CAMBRIDGE, Mass. While its difficult to remain optimistic with regular season games cancelled and Bruins players skating elsewhere all over the planet on Thursdays cancelled NHL opening night, the Bs players left behind are doing their best.
Greg Campbell, Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille are among a small group of Bs players still skating together in Boston and waiting for the NHL lockout to finally end.
Well, most guys are skating anyway.
Me and Campbell are built like Greek gods, so we dont have to worry about playing anywhere during the lockout, said Marchand with a laugh. You do almost feel lost right now, though. Youre used to having a schedule and a routine when hockey season comes, and its been that way for me since I was 15 years old.
Its a little weird, but were trying to stay in the routine as much as possible, Marchand said.
None of the four players have plans to skate in Europe at this point in time and they still hope for the best despite the gaping chasm that remains between the NHL and NHLPA for a new collective bargaining agreement. Paille is the NHLPA player rep for the Bruins and hes stayed abreast on all the labor discussions, and stresses that its about more than the money for the players.
Theres roughly a billion dollar gap between each side after union and league officials
tabled talks on Thursday, but the Bruins indicated their fight is about whats fair, whats
important for player rights and whats best for both the current and next generation of NHL players.
We dont want to be in this situation. Obviously we would have rather been in Philly starting the NHL season, said Paille. Its disappointing because we want to play. We have to see things through the next few weeks and then go from there. Theres a much bigger picture than just the money. I know thats a big part of it, but we have a lot more to lose than that.
The fact that games have been cancelled is disappointing on both sides," said Paille. "You try to get the job done and we havent gotten it done. Im optimistic that there will be a season, but
at this point in time its impossible to say when that will happen. Its anybodys guess. Hopefully we get something done sooner rather than later.
Campbell is equally optimistic there will eventually be a hockey season whether it starts in November or December, but had a difficult time zeroing in on what it will take for a deal to finally get done.
Its a combination of emotions. Its uncharted waters for me like it is for most other guys, said Campbell. You can think about it all you want, but it doesnt prepare you for once the season starts getting cancelled. Every year we show up to camp and get ready for the season, so the biggest challenge for players is to stay positive, stay focused and staying prepared as a professional whether the season starts soon or not-so-soon.
Theres no alternative rather than to stay optimistic. Weve put all of our trust as players
into NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and Steve Fehr. Thats what theyre good at: making deals and making fair deals. They want to make a deal that benefits the players as well as the league and the fans. Its hard to read into whats written about the negotiations on a daily basis, so you just stay as informed as you can through the NHLPA contacts.
Lockout solutions and pathways to a middle ground are for union executives and league czars that are in the middle of their busy season rather than the players. You can bet on which one is more exciting to the disappointed, frustrated NHL fans now missing out on games, but the Bruins are doing their best to retain happy thoughts as regular season games begin getting deleted like worthless pieces of spam email.