Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Couture: Back-and-forth rips your heart out
By Pierre LeBrun
Like any hockey fan, Logan Couture was glued to the tube on Thursday watching the theatrics and dueling news conferences between the NHL and the players' association, his emotions thrown for a loop when he first thought a deal was possible, only to see talks blow up by the end of the day.
"It was tough to watch it unfold," Couture told ESPN.com Monday night. "I was watching it all on TSN like I’m sure a lot of people were. You’re so happy at one point, but two minutes later it feels like your heart is ripped out of you."
Couture, who returned home to London, Ontario, from playing in Switzerland the day before the theatrics, like the other players, was told things were close from NHLPA executive director Don Fehr in his Thursday evening news conference, but then got a different version on TV from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
"It’s definitely tough," said the San Jose Sharks center. "We hear stuff from guys in the meetings and from Don. There was a real belief from our guys that a deal was close and that it would happen last week."
Talks are to resume Wednesday between the league and players’ union, potentially the final push before this deal is finally done. The alternative -- no NHL season -- is a mind-boggling possibility for the 23-year-old Couture, who played in his first NHL All-Star Game last season.
"From what we’ve heard, our view I think as a union is that we’re close to getting a deal done," Couture said. "It’s tough to hear [the NHL's] view on it, but hopefully they change their mind over the next little while before it’s too late. Because the game has made some great strides over the last few years, especially in some U.S. cities. It would be tough to miss an entire year."
If the puck drops on a shortened NHL season, Couture feels he’s in good game shape and ready to roll. He put up 23 points (7 goals, 16 assists) and a plus-10 with Geneva but decided he had enough, playing his last game Nov. 30 and deciding to come home to spend some time with family and wait out the start of the NHL season.
"I went over there to get into shape and it got to the point where I figured I was," said the two-time 30-goal NHL scorer. "I felt good over there. Obviously, it’s much different than the NHL, but there’s still some pretty good players playing in that league over there. It’s a good league. I felt ready for this season to start over here."
Now he needs to find a good option to skate while he waits out an NHL labor resolution.
"I really don’t have a plan to skate yet, probably going to try and catch on with the [Ontario Hockey League’s] London Knights here and skate with them," said Couture.
Meanwhile, Couture hasn’t been shy during the lockout to voice his opinion via Twitter on the lockout. He’s proud of the fact the players have stuck together during this long process, crediting Fehr early on for setting the tempo with the membership.
"And another reason I think the players have stuck together is because a lot of different guys have sat in on the meetings with the NHL," said Couture. "When you sit in on one of those, and you listen to what we have to say and they have to say, it’s frustrating."
Well, Couture certainly has the worst possible experience of that, witnessing firsthand the NHL’s first shot across the bow in July, an offer that asked players to go down from 57 percent of hockey-related revenue to 43 percent.
"Yeah, I was there for the July 13 proposal the NHL gave us," said Couture. "That really rubbed me the wrong way the way they approached that.
"We’ve done some giving back, which was needed because some teams are in financial trouble, but they also have to give us some incentive as well, I feel. We’re all just hoping a deal gets done soon."
Don’t we all.