Bob Goodenow has delivered a grim message to members of the NHL Players Association: Don't count on any hockey this season, and maybe next year as well. Sources told the Sun yesterday the union's executive director posted an audio message on the NHLPA's website -- The Source -- which told players they should accept any job opportunities in Europe immediately.
And to put an exclamation point on the matter, sources say Goodenow also told the players to take any contracts in Europe that may be available next year because it appears the lockout is going to drag on.
"I don't think we'll be playing. There's no communication ... I don't think we'll be playing this season at all," said centre Eric Lindros, who was allowed to become an unrestricted free agent by the New York Rangers last summer.
"The bottom line for both sides is nobody should be worrying about public perception right now or who is right and who is wrong in all of this. They should be putting their energy into trying to get a deal done. It's not going to matter who is winning the battle for public opinion if we don't get a deal done."
A source insisted yesterday the NHL will make an offer next week, but nobody is optimistic. Lindros, 31, in town last night for the Esso 3-on-3 Classic at the Corel Centre in support of Roger's House, said he feels for the people who are affected.
"It affects everybody," said Lindros. "I was just talking to Brad Marsh, we're having the reception at Marshy's after the game, and he was saying that business is just terrible. There are so many people losing money.
"I just don't think there's much reason for optimism with nothing happening right now. We offered them the 24% (salary) rollback and I thought that was a very good offer. They didn't want it. We know that hockey is going to be back. But I can't tell you when and in what form."
Former NHL goalie Kay Whitmore said the players were galvanized by the league's rejection of the 24% salary cut, but he wondered if the union will be able to withstand a two-year work stoppage.
"The only way someone is going to win is if both sides find a compromise, sit down right now and get a deal done," said Whitmore. "If that happens, then maybe both sides would truly be happy with what's happened.
"But the players' chances of winning don't improve the longer this goes. The deadline for the players to get their best deal is right now. I'm sure if this year is lost, it will be a bit of a shock."
Centre Kirk Muller, a 19-year NHL veteran and a former member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, said the two sides won't be able to find any agreement until there's some trust between them.
"I'd be very surprised if there is any hockey this year," he said.