WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins had the largest contingent of players at the NHLPA meetings in New York City this week. The team felt as a group it was important to be fully educated on everything concerning the CBA labor battle taking place between the league and the players association.
With over 10 hours of meetings behind them during Tyler Seguin proudly proclaimed that he took notes and brought them home to study the Bruins are fully educated and properly aggravated about the situation. All members of the Black and Gold remained hopeful that the season wont get interrupted even if a lockout is imposed at midnight on Sept. 15.
But the Bruins players were also frustrated that the game they love is being taken away from them a fact they faced after participating at another informal practice session at Ristuccia Arena on Friday morning.
Its something nobody really wants to deal with. As players we want to play, but it is what it is. Well have to deal with it, said Gregory Campbell. Its a game that everybody loves. Everybody plays hockey because they love it. The players want to play and the fans want to watch us play.
There are a lot of people not just players that are involved in this business that dont want to see it go away. Its an unfortunate thing that we have to deal with. Its extremely frustrating. This is what we do for a living, but this is also something you enjoy doing.
Put yourself in the players shoes while mulling the issues: the business you work for is raking in record-breaking amounts of revenue and then gives you a choice between taking a 10-20 percent pay cut or getting booted from your job.
Seems like a pretty crappy situation, doesnt it?
That kind of Sophies Choice wasnt exactly giving the Bs skaters warm and fuzzies after realizing over the last few days theres roughly a 1 billion gap between current offers from the NHL and NHLPA. The two sides cant agree on the importance of principles like revenue sharing, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was decrying the cost of jet fuel and massage therapists as reasons why the NHL needs a greater slice of the revenue pie.
Clearly the league is entitled to something much closer to a 5050 split agreed upon by the NBA and the NFL in their most recent CBA negotiations, but the pace of discussions amid seasonal urgency has frustrated the players.
Its unfortunate were in the position that we are right now. More things need to be resolved and settled, said Milan Lucic. Im sure conversations and negotiations will heat up after tomorrow. None of us were really expecting it to get this far. But now its more of a reality. As players were united and were going to stick together and keep going on the course we believe is right.
Theres a sense among the players that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league owners want the lockout, and theyll attempt to bust up the players union once the game checks begin to disappear. Its always worked in the past, but the 283 players that showed up en masse in New York City for NHLPA meetings would seem to speak to their resolve.
We all want to play. We all love hockey. Its our job," said Bs Captain Zdeno Chara. "But we also have to play under certain rules and it has to make sense for us. Well continue to train and skate while keeping ourselves in shape.
The Bruins will take the weekend off from the ice, but will reconvene elsewhere in the Boston area starting next week when they get together for informal practices. Thats because theyll be officially locked out and barred from the ice and locker rooms at their Ristuccia Arena practice facility until Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr can hammer out an agreement.
With the NHL offering something in the neighborhood of a 47 percent share of Hockey Related Revenue and the NHLPA seeking something closer to the 5152 percent neighborhood and each percentage point representing roughly 33 million per season it could still be some time before both sides agree on something close to a 5050 split of the hockey spoils.
In the meantime the Bruins will stick around at least until the end of September, bide their time hoping for a resolution and begin to make alternate plans if the NHL is indeed headed for another nuclear winter. Todays frustration should be nothing compared to what it will be a month from new when the owners, league, fans, players, arena employees and local barsrestaurants begin to feel the sting of the second NHL work stoppage in the last eight years.