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Kilrea has solution for NHL, NHLPA

Brain Kilrea, who leads his 67’s into action tonight, is frustrated by the NHL-NHLPA stalemate....

Brain Kilrea, who leads his 67’s into action tonight, is frustrated by the NHL-NHLPA stalemate. (Errol McGihon, Ottawa Sun)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

Ottawa 67's GM/coach Brian Kilrea is feeling the pain of the NHL lockout. He wants the impasse to end. And he's got a solution in mind.

"There should be a cap on the top eight guys on the team. Let's say a team wants to sign Mats Sundin, well then they're going to have to give up one of their top eight guys so that they can fit him into the salary structure.

"The players are still going to make a lot of money and the owners are going to spend less. That's just my opinion, but it's something they could look at."

Kilrea, like most hockey fans, is frustrated with the lockout. It's not that he has anything against the players -- he's invited locked-out NHLers to practise with the 67's -- it's just that he has a big problem with the union and some of its claims.

"It's sad because the game is going to suffer from this," said Kilrea, who belongs to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"I don't believe some of these owners are going to go on losing the kind of money they've been losing without the right system in place for the future."

Kilrea gets angry when he hears what the union has to say.

"I just get bothered when I hear the union marching out these numbers that the average NHL career is four years," he said. "I'd like you to do a survey, go down each roster and figure out how long each guy has been on each team.

"You've got to take off the guys at the bottom who play less games, guys like that goalie in Toronto, Mikael Tellqvist, and I'll bet a lot of these players have had long careers. I don't know where this four-year average comes from."

For a deal to get done, Kilrea said the owners likely have to budge from the $31-million (all terms US) salary cap that commissioner Gary Bettman has been insisting the players accept.

"I just think there's going to have to be some sharing going on between the owners, but I'm not talking about money," said Kilrea. "They're going to have to give the owners a couple of years to get a new system in place, but I believe it can be done if everybody goes in the right direction."

Senators centre Jason Spezza, minor-league winger Chris Kelly and goalie Ray Emery have been skating with the 67's. And Kilrea isn't closing the door if Todd White, Shaun Van Allen or defenceman Chris Phillips are looking to practise.

"I'm not going to say anything about the lockout (to them)," said Kilrea. "They don't need to hear it from me.

"We would never turn down any Senators player who wanted to skate with us. I've got a great relationship with Roy Mlakar and we'd do anything we can do to help that team.

"If they come and skate with us, and they're welcome, I'm not going to say, 'Well, you're on my ice and you're going to listen to me.'

"They believe in their fearless leader (NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow) and right now, they're disciples. That's fine. You can't tear a strip off a guy for what he believes in. He has that right to believe whatever he hears."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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