Sens' staffers hit hardest by NHL lockout
Front-office staffers early casualties of lockout — and things will only get worse
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Scotiabank Place. (QMI Agency Files)
OTTAWA - As the clock struck midnight Saturday, the doors of the Senators dressing room were slammed shut to the players.
The lockout is sadly, officially under way.
Only time will tell how long the dispute between the NHL and the NHL Players Association will last, but the collateral damage is already being felt in the Senators’ front office and it’s only going to get worse the longer this drags on.
It’s believed some employees were given layoff notices weeks ago that will take effect Monday if there’s no agreement in place, while many kept on staff during the lockout are down to four-day work weeks at 80% of their salaries.
The Senators aren’t unique in these measures. The Montreal Canadiens have confirmed all their employees are working four-day weeks. It was reported last month the Calgary Flames are offering unpaid leave during the NHL work stoppage.
Yes, the picture is grim.
Saturday was supposed to be the opener of the rookie tournament for the Senators in London, but it was cancelled earlier in the summer. The club now has to make a decision on its two-day charity golf tournament set for Wednesday/Thursday.
The players, who collected their equipment Friday at Scotiabank Place, will try to stay busy by skating under the watchful eye of former NHLer John Chabot in Kanata on ice they’ve rented five days a week starting Monday.
They’ll be keeping one eye on negotiations, but they didn’t have to concern themselves with that issue Saturday because there weren’t even any CBA discussions between the NHL and NHLPA as the clock ticked toward the deadline.
Senators players are willing to be patient for a deal because they felt the offer the NHLPA made last month — that included a revenue-sharing fund to help the small marker teams — is the solution to the battle between the two sides.
“What we’d like to do is make a deal so that we don’t have to go through this every time,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who attend the union meetings in New York Wednesday and Thursday.
“We feel we’ve done our homework and this is the way to help out the owners by giving back some money from us. At the same time, we need the wealthier teams to support the teams that don’t have as much revenue as the big ones. That’s going to take some time. I know we’ve been through this before. I have no problem with missing some time.”
The players will start looking at options for playing.
“It seems like it’s a little premature (to be talking about playing) right now,” said Spezza. “I think going forward you’re going to see more guys thinking about it and talking about it.
“It basically it’s going to come down to wanting to play hockey and you’re going to have to stay sharp. Everybody is going to approach it differently. There’s definitely been a lot of talk amongst the guys that guys want to try to play. Guys are going to find jobs somewhere else.”
Spezza, who has taken a leadership role in helping to organize the player skates in Ottawa, said he’s not sure how long he’ll give it before trying to find a job elsewhere.
“I’ve tossed around dates with my wife a little bit and talked about things, but nothing concrete,” he said. “I’m just going to kind of wait and see. I have a little bit of a feel of what’s best for me but it’s too early right now to tell.
“I’m just going to skate (in Ottawa) right now but I do want to play somewhere if this thing drags on a little bit.”
This is only the beginning.