The lockout has been acrimonious at times, but not enough for New York Islanders forward Matt Martin to have beef with team owner Charles Wang or GM Garth Snow.
“I can’t speak for all my teammates, but I don’t think there’s any ill will toward Charles or Garth [Snow, the Islanders’ GM],” Martin told Newsday. “There could be some guys around the league who’ll feel differently, I would imagine, given the negotiations and the contracts that were signed.
“But I think our guys know this is a business, and when it’s time, our job is to play hockey. That’s what we want to do.”
This isn’t a revolutionary statement, since Snow gave Martin a four-year, $4 million extension and Wang will be the one signing checks.
(Y’know, don’t bite the hand that feeds.)
But it is interesting in a historical context, as players have been outspoken in their critiques of owners throughout the lockout.
One example was Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter who, in late October, accused owners — including the Wild’s Craig Leipold — of “trying to go back on their word.”
“It’s disappointing. If you can’t afford to [sign contracts] then you shouldn’t do it,” Suter said. “[Leipold] signed us to contracts. At the time he said everything was fine. Yeah, it’s disappointing. A couple months before, everything is fine, and now they want to take money out of our contracts that we already signed.”
Suter quickly softened his stance after some backlash, explaining “I don’t question Craig Leipold and Minnesota with regards to negotiating our contracts in good faith.”
Another example was San Jose forward Logan Couture, who blasted “hard-line” owners like Leipold, Boston’s Jeremy Jacobs and Calgary’s Murray Edwards for their negotiating tactics — yet didn’t go after the Sharks ownership group.
“They don’t give you the time of day, and they barely even look at you,” Couture said of the aforementioned ownership trio. “They’re there for one reason, and that’s to help their teams make money. I wish we could hear from all 30 teams’ owners, but obviously they’re not letting them speak out and have their opinions known.”
Couture said he didn’t know where San Jose owners stood on things, and couldn’t “hold judgment against them” until he knew the truth.
So, the end result for players seems to be this: Bash owners that aren’t yours, stay mum on the guy that pays you.