WINNIPEG - The NHL lockout has gotten downright scary for some of our kids.
In fact, one youngster dressed up as a ghoulish locked-out NHL player for Halloween. Troy Borthistle, 10, wore plastic chains around his neck with a giant lock and a sign that said, 'Bettman, I'll Play,' on one side and, 'Will Play For Candy,' on the other.
"I want it to be gone," Borthistle, who plays for the A1 Atom Deer Lodge Blades, said before a game at the St. James Civic Centre on Saturday. "I miss the NHL. I just love hockey."
Borthistle was one of a number of players whom The Sun polled for their opinion about the lockout at various rinks over the weekend.
"I blame (NHL commissioner Gary) Bettman," he said. "I'm angry because I want the NHL back."
But there were actually more kids who blamed the players than Bettman.
"It's ridiculous because it's about a bunch of people with lots of money wanting more," said Brayden Solberg, 14, of the Bantam 2 Selkirk Steelers. "I blame the NHL and the players. They should stop being babies.
"I'm very angry, I want to watch some hockey."
Solberg's teammate, Nico Morrow-Litke, echoed those sentiments.
"It's actually very greedy for the players to be really selfish to want more money, and they should be playing now anyways," he said. "They're great players but I think they're being really greedy because they're already making a million dollars a year."
Greed was a common theme.
“It’s the players’ (fault)," said James Barclay of the Bantam AAA Winnipeg Hawks. "I’m mad because they’re getting greedy and they want more. I don’t think that’s really fair. They sound like a bunch of overpaid cry babies.
“I give the owners some blame because they shouldn’t be giving them that much money … It’s terrible. I don’t know what to watch on TV anymore."
Turner Street, nine, of the A3 Minor Atom Corydon Comets doesn't know who to blame.
"I want to see the NHL this year," he said. "So, I don't like the lockout right now. I'm disappointed."
Some players were simply frustrated.
"I blame both because the players are showing that they're just playing for the money and Gary Bettman because he doesn't want to negotiate with them at all," said John Higgs of the Bantam 1 Fort Garry Flyers. "Garry Bettman hasn't done anything good for the game since he got employed (by the NHL)."
Teammate Riley Thomson was more disappointed than angry.
"I hate it. I love watching hockey and it just sucks," he said. "I don't like watching basketball."
Entire families are missing out.
“I absolutely hate it," said Abbey Mondor of the Bantam Girls Bord-Aire Wings. "I’m used to sitting with my family and watching hockey every night."
Cam Foster, a goalie for the St. James-Assiniboia Hockey Academy, concurred.
“I honestly don’t think it’s right that we don’t have hockey,” he said. “The owners are being greedy. Being a Canadian, you should be able to come home and watch hockey on TV every night.”
Most of the kids interviewed still view the NHL players as heroes and will return to games with the same enthusiasm they did before the lockout — if it ever ends.
"They should just make a deal and play," said Kristopher Beatty, Borthistle's teammate. "I'm disappointed that no one's playing but they can still make a deal."
That's the right idea, said Meghan Hodgins, who plays for both the Sturgeon Heights Huskies and Bord-Aire.
"They should just get their stuff together and play some hockey again," she said.
Out of the mouths of babes.
— With files from Ken Wiebe