Goodenow can kiss my ...

TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Stupidity. Arrogance. How else can you describe the NHL's labour turmoil?

Stupid to get to this point, teetering on the hope that a couple of the NHL's star players can hastily retreat from the thorny garden path their leader has led them down.

And arrogant to put themselves above the game. With no regard for the NHL's fans.

At the risk of landing on the receiving end of a Tie Domi sucker punch, I've got to take a couple of jabs at the players.

Salary cap? What are they afraid of?Here's the way a conversation with an NHLer would go:

"So why won't you take a salary cap?"

"Uh, uh ... well ... it won't work. We have to preserve our system for future generations of NHL players. It wouldn't be fair to them. Under no circumstances will we accept a cap."

"But why won't you accept a cap?"

"Uh, uh ... well, it's wrong. It doesn't work. Just ask NFL players."

"NFL players actually think it works just fine. Have you talked to any of them? They're getting huge signing bonuses ... they're laughing all the way to the bank. Even though they can be cut at any point in their contract. They do not have job certainty, something the NHL says its players can keep. Yet they're still happy."

"Uh, uh ... well, a cap is wrong ... at least that's what Bob Goodenow says."

There we have it. Bob Goodenow. The shepherd and his flock of sheep. Baa Baa. The sheep are bleating. Afraid to speak their minds. Afraid of Goodenow and his merry gang of knuckleheads. Curly, Larry and Moe. The Stooges. Somehow, though, this isn't funny, it's tragic.

Geez, my anger has been building. Bumbling billionaires and greedy, misinformed millionaires, unable to sit in a room together and hammer out a deal.

NHL players, for the most part, are nice people. Down-to-earth, unassuming. Playing for the love of the game? I guess not.

They are just wrong on this.

Dead wrong.

They've already lost plenty of salary. Will they ever get that back? Brendan Shanahan, who has made plenty of money in the NHL, says a deal may not be struck this year, next year or the year after that. A Wing and a prayer?

Future Hall-of-Famer (not!) Sean Avery says he'll sit out a couple of years if necessary. I've got news for you, Sean ... you're an undersized, hard-working overachiever ... dime a dozen. They can find your replacement in a beer league somewhere. How does flipping burgers for minimum wage sound?

If the season dies, our best hope is that somehow, some way, the NHL kickstarts itself with replacement players.

ISN'T ABOUT THEM

And then, maybe then, NHLers will realize that the game isn't about them. Toronto Maple Leafs fans love Mats Sundin and Gary Roberts and Darcy Tucker ... but they'll buy a reduced-price ticket to see a game no matter who's wearing the uniforms. It's all about loyalty. Thanks to Harold Ballard, Leafs fans have witnessed some of the worst teams of the past 40 years. Yet Leafs fans remained Leafs fans.

And Ottawa fans lived through expansion. We've seen some horrible hockey over the years. Another bad game or two isn't going to kill us.

Replacement players in Pittsburgh aren't a bad idea at all. Fans would welcome the improvement.

It isn't about the players ... it's about the team, the sweater the players wear.

A Toronto fan is a Toronto fan. An Ottawa fan is an Ottawa fan.

Put a team on the ice ... and they'll come ... and they'll cheer.

The first major pro league to cancel an entire season? Nice legacy that would be.

If Goodenow is so sure of support among his troops, he should hold a private vote.

We suspect most NHLers want to go back to work ... finding some kind of compromise on the NHL's terms.

I guarantee you if I was an NHL player, I'd stand up to Goodenow and tell him to kiss my ass. I'd want to go back to work. Right now.


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