Tampa Bay Lightning D Marc-Andre Bergeron: "We're standing behind our union right now"
Between 250 and 300 NHL players are expected to attend union meetings Wednesday and Thursday in New York ahead of what is predicted will be a league-imposed lockout on Sunday. The owners are meeting in New York on Thursday.
As of Tuesday, six Lightning players were expected to attend: forwards Adam Hall and Nate Thompson, goaltender Mathieu Garon and defensemen Matt Carle, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Brian Lee.
"It's all about getting as much information as you can to stay involved," Carle said. "I wasn't around for the last lockout (that wiped out the 2004-05 season), but from the stories you hear, everybody is on the same page, so to have that many guys be committed to go is going to speak volumes."
"It's a big gesture from us," Bergeron said. "It shows that we're standing behind our union right now."
The lockout officially will begin at midnight Sunday. Players will not be able to use team facilities, though Lightning players can still rent the Ice Sports Forum rink for workouts. Most players said they will be sticking around the Tampa Bay area. many said they will look into playing in Europe.
Wing Marty St. Louis said he is having "ongoing" talks with European teams. Center Steven Stamkos said his talks have been "preliminary." Left wing Ryan Malone, right wing Teddy Purcell, defensemen Sami Salo and Victor Hedman and goaltender Anders Lindback also said they will look to play in Europe if the lockout drags on.
"You're always optimistic, but at the same token, the players just aren't going to roll over," said Hall, the team's union representative. "The last deal, we gave a lot of concessions and it was meant to fix and address problems the owners claimed were broken in the system. So, this was, in effect, their deal, and seven years later after all these revenues they're claiming the system is broken again because their plan that they claimed to work, didn't work."
"It just seems like every time there's a problem they come to the union and ask players to give concessions," Hall added.