If dark days indeed are ahead for NHL Players' Association union boss Bob Goodenow, it's going to take more than comments from lightweights such as Sean Avery and Manny Legace to oust him from his job.
Not everyone holds Goodenow responsible for the NHL collective bargaining agreement, that, once it is ratified next week, appears to be heavily in favour of the team owners.
"I'm not bitter about the deal," New York Islanders player representative Adrian Aucoin told Newsday. "(Goodenow) did his job. He put up a fight. Sean Avery (of the Los Angeles Kings) said we were being brainwashed, but (Goodenow) had us prepared the right way. I think he did what he had to do."
Many expect the players' meeting in Toronto next Tuesday and Wednesday to be heated, to say the least. But Scott Mellanby of the Atlanta Thrashers is another respected veteran who yesterday refused to point a finger at Goodenow.
"I've been disappointed in us as players," Mellanby told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"There has been a lot of talk about how Bob let everyone down. We as players let Bob down. For players to say we got a worse deal, we got a one-page fax in February with (a cap of $42.5 million) on it. The paperwork with the lawyers is a 600-page document. It's irresponsible with some of the reaction some of the players have had."
Forward Mike Knuble of the Boston Bruins fully expects voices will be raised at the congregation in Toronto.
"There are going to be guys who will be very, very upset at that meeting as to why we didn't get to this last year and what the whole point was," Knuble told the Boston Herald. "That's the toughest question that Bob and his guys will have to face. Whether it costs him his job, I don't know."
Many of the players interviewed across the continent yesterday spoke of the desire and relief to get back on skates when training camps open in September. There has been no NHL hockey since June 7, 2004, the night the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Calgary Flames in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final.
One of the more outspoken players during the lockout (and during any regular NHL season, for that matter) has been forward Jeremy Roenick of the Philadelphia Flyers.
"To be totally honest, I really don't care what the deal is anymore," Roenick told the Associated Press. "All I care about is getting the game back on the ice."