WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins win as a team. They lose as a team.
They also show their player solidarity as a team.
The entire contingent of Bruins players minus their erstwhile goaltender holed up in his Colorado compound hopped on a train Wednesday morning bound for the NHLNHLPA negotiations in New York City.
Their train trip came immediately after the bulk of Bs players skated for 60 minutes at Ristuccia Arena at a captains practice led by Zdeno Chara. Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and Edmonton Oilers defensemen Ryan Whitney along with former UMass hockey player Alex Berry were skating along with the host of Bruins players including
Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Chara, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin, Johnny Boychuk, Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Chris Bourque, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid and Rich Peverley.
As many as 300 players are expected to head into NYC for the NHLPANHL talks over the next two days with a possible lockout beginning at midnight on Sept. 15 if a deal isnt reached between the two sides. The Bruins players know that a show of solidarity is important, and Ference later tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that all members of the Black and Gold roster were headed to the Big Apple for the CBA showdown.
Its good that a lot of guys are going to find out where were at as a union. Were going to have some long meetings tonight and tomorrow morning, and were going to get more clarity of what to expect over the next few weeks, said Milan Lucic. With all of the players
showing up, it shows that were against the lockout and we want this game to grow and continue.
Its no secret that the game has grown tremendously over the last few years and its headed in a really good direction. Don Fehr is very black and white with us, so we know exactly whats going on. The large attendance in New York City really shows our solidarity.
The NHL has scheduled a Thursday afternoon press conference with the expected likelihood that theyll announce a lockout, and thats something the Bruins players are bracing for despite being hopeful headed into the informational meetings. Gregory Campbell said he
expects progress once the NHL announces a lockout of the players, but theres also the inevitably there will be some kind of lockout.
The biggest thing for us is how to prepare as players for a lockout. Do you go home? Do you stay in your NHL city if youre a guy with kids and a family? said Campbell. Im trying to take an optimistic approach. The lockout deadline almost seems inevitable
from everything that Ive heard about the talks. Thats the owners plan. Theres nothing written in stone and even if we are officially locked out on the 15th Im still optimistic that as soon as the deadline comes there will be progress.
Once the deadline hits its for real and the season wont start until it gets sorted out. Hopefully thats a time when people really get serious and try to work something out here. I dont think the game is in that bad of a shape. Its certainly a lot better than it was when I
came into the NHL.
There is still a glimmer of hope that the NHL and NHLPA can overcome their hurdles and find some common ground over the next two days, but it wont be easy. The NHL has to back off the rollback of salaries and the promises of salary escrow that the players bitterly accepted
during the last CBA negotiations, and the players will have to give back generously from the 57 percent share of the Hockey Related Revenue theyve earned over the last six seasons.
Perhaps Fehr and Gary Bettman will meet face-to-face and hammer out their disagreements with the Sept. 15 lockout date looming, and end the battle over NHL profit margins appearing to drive the fundamental disagreement.
Whatever happens the Bruins players are once again showing theyre in harmony as a hockey club with the battle having been transferred from the ice to the board room this week in New York City.