As one of the most popular Maple Leafs in history and a 20-year National Hockey Leaguer, Doug Gilmour would be a valuable ally for owners or players during the lockout. But the high-profile former Toronto captain is being careful not to make public appearances or pronouncements that can be seen as supportive of either CBA combatant.
"I'm not here to choose sides," Gilmour said yesterday at a news conference for the Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic game on Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. "I had an opportunity to coach in the four-on-four (Original Stars Hockey League), but I'm not going to do that. I'm on the fence."
Gilmour is barely a year removed from his playing days, which ended when he tore the anterior and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee shortly after returning to the Leafs. But he also is friendly with the club hierarchy and there is speculation he will work for the club one day.
"My life has changed," said Gilmour, who declined recent offers to play in the minors. "I was in the (players') association for 20 years. I know their side, I know what they're talking about. But I just want to see it resolved -- for the love of the game."
Gilmour hopes the Legends game, to be played at the Air Canada Centre, won't be the only match that day and that the regularly scheduled Hall of Fame game between the Leafs and Boston Bruins takes place that night.
"It almost feels as though (this lockout) is a little more serious," he said. "When we were locked out in 1994, I went to Switzerland to play, but just about every day I was waiting for the phone call to come back. We knew it would be resolved, it was just a matter of time."
The Original Six Legends will play the Expansion Legends in a game that will feature Gilmour and 2004 Hall inductees Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque and Larry Murphy. Also playing are Wendel Clark, Borje Salming and Tiger Williams. The game will include presentation of Hall blazers, a ceremony that never has been held in public, in advance of the official induction Nov. 8.
The induction weekend also includes a concert Nov. 6 by the Jim Cuddy Band and an online auction of goalie masks designed for and autographed by Don Cherry and the Tragically Hip. The Canadian Spinal Research Organization is the principal charity.