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Sunday, October 31, 2004
Updated: November 1, 12:28 PM ET
Ray: Players should tell Goodenow to start bargaining

Associated Press

OTTAWA -- Rob Ray is willing to get back on the ice if the NHL uses replacements during its labor war with the players association.

The Senators enforcer told the Ottawa Sun that he would need some time to get back into shape because he wouldn't be the first one to agree to break ranks with the union.

"I'd cross the line in a second," the 15-year veteran said. "Why wouldn't I? I know about 10 guys who would be ahead of me and these guys are 10 current NHL players.

"Everybody just wants to get back to playing," he said.

Ray doesn't support a salary cap to settle the current lockout, but he said he'd like more players to step up and challenge NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow to go back to the bargaining table with commissioner Gary Bettman.

"The thing people have to realize is the people in the players association office are going to be there a long time after these players are gone," Ray said. "The players who are in the league now only have a short window of opportunity to make their money, and by not playing they're losing a lot."

Ray said it's the little guy -- the third- and fourth-line forwards and fifth and sixth defensemen -- who are paying the biggest price in this lockout.

"I went through this whole thing in 1994 when I was making $300,000," he said of the lockout a decade ago. "They got a deal done and I thought I was going to cash in big time. Well, I went from making $300,000 to $350,000. Big deal.

"They said in the last lockout that a bunch of guys never played again and lost their jobs. Well, I would be willing to bet if this thing goes the whole year, then it's going to be double that number," he said.

Ray doesn't believe the players should give in, either.

"There has to be some kind of ceiling, but I don't think that has to be a salary cap," he said. "Why can't the owners talk about revenue sharing? You never hear them mention that. There are things that can be done, but the two sides have to negotiate. Not talking doesn't help anyone."

No new negotiations are planned, and games scheduled in December are already being canceled.

The player representatives from each of the 30 NHL teams will convene in Toronto on Tuesday to get an update from union leadership on the lockout, which has already lasted six weeks.

"The players have to realize they have to ask questions because Bob Goodenow works for them," Ray said. "Bob has done a great job for the union and he deserves credit for what he's gotten those players. (But) those players can't be afraid to ask the tough questions."