Maltby says talks must continue

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

OWEN SOUND -- Kirk Maltby says that if the NHL season is cancelled, the two sides owe it to the game to continue working so the 2005-06 season starts on time.

"If the season is lost this year and we don't play, there definitely should be no excuse why they can't lock themselves in some room and get something worked out between now and next fall," Maltby said yesterday after speaking to the OHL All-Star Classic luncheon.

The former Owen Sound captain has won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings.

"I wish we could go back to the summer and have the thing resolved. But that's not what happened, and now it's just a matter of using what time is left in trying to get this resolved and something salvaged for this year."

While many NHLers are playing in Europe during the lockout, Maltby, 32, has stayed at home in the Detroit area with his wife and 10-month-old daughter.

"Heaven forbid there is no season next year. (But) then I would maybe consider going somewhere," he said.

Three of his Detroit teammates -- Chris Chelios, Kris Draper and Derian Hatcher -- joined the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League on Tuesday. Hatcher played last night in Flint, Mich., while Chelios and Draper will play their first games tomorrow.

The UHL has a salary cap and the signings brought strong reaction from some league players.

"The hypocrisy of it is unbelievable," all-time minor league scoring leader Kevin Kerr of the Flint Generals told the Detroit Free Press. "They don't want a salary cap but they'll come to a league that has a salary cap and take someone else's job."

Maltby said he respects the opinion of dissenting players.

"I can definitely understand where they're coming from. I'm not sure of the situation there . . . whether there was room . . . but I can definitely see it from a person on another team, or a person looking from the outside in.

"It's the same situation with the guys who have gone over to Europe during the lockout. It's the nature of the beast, I guess. In a sense, it's no different from the Europeans coming over here.

"(But) everyone is playing because they love the game. I don't hold them at fault for that, but I can definitely see the point and view of a person saying that."

Then there's the issue of being injured while playing in an inferior league.

"I would never want to knock any league . . . (but) obviously those three guys have a little more at stake," Maltby said.

"It shows we just want to play."


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