Bryan McCabe doesn't necessarily side with Andrew Ference but he has an understanding of where his NHL brother is coming from.
"We're a bunch of different personalities and things will come out, but collectively we are still on the same page," McCabe, the Maple Leafs' union rep, said yesterday. "Everybody is going to have days where they are frustrated."
Ference, a defenceman with the Calgary Flames, became the latest NHL player to raise eyebrows when he ripped both the NHL and NHL Players' Association in an interview with Sun Media. Ference didn't mind saying how fed up he is with the current lack of negotiations between the sides.
"It's asinine and it's both sides," Ference said. "How are you going to solve a conflict without communication?I don't understand the motivation behind sitting around.
"Even if you're not going to talk to the other guy, why not put forward some ideas you have so the public can see them and can say, 'These guys are putting forward an effort.'
"I understand there's an art to negotiation but right now, they're pretty s----- artists."
In the past few weeks, players such as Steve Thomas, John Madden and Juraj Kolnik have made comments only to clarify them once they've become public. But McCabe insisted that NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow has not slapped a gag order on the players.
"Never, not once,"McCabe said from his home on Long Island, N.Y.