During the 2004-05 lockout, 10-time Stanley Cup winner and Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau made headlines by asserting that the players were “completely wrong” and making a “terrible mistake.”
After a mere seven seasons of hockey, the players and owners are warring again, but this time Beliveau hasn’t taken a side.
Still, he thinks there’s some major differences between how players act today and what they were like when he was dominating the league in the 50s and 60s, based on a Montreal Gazette report.
“Maybe we could have used agents in our time, but we played because we loved the game, for the friendship among ourselves in the room and on the road,” Beliveau said.
“The situation was a lot different in my day, but I was very happy when the owners were making money. That was the best security for our paychecks.”
Beliveau remembers making five to six times what his father was and he felt what he was “getting out of hockey was big.” Today, a players of his caliber can easily earn millions per season.
“But we loved the game. We were passionate about it. That passion and wearing the Canadiens uniform were the most important things, which is not the case today. If the sweater doesn’t fit here, another one might fit somewhere else. I can’t blame the players, trying to get as much as they can, but…”
Beliveau chose not to finish that sentence.
He still believes the NHL season will be saved, but he also didn’t think it would last this long.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Beliveau said of the lockout.