Saturday, January 15, 2005
Updated: January 17, 5:50 PM ET
Union head tells players to look for new jobs
ESPN.com news services
NHL players have been told not to expect the league to resume play this season, and possibly next season, according to a report in the Ottawa Sun.
Sources told the paper Friday that NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow told players they not only should accept any current job offers in Europe immediately, they should take offers for next season, as well. The message was delivered via an audio recording posted on the union's private Web site, which only members can access.
"I don't think we'll be playing," Eric Lindros told the Sun. "There's no communication ... I don't think we'll be playing this season at all.
"The bottom line for both sides is nobody should be worrying about public perception right now or who is right and who is wrong in all of this," he continued. "They should be putting their energy into trying to get a deal done. It's not going to matter who is winning the battle for public opinion if we don't get a deal done."
A source told the Sun that the NHL will make an offer next week, but no one is optimistic.
"I just don't think there's much reason for optimism with nothing happening right now," Lindros told the paper. "We offered them the 24 percent [salary] rollback and I thought that was a very good offer. They didn't want it. We know that hockey is going to be back. But I can't tell you when and in what form."
Kay Whitmore, a former NHL goalie, said players were galvanized by the league's rejection of the salary cut, but he wondered if the union can withstand a two-year work stoppage.
"The only way someone is going to win is if both sides find a compromise, sit down right now and get a deal done," Whitmore told the Sun. "If that happens, then maybe both sides would truly be happy with what's happened. But the players' chances of winning don't improve the longer this goes. The deadline for the players to get their best deal is right now. I'm sure if this year is lost, it will be a bit of a shock."
Kirk Muller, a 19-year NHL veteran, said the sides won't be able to reach an agreement until they can trust each other.
"I'd be very surprised if there is any hockey this year," he said.