Hey, NHLers, puck stops here

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:11 PM ET

The rumblings are out there. Polls of players on teams in hockey's minor leagues are turning up a majority (in some cases a big majority) of players who say they are willing to be replacement players this fall if the NHL owners are successful in moving in that direction. NHL players have no one but themselves to blame for the apparent willingness of non-NHLers to take their sweaters if it comes to that.

NHL players made a gross miscalculation and failed to contemplate the repercussions when they decided -- almost 400 of them -- to take off for Europe to play this season or to drop down into North America's lower pro leagues to "stay in shape."

In doing so, they alienated the players whose jobs they took.

The message from the NHLers was, "That's hockey. It's every man for himself. That's the way hockey has always been."

Now, for the sake of a salary that is only a fraction of what they could have earned in the NHL or for the "chance to stay in shape," they have created a pool of players who are apparently willing to take their places.

It's going to be pretty hard to stomach any NHLers complaining about replacement players if it comes to that this fall.

The NHLers opened the door to replacements when they boarded planes for Europe by the hundreds.

They can't complain when other players now walk through it.

Every man for himself, the way hockey's always been, right?


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