Robitaille's grim view

Luc Robitaille says hockey might not be able to recover from this lockout and even if it does, he...

Luc Robitaille says hockey might not be able to recover from this lockout and even if it does, he may not play. (File Photo)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

As the NHL lockout drags on, Luc Robitaille is worried about the future of hockey if the season is cancelled.

"It could kill the game," the Kings winger told the Sun yesterday from Los Angeles. "If you think nobody's concerned about hockey in the United States, I can tell you here it's dead. You don't hear anything about hockey.

"There's nothing in the newspapers and there's nothing on television. I know it took baseball a long time to recover from (the 1994 strike) and if the same thing happens in hockey it could be even worse because we're already behind the 8-ball."

So if this is it for Robitaille's long, storied NHL career, he's ready to accept it. If the season is indeed lost, the chances of the 38-year-old returning next year are slim because at his age he can't afford to miss a full season.

HAPPY IN L.A.

That's why Robitaille made the most of his return to the Kings last season. After winning a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002, the former Hull Olympiques star returned to his NHL roots in L.A. and enjoyed the year.

"I told my family and I told my mother and father quietly that this could be it so I made sure that everybody got to a few games to see me and got one more chance because nobody knows what will happen this year," said Robitaille.

"I made a decision that if last year was going to be it, then I wasn't going to worry about little things. I was just going to go out, have fun and enjoy everything about playing the game. That's what I did. I used to complain about this and I would complain about that. I didn't do that last year, I just enjoyed everything about playing hockey. It made for a great year."

But Robitaille hasn't given up all hope. He's on the ice three times a week in L.A. with the likes of Sean O'Donnell, Rob Blake, Anson Carter and Mike Comrie, who has since gone to Europe. At times, there are up to 20 NHLers.

Former NHL enforcer Marty McSorley, who left his job as the coach of the Coyotes' AHL affiliate in Springfield, acts as the bench boss and puts the boys through the paces.

"Geez, Marty's tough, but it's good for us," said Robitaille.

Robitaille is, however, getting ready for his off-ice career. The 18-year NHL veteran -- who is in his third stint with the Kings -- has started to dabble in a real estate career.

Robitaille and his business partners have been looking at properties in the Los Angeles area they can develop and manage once his hockey career is over. He was going to get a real estate licence, but doesn't plan to sell property.

The deal he'd like to see struck is one between the NHL Players' Association and the league on a new collective bargaining agreement.

"I'm in touch with (Bob Goodenow), Ted Saskin and Ian Pulver at the union quite a bit. I thought we made a great offer and the league has refused to negotiate. Hopefully, they'll negotiate and we can get the season going," said Robitaille.

PLAYING IN GATINEAU

But Robitaille does have plans this weekend. He'll be at the Robert Guertin Centre on Sunday at 5 p.m. for "La Caravane McDonald" -- a tour of NHLers organized by Rangers defenceman Joel Bouchard to raise money for Ronald McDonald House.

The former Olympiques star is looking forward to going back to where it all started.

"Joel Bouchard called and he asked me to take part in the tour. This is the only one I'm going to play in and I'm only playing because it's in (Gatineau)," said Robitaille. "I haven't been in that rink since they retired my jersey four or five years ago. Put it this way: The last time I was there, Hull wasn't called Gatineau."


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