Boo! Boooo!! BOOOO!!!

November 02 2004 20:07 (+ 11 - 7 )

No, this isn't a late topic on Halloween. Those would be words out of my mouth. I would be saying them to a very specific group of people. Hockey players. Not just any hockey players, either. NHL hockey players. Not just any NHL hockey players, either. The upper echelon of NHL hockey players. And this if I could get to and attend a game, assuming the season starts up.

I wrote something in this regard about a month ago. I missed hockey then, and I still miss it. I'm beginning to think, given the attitude and actions of some of these upper echelon players, I'll be missing it for a long time. Why?

They're playing in Europe! You know, that's great and all, but to me that says there are two things going on.

First, many of these guys are playing for less money than I make. That's pretty pitiful since I'm not in the greatest paying job in the world (no one becomes a pastor for the pay). All of them are playing for a lot less money than they would be making if there were a season this year, even with a salary cap, though there is a report of one guy getting paid something in the millions, but it hasn't been confirmed yet. What does this tell me? They're not concerned about a salary cap. They're just doing this to prove a point--how stubborn they can be--and lock us fans out of the game we love (despite what you'll read at ESPN, the players aren't locked out, the fans are).

Second, since they're playing now and oversees, their minds aren't on what's going on here. They could probably care less about the NHL at this point. They're playing. They're having fun. They're enjoying themselves. They're completely removed from the labor dispute. Thanks guys, I feel the love! The fact alone leads me to believe there will be no NHL hockey this year.

I still don't want to play the blaming game. I still don't want to point fingers. The NHL and team owners aren't completely blamesless, either. It's just that the longer the fans are locked out, the worse it will be on the entire league, owners AND players.

So I thank the role players who are left on this side of the Atlantic with no job. You know the type. The bruiser the coach calls on when a "statement" needs to be made. The defender who is willing to take a puck in the gut to keep his team in the game. The guy who makes the league minimum. The guy who receives no glory, but plays mostly for the love of the game. So I thank players like Rob Ray and Pierre Dagenais who have come out and said that they would be willing to play with a salary cap if that's what it takes to put the game back on the ice. These are the men I will cheer for from now on.

Did you hear that Peter Forsberg? What about you Ilya Kovalchuk? To you and all the NHLers playing in Europe: "Boooo!" You'll receive little thanks from me for playing the game. My heart and thanks go to the guys like Ray and Dagenais; they are the real heart and soul of hockey, not the star-struck types who score all the goals. Boo! Boooo!! BOOOO!!!

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