We're just humble kids: NHLer

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:08 AM ET

At a time when they should be firing pucks, National Hockey League players must score some public relations points. Although they have as many beefs as the owners in this collective bargaining mess, their high salaries are lightning rods for criticism from the fan on the street. That likely influenced a national newspaper poll released yesterday, showing 52% would blame players if the 2004-05 season dies, 21% the owners and 19% both.

Darcy Hordichuk of the Florida Panthers tried to change the numbers yesterday, while working out at the Original Stars Hockey League training camp at Sports Village in Vaughan.

"As far as being perceived as greedy, it's not about that," he said. "You'll see a lot of us here today are just humble kids from small towns, happy to be in the NHL. Now that we've beaten the odds to get here, I think we should get what we deserve."

Wade Belak of the Maple Leafs challenged any person to turn down a big contract if it were offered or to accept a pay cut for his employer's error.

"It's like a guy who makes $60,000 a year and his boss says, 'we've overpaid you, you should make $30,000,' " Belak said. "He's not going to want to give up the right to make that money. But we're not asking for more money, we're looking for a luxury tax/revenue-sharing decision that will help both sides; give the owners money and at the same time, keep what we have."

MODEST INCOME

The OSHL, a four-on-four format which begins tonight in Barrie, is going to provide a modest income for participants, with some profits destined for charity. The six-team league will play in smaller venues in southern Ontario and has plans to barnstorm in Western Canada.

"It pays the bills and will mean less pressure to sign a (CBA in desperation)," Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Jassen Cullimore said. "It's not what I'd make in the NHL, but it's better than staying home and doing nothing. I just signed a four-year deal (worth $9.8 million US) and there's a chance a year or two of that might be eaten up by this."

Plans are afoot for players, mostly clients of the International Management Group, to tour Europe in late autumn.


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