Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier trying to process possibility of another lost season
There was a time, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said, that he believed the labor strife between the players and league would be settled quickly. So, when the NHL on Thursday (the 96th day of the lockout) canceled games through Jan. 14, Lecavalier said it was a jolt, especially with the notion the season is believed one step away from being lost.
"From where we were in September, when I was all optimistic thinking this was going to be resolved quickly, to where we are now, we're all, I don't want to say shocked, but disappointed," Lecavalier said Friday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. "It's mind-boggling, I guess."
So far 625 games have been canceled, 50.8 percent of the season. The speculation is that if there is not a collective bargaining agreement so games can begin by Jan. 15 -- considering it will take about 10 days to prepare teams to play, we're talking Jan. 5 -- the season will be canceled as well just eight years after losing the 2004-05 season to another labor war.
It should be remembered, however, that the 48-game season played after the 1994-95 lockout began Jan. 20 after settlement on Jan. 11.
"People are coming up to us in the streets, they want hockey and to enjoy watching a great game," Lecavalier said. "They can't get that right now. It's disappointing for everybody."
"It's just frustrating when you think of how many people and businesses that are associated with the game," right wing Adam Hall added. "We're just hopeful something can get done as soon as possible."
Unfortunately, things seem to be going in the opposite direction.
There have not been any formal negotiations since Dec. 6 and none are planned, and the players are voting whether to give the Players' Association executive board the authority to issue a disclaimer of interest which would essentially dissolve the union, allowing players to bring an anti-trust challenge to the lockout.
The league already has filed court papers that say if the union's disclaimer is deemed valid, all player contracts be made null and void. In other words, everyone become a free agent and there is chaos.
"We're hockey players," Lecavalier said. "We want to play hockey. This is not where we want to be."