November 15, 2012
Eric Lindros gives NHL owners an 'F' for role in lockout
By KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - If you want to get Eric Lindros wound up, ask him about the NHL lockout, which has not-so-quietly extended into a third month — with no negotiations scheduled and no real end in sight.
The retired NHLer and former NHLPA ombudsman wasn’t overly optimistic when asked to give his opinion during a break in the action at the Mike Keane Celebrity Hockey Classic on Thursday afternoon.
“Mine is going to differ from someone on the owner’s side, that’s for sure,” said Lindros, who retired in November of 2007 following a career that was cut short by injuries. “There’s nothing the players are getting out of this (prospective) agreement. They’re giving. It’s just how much are they going to give. I’m a bit frustrated with it.”
Lindros can’t believe that after getting a salary cap and significant rollback in 2005 that the owners are asking players to take less money once again, especially after watching record revenues grow $1 billion since the last lockout.
“The players are willing to go to 50% (of hockey related revenues), but they want their contracts honoured,” Lindros said. “If someone signs a deal, stick with the deal. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I hope they can get it fixed. We miss hockey.”
In speaking to a handful of players on Thursday at the MTS Iceplex, it’s clear everyone is worried about the potential harm another lost season might have on the sport.
“Anytime you start doing this type of thing, there’s always a certain amount of damage, said former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Wendel Clark. “The last time we recouped pretty quickly but you never know when you go through these type of situations. You run the risk of your avid fan that is absolutely at every game and then he finds other things to do. You’re giving people a different choice because there wasn’t hockey around.
“I sympathize with both sides. Basically, you’re just hoping both sides can figure it out. I’m not taking one side or the other, they need to find a way so we can start watching our game of hockey again”
While it’s admirable for the NHLPA to stand together united in the search for a better deal, the harsh reality is if another season is lost, it will represent a year of lost wages and quite possibly push a substantial number of players right out of the league.
“It’s not good for anybody,” former Maple Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph said. “I’ve been through it. The average lifespan of an NHL player is five years and to take a whole year is 20% of your earnings.
“I’m a fan now and I want to see some hockey. It’s tough. I understand the battle. The owners deserve to make money, but I know the guys on the (bargaining committee) and they’re good people, with good hockey minds. The deal has got to be fair also.”
“It’s disheartening, for sure,” added former Edmonton Oilers defenceman Paul Coffey. “As a former player, I suspect there’s a deal to be had out there. The best thing to do is to take (Gary) Bettman and (Donald) Fehr out of the room and let the other guys decide.
“It’s a real shame. (Hockey) is a great game. There’s a lot of players that have done well to grow the game and they’re never going to get that money back. The real losers (in the lockout) are the fans, the people that work outside the rink, drive the zamboni, work the bars. It’s too bad.”