Ottawa Senators defenceman Marc Methot and other NHLers work out with the Carleton Ravens
DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
|Ottawa Senator, Marc Methot, takes part in a skating drill while practicing with the Carleton Ravens' mens hockey team at the Ice House at Carleton University Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. (Darren Brown/QMI Agency)
Like after almost every other first-snowfall-of-the-year in his life, Marc Methot brushed off his vehicle and headed to the rink.
On this Monday, however, the Senators defenceman was going back to school in the process. He and a handful of his fellow locked out NHLers were joining the gracious Carleton Ravens for an early-morning practice at the ‘Ice House.’
“The last time I wasn’t playing hockey at this time of year, I would have been three years old,” said Methot, now 27 and anxious to begin his first season with his hometown team. “That kind of speaks volumes, doesn’t it?”
What it says is what you know — on Day 72, the lockout was already 1,728 hours too old.
“I don’t know what to do with myself,” said Methot. “I’m skating, I’m working hard. This morning we were almost puking after the bag skate we had.
“I don’t want to be doing this. I want to play. It’s great and classy for Carleton to invite us out, but I’d obviously rather be playing in the NHL right now.
“I just want to get this started. And I don’t want to play under the terms we’re being offered right now. I don’t think it’s even remotely fair. But if we can get a little closer, maybe we can start agreeing on some things and get it going.”
Perhaps the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service can help.
“Mediation, eh? Interesting,” said Methot. “The biggest thing for me is that it will bring clarity, to both sides, and it sorta ‘calls out’ whoever is out of line.”
The smart money is on the owners — as in, it’s the owners who are out of line. While both sides deserve blame, they made the mistakes they’re demanding the players fix.
And it’s the owners who appear to be refusing to negotiate — or move from their heel marks in the sand.
“It’s like they have an agenda right now,” said Methot. “At first we had to figure out the economics, the revenue sharing. The economics side isn’t even an issue anymore. Now they’re going after our contracting rights. It almost seems like they’re only after whatever they can get now.
“They’ve given us one proposal, and they won’t budge.”
Last week, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr met with a group of players, including Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, in Phoenix. Decertification of the union was mentioned as an avenue, though not likely one Fehr wants to cross.
The complicated process would bring all the ugliness to a court room, but it’s lengthy and could also wipe out the rest of the season.
“That’s not for sure,” said Methot. “It can also put a little pressure on the owners to maybe settle on something a little more reasonable. If it puts pressure on everybody to get something done, I’m all for it. I think everyone feels that way, as long as we get something somewhat fair.”
Methot, who was playing for the OHL’s London Knights during the last lockout, spent six seasons before July 1 as a Columbus Blue Jacket. That means he has moved from a team finishing fourth lowest in average attendance last season to one that was sixth highest.
Methot isn’t too concerned about the future of his former team — even though the now cancelled 2013 all-star game was slated for Nationwide Arena.
“The one thing you can really appreciate about Columbus...they are legit sports fans,” he said. “The unfortunate truth with the Blue Jackets is just that we weren’t winning a lot of hockey games.
“I know a lot of businesses in the area were probably relying on (the all-star game), and that sucks. But I think (Columbus) can handle (lockout damage). You’re not playing in Canada, but I can’t talk (crap) about them there. They’re supportive.”
Methot thinks true fans will be in the rinks when hockey returns.
“You might lose people who go to games just to go to games for the novelty,” said Methot. “But ultimately, the real hockey fans are going to come back, you would think. That’s what the owners know; that’s why we’re all in this big mess. They know that as much as there is complaining, most of these fans are going to come back to the games.”
Even if there are none until just before next year’s first snowfall, which is both a good thing and a sad thing, really.