The threat of a lockout looms during this summer, but the general feeling is that – for better or worse – the players are as united as they’ve ever been. Perhaps that can be best seen in the attendance for the upcoming NHLPA meetings; Adam Jahns reports that big names such as Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews and Shane Doan will be involved.
Here’s some of what Ovechkin had to say, via Stephen Whyno:
“It’s our future. It’s important to us and for everybody,” Ovechkin said. “Everybody has to be on the same page. Of course, it’s going to be hard, but hopefully it’s going to be done …”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re the biggest star or just a star. I think everybody has to be involved. It’s our lives.”
“We just want to see things come together for both sides and be sure both sides are respected and feel they’ve been treated fairly,” Toews said. “I mean when it comes down to it, everyone wants to play hockey. We all want to play hockey and the fans want to see hockey.”
Brian Campbell expressed a reality that goes beyond the fans: no hockey hurts the players and owners in a serious way as well.
“I think for the owner’s sake we can’t afford (a work stoppage) and for the player’s sake we can’t afford to not be playing,” Campbell said. “We have a good product going right now. You don’t want to ruin that.”
Campbell and Doan have more first-hand experience with the last lockout for obvious reasons: Toews and Ovechkin hadn’t played NHL games yet. For that reason, Doan was able to shed some light on how the upcoming talks could be different.
“The negotiation last time was more to do with the concepts … this is probably more about numbers,” Doan said. “We don’t want to give up too much and they want to get as much as they can. We want to get as much as we can. That’s the whole thing.”
Despite a more proactive vibe, Doan’s probably correct in guessing that things will pick up more as the urgency increases.
“When will it affect people most? That’s really the drop-dead date,” Doan said. “Whenever the most pressure’s applied is when anything gets done.”
Gulp. Hopefully that doesn’t mean the NHL faces an NBA-style opening day around Christmas time … or worse.