The Bruins players knew this day was inevitable, and its showed with nine members of the team looking for opportunities to play in Europe.
But there are also a number of Bs players still in Boston working out daily, and those still in the area were understandably disappointed and perplexed by the announcement that all regular season games through Oct. 24 had been cancelled. Six Bruins games are now off the books including the season-opener, the home-opener and back-to-back games against the hated Montreal Canadiens. Those dont figure to be the only games cancelled either, as both the NHL and NHLPA reached a rough patch and have broken off meetings in the CBA negotiations.
Theres plenty of skepticism among the players that the NHL had a lockout in mind all along, and that serious negotiations wont begin until the players have already lost 20 percent of this seasons salary due to cancelled games. It makes sense when one ponders how much money losing franchises like the Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders must be saving by missing the first few months of the season.
The question then becomes how willing do the NHL players become for an agreement when the owners have taken their pound of flesh. The NHL has wanted a 10-20 percent salary reduction in the new collective bargaining agreement, and they seem willing to get it by any means necessary.
Im disappointed that the league refuses to negotiate and would rather lock us out and try to sweat us out instead of negotiating in good faith, said Thornton to CSNNE.com. It seems like they are intent on cutting our pay whether by insisting we take their ridiculous offer or locking us out to achieve thisinstead of trying to find a reasonable agreement.
"Its very frustrating that it comes to this. Its awful to think this was the plan all along.
With the players and league owners at such odds over roughly a billion dollars in revenue over the course of any new deal, Andrew Ference thinks a schism among the 30 NHL owners is the only route to a fair solution. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is the Chairman of the Board of Governors and is said to be the driving force behind the lockout tactic being utilized. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman only needs seven other owners along with Bettman to impose a lockout, so it would need to quite an ownership revolt to impose progress.
But it would appear the NHL is direly in need of a forward-thinking owner like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was instrumental in bridging the two sides and avoiding an NFL work stoppage last season. Ference believes it will take much louder dissenting voices among NHL ownership to get something done.
The Bs defenseman will be leaving this weekend to play in the Czech League for at least the next few months, but he does so with a heavy heart.
Its disappointing because in most any other business you would continue working while negotiating a new union contract, said Ference to CSNNE.com. They were not forced to cancel games, it is voluntary by them. I remain optimistic that there are a number of owners who are just as unhappy as the players with this work stoppage and that they will be more vocal in their private talks with the league.
The damage done to the momentum that our sport has gathered over the past few years is something that we and some on the NHL side want to prevent. But seeing where their offers have come in, both in drastically eliminating dollars and players contract rights, its not surprising we are at this point right now.
So bitterness and hard feelings begin to fester between the players and the league officeownership of the NHL, and two sides remain no closer to starting their season than they did in the days following the Stanley Cup Finals in June. There have been great days for the NHL over the last eight years as revenues, ratings and popularity have all spiked, but Thursday marked the leagues crappiest day in a long, long time.