In the eye of the Tiger ...

DAN TOTH, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

Tiger Williams has a solution to the NHL lockout and, not surprisingly, it involves a Prairie boy's unique perspective. "They should have drove an hour north of Calgary, an hour north of Regina and an hour north of Winnipeg to pick up three ol' farms boys and took them to Toronto," suggests the retired NHLer, who learned to skate on the ponds that dot the landscape surrounding Weyburn, Sask.

"In two hours they would have put a deal together that made sense for both sides.

"These guys now (NHL owners and NHLPA) obviously don't have the ability on both sides to get to that common ground and figure out how this can work for both sides. They'd rather talk to the media and leak stuff out, do this and do that."

Williams, 50, is in town this weekend to again participate in the annual Esso 3-on-3 Pond Hockey Classic today at the Corral with his Vancouver Canucks alumni squad taking the ice as the defending champions.

As with almost everything, Williams, who toiled 14 seasons in Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Detroit and Hartford, has an opinion on the current lockout that has darkened NHL arenas the past four months.

As a former player and businessman who owns a Calgary company involved in the oil industry, Williams views the NHL's labour problems from both ends of the spectrum, insisting he's not taking sides.

"They have the right as owners (to demand a salary cap) and the players have the right to say 'I'm not playing for that. I'm not going to work for that," Williams argues.

"That's why it's wrong for anybody to say, 'What's the fan going to think about it?' The employee is playing the game and if he thinks he's worth more, he doesn't have to play. The owners want to change the way things have been going, they've drawn a line in the sand and they're not budging.

"The posturing by the players' association to say, 'We'll never do this, we'll never sign that,' well, they might have to eat some crow now because they opened their mouths."

Although the NHL season appears destined to be wiped out without ever starting, today's pond hockey action will go as planned, offering a reprieve for puck starved fans.

Williams says the format provides a journey back in time to when the game was wide-open, played in its purest form.

"I like the concept," Williams says. "The NHL should take the pond hockey concept -- no referees, no rules, no whistles -- I love that.

"These jam tarts started making all the rules ... I remember as a kid playing pond hockey in Saskatchewan, if you didn't like it, go home!"

Williams started participating with the inaugural event nine years ago and has enjoyed the charity tournament's growth.

And should co-chairmen Perry Berezan and Colin Patterson of the Flames Alumni suddenly flex their muscles by locking out the aging NHL stars, Tiger again has an answer.

"There's absolutely no risk of that and it doesn't matter, we'd go play anyway," he said.

The tourney starts at 10 a.m.


Videos

Photos