Six players affected most by lockout

Updated: January 18, 2012, 3:11 PM ET
By Craig Custance

The 2007 Hockey Hall of Fame class of Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Mark Messier and Scott Stevens will go down as one of the best classes to be inducted. And there's a reason so many great players were eligible for induction the same year: the lockout.

When the NHL took a season off while the league and NHLPA battled over a new CBA, it pushed a few players into a retirement decision.

For Stevens, the year off proved he could live a life without hockey, something he wasn't sure was possible.

"I think the game is more mental than physical. You have to be in tremendous shape, but you have to want to do it in your head," Stevens said when he retired. He wasn't mentally ready to play again after taking a year off.

MacInnis missed most of the 2003-04 season with an eye injury, so when you added the lockout into the equation it was more time off than he could overcome.

"I just felt that after not playing competitively for two years that I could not reach that level of play again," MacInnis said at the time. "It was strictly time."

When Francis was weighing retirement, the labor dispute became the "writing on the wall" that it was time to go.

With the CBA expiring after this season, there remains the possibility that we'll see another lockout next season. I remain optimistic that it won't cost us another entire year of hockey, but until the two sides sit down and start talking, nobody knows for sure.

Here are six players who could be watching negotiations this summer closer than anyone while weighing retirement: