The NHL Lockout...A Christmas Story

Editor's note: The following article was written by Tim Freitag, which we hope you enjoy. You can follow Tim on Twitter @KariTakko (and no, he's not the backup NHL goaltender). As always, First Round Bust has an open pulpit policy.


I wanted to make sure I got in another story in case the Mayans were right. With the passing of another year, and perhaps the passing of the human race, I thought it time to look at the lockout through the perspective of the Christmas season.

The Ghost of lockouts past.

From the 04-05 Lockout
Philadelphia Flyers center Jeremy Roenick has some advice for hockey fans who blame the NHL lockout on players' greed: Once it's finally settled, stay home.
"We're going to try to make it better for everybody, period, end of subject. And if you don't realize that, then don't come," said Roenick, who spoke at a charity golf event he played in over the weekend.
"We don't want you at the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey," he said Saturday at the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational in suburban Pittsburgh.”

To NBA players while remembering 04-05 Lockout
"It's not worth it. Get a deal done," former Dallas Stars forward Bill Guerin said during a phone call last week.

There was not a single NHL player during the Great Lockout of 2004-05 who was a bigger proponent of the union's fight than this man. No one believed in the cause more than Guerin, and to hear him admit this is a bit stunning.

"I learned a big lesson: It's not a partnership. It's their league, and you are going to play when they want," he said.

Today, Guerin has hindsight and his experience serves as a giant caution to any player who thinks losing a game, much less an entire season, to this lockout is a good idea. His message is simple: Get what you can; start playing; you are not going to win what you think.

"It is not worth it to any of them to burn games or to burn an entire year. Burning a year was ridiculous," Guerin said. "It wasn't worth me giving up $9 million a year, or 82 games plus the playoffs, then having a crappy year and being bought out.... Guys in the NBA making $15 million or however much better think long and hard about this."

Reminiscing about 04-05 Lockout
Former NHL star Mike Modano, who was a member of the Dallas Stars when the '04-05 season was lost, recently told ESPN's Craig Custance of the w
ork stoppage: "It was a waste of time." Modano said that he lost more than $7 million in salary.

"It's money you feel you never get back," Modano told Custance. "At some point, we were sold a bill of goods. Everybody was buying it. Everybody thought, 'Let's not let each other down. Let's do it for the future of the game. Blah, blah, blah.' You're only in the game so long."

He also added that "it's not a battle you're going to feel like you're going to win. It's a negotiation. You feel at some point that both sides will be upset about what they have to give up."

The Ghost of lockouts Present.
Roman Hamrlik on Lockout

"I am disgusted. We have to push Fehr to the wall to get the deal. Time is against us. We lost (a quarter of the) season, it is $425 million. Who will give it back to us? Mr. Fehr?" Hamrlik was quoted as saying.
"There should be voting between players. Four questions—YES or NO—then count it. If half of players say let's play, then they should sign new CBA. If there is no season he should leave and we will find someone new. Time is our enemy."

Mark Cuban on NHL lockout

"No, actually, [I don't cringe]," Cuban said. "I think they're smart. You got to fix the problem. I cringed like with what we did. But if you don't fix the problems, they escalate, so they didn't fix them the last time, and they should have. So you see where they are now.

"When you have all your southern franchises basically sucking wind, there's a message there that you have to fix it. I mean, you have two different worlds; the north and the south. It's kind of like the civil war right now going on, and it's got to be fixed. So, yeah I'd cringe more as a hockey fan. I'd cringe more if they don't fix it. Just like the last one, it's only been like seven years right? But I even wrote a blog back then that they should have fixed it, and they didn't."

Ted Lindsay on NHL lockout

In his first public statement, the legend directed players to cool down their tone when talking about National Hockey League (NHL) commissioner, Gary Bettman, who in the end, according to Lindsay, is just doing his job. Players took the wild side by terming Bettman to be an “idiot”, while one even went as far to retweet the wish for his death, something he has to apologize for later on.

“When you see Canadians start to bad-mouth their national game that tells you something is wrong,'' Lindsay said, according to “I never heard that before from any Canadians. Hockey is their game and they hate seeing what's happening to it.”

“I know many season ticket holders,'' Lindsay added. “They're getting older. They'll keep their tickets because they like the game, but when they get this aggravation from players and owners, four times in 20 years, these people have money and can afford season tickets, but they don't want the aggravation in their life.''

The Ghost of Lockouts Future

Nail Yakupov on Lockout

You know, I’m not thinking about a lockout. I’m just doing my job and just work. I just want to play, and just be ready for camp. So we’ll see what happens. For me, I just want to practise and play. It’s not my deal, and I can’t think about it like that, you know? If it happens, it happens.”

Ray Ferraro via Michael Russo on Lockout

"There are guys here that this is going to snowball on," said Ray Ferraro, who played 18 years in the NHL. "I'm talking about veterans, and I'm talking about guys that have played 45, 100 games. They're in a bad spot, and there's nothing you can do now. Now you're hanging on to the train, and you just hope you don't get bucked off and you never get to play again."

Ferraro, an analyst for the Canadian sports channel TSN, isn't exaggerating. More than 240 players who played at least a game in 2003-04 never skated another NHL shift after the 2004-05 lockout.

That group included Hall of Famers Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Adam Oates, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens and Igor Larionov, and such popular former Wild players as Darby Hendrickson, Cliff Ronning and Brad Bombardir.

"You're gone and you're forgotten and that's it," Cullen said. "It's sad, but lots of guys' careers ended with the last lockout and that'll definitely be the case this time. Guys are just going to be gone, vanished."

Former Wild winger Brian Rolston, one of 14 NHLers who have been part of three lockouts since 1994, looked as if he was given second life when he was traded from the Islanders to Boston last March.
He knows his career is likely over.

"I'm realistic. I'll be 40 years old," Rolston said. "If there's half a season, maybe somebody will be willing to sign an older player. But I'm not holding my breath. I'm content if I have to retire."

Still, Ferraro says it's a crime.

"When you walk into the dressing room and talk to Teemu Selanne, the day's a better day. Yet Teemu's not coming back if they miss a year," Ferraro said. "Daniel Alfredsson has left his guts on the ice for Ottawa for 17 years and he's going to go away?

"There's a dissatisfaction to it."

Scrooge’s Epiphany

Judging from the above comments, the consensus should be to end this lockout as soon as possible. The grandstanding is worthless and detrimental. Fans do no care who wins as long as games are played. So far, players have lost more than $500 million in salary, owners have lost more than $1 billion in revenue, and fans have lost half a season of enjoyment. This all seems like useless exercise.

It’s unfortunate that this stalemate looks to have no end. It has been written that the NHL will likely cancel more games in the next week. Having already missed out on half the season, and the winter classic it’s tough not to resent the league and players association for letting this thing get away from them.

When the games are played, I will likely watch, and I will fall in line. The same can’t be said for more casual fans. The league may have inflicted wounds on itself that will take years to heal. I asked for resolution for my birthday in September, and I’ll ask for the same thing this Christmas. I want hockey back.


  1. There are two "NBA" in there. . .

  2. What does any of this have to do with Ralphie and Farkas? Except everyone shot their eye out.