'Season is finished'

DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

They're slower, naturally, but "oldtimers" on a traveling Legendary Hockey Heroes team showed they still have a lot of moves during a charity game against the local Law Enforcement Torch Team at the Civic Centre last night. Off ice, they've even been practising a new move lately -- the head shake in disgust -- when asked about the contract stalemate between NHL owners and players.

What follows is a sampling of opinions from former NHLers -- and even a longtime referee -- on hand for the fundraiser in aide of the Ontario Special Olympics.

GASTON GINGRAS

(1979-89 with Montreal, Toronto and St. Louis)

"Basically, they're both at fault. I really do think the salaries are way too high. It's to the point where it's almost ridiculous. I think they'll have to just get to talking, first of all. This is a $2 billion industry and they're hurting so many people. All the suppliers, hotels, the traveling ... I hope they can find a solution and soon. This season is finished, for sure, but they have to find it for next year. They're going to hurt hockey. People are doing other things. That's the scary part. This is Canada. Imagine what's going to happen in the United States ... Did I believe it would get to this point? No. I thought they were smart enough to realize what's at stake. I think the players live in another world ... they don't realize. I know they compare themselves to other players -- if he's worth $3 million so am I -- but they've got to realize a lot of companies are falling down ... people are losing jobs."

KIRK MULLER

(1984-2003 with New Jersey, Montreal, Islanders, Toronto, Florida and Dallas)

"My big thing is it's got to get back the trust level. You've got your x's and o's and give and takes, but both sides have got to get back to saying, 'Hey, we've got a great game here and a big piece of the pie for everybody.' ... I think both sides believe in their cause and they're going to battle for it, even into next year. If that's the case, then something's got to give, and it has to be the fact trust comes back into it, where two sides sit down and start comparing apples to apples rather than different numbers."

GILBERT PERREAULT

(1970-87 with Buffalo)

"I hope they make up their minds soon. I think it's too late to save this season, but I hope the lockout will not hurt the game too much. I hope people come back in high numbers when the game comes back. Everybody understands the NHL system. Some clubs have a lot of cash, and there are 20 or so that don't. It's always the same. They're trying to make it like baseball and football, but they can't. We don't have the same kind of TV revenues in hockey."

TONY CURRIE

(1978-85 with St. Louis, Vancouver and Hartford )

"Like anyone, I'm a fan of the game, so I'm frustrated at not having my Saturday nights anymore ... but the most frustrating part to me is there doesn't seem to be any plan of action. You have two sides not talking, and without some communication they're not going anywhere. If they can't come to some kind of agreement on how to split $2.5 billion, I don't think either side should expect any kind of fan approval. There's an awful lot of distrust, although the distrust between owners and players was probably moreso back in the days of Ted Lindsay than it is today ... but there's not a lot of businesses where employes would own in excess of 50% of revenues. So if I'm the CEO of a company and employees came up to me with that kind of request, I think I would have an issue. Mind you, it is an entertainment industry so they are the industry. It just seems to me that there's got to be a give and take. Other leagues have a cap and they seem to make it work. It's not like they're being capped at $150,000."

MARK NAPIER

(1978-89 with Montreal, Minnesota, Edmonton and Buffalo)

"I'm probably like any ex-hockey player, nobody's happy about the situation. It sure seems simple enough ... they have $2 billion to split up and they have to figure out how to do it. I can certainly see both sides of it. The pendulum used to be on the owner's side and now it's on the players' side. For the good of the game, they just have to find a way to get it right in the middle and keep everyone happy."

RON HOGGARTH

(Retired as NHL referee in 1994 after 23 years)

"As a businessman now (Hoggarth has been in the swimming pool business for the past 30 years), I do not understand (the shutdown). I understand the players' side and I understand the owners' side, but there has to be some sort of middle ground. I was on strike one time in my career, back in the early '90s when the replacement refs wore yellow jerseys, and the money I lost I never ever got back. I know this is for the future of the players, but it's also for the future of the game. I think they've got to get together and swallow their pride, both sides, and get going. There's so many people I talk to that feel they're doing other things, and other people are saying there is life after hockey. If the Canadian population feels that way, what does the American population feel?"

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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