Mark Recchis former teammates with the Bruins still love and respect him for the future Hall of Fame legend that he is.
Theres no denying Rexs imprint on the Black and Gold squad that won the Stanley Cup two years ago, and the lessons he taught Bostons young players are still paying dividends to this day.
But those same admiring teammates arent exactly seeing eye-to-eye with Recchi after his pro-owner comments about the lockout earlier this week in the Boston Globe. For those that need a refresher, Recchi essentially advised the 700 plus members of the NHLPA that they needed to cut their losses and take the leagues latest offer before things get worse.
My advice, said Recchi, who owners part of the Kamloops Blazers junior team in British Columbia is that the longer it goes, the worse the offer is going to get for the players.
Hey, Im an owner, too, so I see both sides. We lose money on our team, and obviously thats not the same, the moneys not nearly as significant as in the NHL. But the business dynamics are similar. Weve lost money every year weve owned it.
The longer theyre out, the revenues are going to go down and down. Corporate sponsors arent going to be lining up...so there goes that money. The schedule isnt going to be 82 games, I dont think, at this point. Thats more money lost. So, how are you going to get a better deal? Personally, I think the best time is now.
The NHLPA and Exec Director Donald Fehr have publicly blanched at the idea of moving to 5050 immediately without any guarantee that player contracts will be honored, and the NHL has refused to budge on strict player contract guidelines that will severely limit a players options. Theres also a discrepancy as to how close (the NHLPA believes the two sides are a few hundred million dollars apart) or far (the NHL is saying there could be a billion dollar difference in their proposals) the two sides remain more than 60 days into the lockout.
But Recchi indicated that the players will still make their money in the system being proposed by the NHL, and its up to them to step up and accept it. Give credit where its due: Recchi lived through a pair of work stoppages including a lost season to the lockout in 2004-05. Like his past-generation peers in Jeremy Roenick and Bill Guerin, Recchi has regrets about the full season lost to labor strife.
Shawn Thornton said hes been in regular contact with his beloved former teammate, and knows exactly where Recchi sits on the lockout subject.
Not surprisingly Thornton doesnt agree. But its about more than the make whole provision or the Hockey Related Revenue formula which by the way is no longer an issue.
Ive talked to Rex a lot through this process, and I know where he stands. So its not much of a shock to me, said Thornton. But as far as it goes guys like me probably get screwed more than anybody by this lockout and I wouldnt take this deal. There is stuff in there that just isnt doable for the betterment of the league or the players.
Some of the stuff about the player rights just cant happen. There are some things that they need to move on before accepting.
When asked to elaborate, the Bs enforcer actually referenced the proposed cap on AHL salaries as a sticking point. Adding AHL players to the salary cap would unnecessarily punish longtime AHL veterans like Trent Whitfield, who deserve something for their long years of service and wealth of experience.
No matter what comes out from the other side weve given up a lot: weve given over a billion dollars, we gave a proposal on back-diving contracts and we gave a proposal on capping minor league contracts, said Thornton. I dont think you can cap a guy like Trent Whitfield thats played in that league for 16 years. Hes almost like a member of the Providence staff grooming the kids to be good professionals for when they come up to the NHL level. To take 100,000 from him just isnt right.
I was in that position during the last lockout when I was in the NHL. I went from 125,000 to 75,000 and almost had to sell my house in Oshawa. It sounds tough because I know some people dont even make 75,000, but when you have an agent, you pay rent in two places and you have a family it doesnt go a long way when you only have a ten-year career to earn money. Thats been one of my biggest concerns during the meetings: we shouldnt even be allowed to cap those AHL kids. There is stuff like that where the deal just isnt good enough yet.
Daniel Paille said he gained all manner of respect for Recchi during their two years together in Boston, but the fourth line winger disagreed with the retired forwards call for the players to sign a deal. Recchi has been linked to Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi over the past couple of years as fellow Kamloops residents, and Paille wondered if perhaps that tight relationship has slanted his viewpoint toward the owners.
A guy like Rex is highly respected by everyone and hes only been away from the game for a year, said Paille. But he does see it in a different way now. For him to say the things that he said, I was a little surprised. But hes an owner now and I think he sees it from the business aspect of it. But I think he understands it from the sense of what the players are fighting for, and thats important as well.
While his Bruins teammates had always fully adopted Recchis advice in the recent past, its no surprise theyre going their own way this time around with so much on the line for the present and future of the players.