mode, the games in Brooklyn would have provided the KHL with a big boost in visibility and media coverage" (QMI AGENCY, 10/27). YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote in "many ways, the vast majority of European players would rather be playing in the NHL than the KHL or anywhere else right now." They are "just visiting these leagues." But there also is a "reason a few European players have threatened to stay home if the NHL cuts their pay dramatically." In North America, they "feel like visitors culturally, and the NHL's advantage as a league, while still large, isn't quite as large as it used to be." Senators D Sergei Gonchar said, "Playing over here, it's much more enjoyable now than it was. To be honest with you, I'm enjoying it here. For me, it goes either way (if the entire NHL season is canceled). I like it here. I enjoy my teammates. We have a great team. So I don't care" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/27).
CHARITY GAMES GO ON: In Chicago, Chris Kuc noted members of the ’10 Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks on Friday night “skated together during the ‘Champs for Charity’ exhibition at Allstate Arena.” The game raised an announced $353,000 for “Ronald McDonald House Charities of Illinois and Northwest Indiana” and a crowd of 11,649 was reported (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 10/26). Also in Chicago, Adam Jahns noted it was "an impressive crowd for a charity game.” The atmosphere at the game “was better than at the last two NHL All-Star Games.” It served as "proof that fans ultimately will come back after the NHL’s lockout no matter how infuriated they are and no matter how many times you hear that the league is destroying itself with another lockout.” Jahns: “They came back in 1995. They came back in 2005. And they’ll come back after this one” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/28). In DC, Stephen Whyno noted the fans “provided an entertaining atmosphere and the game evolved like an all-star game in which all the players wanted to be there” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/28). The STAR TRIBUNE's Russo notes 30 NHLers last night “put on a show for 3,000 NHL-starved fans at Mariucci Arena” to benefit charity (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/29).