Canucks last holdouts to Europe during lockout
Despite pessimism from talks, Vancouver players hanging out in Vancouver, for now
None of the locked out members of the Vancouver Canucks figure to be mistaken for Clark Griswold.
They just don’t seem anxious to take a European vacation.
The Canucks are the only NHL team without a regular roster member playing in Europe and despite Tuesday’s gloomy news out of New York, none seem in a rush to head overseas.
“We’re all thinking about it,” defenceman Kevin Bieksa said after skating Tuesday at UBC. “We don’t want to miss a whole season and you want to stay as sharp as you can for when the season starts, but everyone has probably had a couple of deals or offers by now and you just keep it on the back-burner and see what happens.”
Bieksa confirmed he has had more than a couple of European offers.
“I’ve had a few,” he said. “But my mind hasn’t changed. I’m thinking wait until December and see what happens.”
No one could put their finger on why the Canucks as a group have been reluctant to head to Europe.
“I don’t know,” said defenceman Dan Hamhuis. “Everybody is different. There’s a lot of guys with young kids on our team and so I think that affects it quite a bit.”
“I don’t know the reason,” said Bieksa. “We are far away from Europe, maybe that plays into it partially. It’s a huge commitment if we want to go to Europe. It’s a long flight to get back here if there is a season. I think most of us are hopeful we are going to get a deal done in the next month or two and if the season was to be cancelled I think that’s when we’d seriously consider going over. But until then I don’t think we’re going to budge.
“We have families, kids in school, you don’t really want to uproot them unless you have a long-term commitment. That’s another reason why most of us are staying here.”
Tuesday’s quick suspension of talks in New York really didn’t surprise the players, who are beginning to realize now it is unlikely this dispute is going to end soon.
“I think we’d all want to be playing right now rather than December, but it may come to that or worse,” said goalie Cory Schneider. “But again, we’re all trying to be optimistic we will be playing in two weeks, but who knows what the chances of that happening are.”
Probably close to slim and none, if you listened closely to the comments made by NHLPA boss Donald Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
“Today was not overly encouraging, that’s for sure,” Daly said after Tuesday’s brief meeting in New York.
Fehr seemed frustrated by what he characterized as the league’s unwillingness to negotiate.
“Progress is giving them what they want,” Fehr said. “It’s not finding a way to come to a mutually acceptable understanding.”
Hamhuis acknowledged he is feeling frustrated by the lack of progress, but points the blame squarely at the league. He said the players were angered by the NHL’s dismissal of the NHLPA’s initial proposal, which included a smaller percentage of revenues for players and an expanded revenue-sharing program to help struggling teams.
“It just seems like the way the NHL has portrayed our proposal it doesn’t sound like they understand it or what we are offering,” Hamhuis said. “They make it sound like we’re not moving off any of our proposals and we haven’t offered anything significant when if you really look at our numbers I think it’s a fantastic proposal to get the league back on track.
“They want money back and that’s what we are giving them and they are trying to say the league is not going to grow any more over the next three years when every year, including recession years, it has grown. So it seems like they are making numbers up and making our proposal look bad in the media. It’s frustrating that they seem to be taking that approach.”
The NHL’s claim, via Daly on Tuesday, that the league lost $100 million in revenues due to the cancelled pre-season schedule got little sympathy from the players.
“That’s their choice,” Schneider said. “They are locking us out so they cost themselves $100 million. That’s not our issue. We’d be playing right now if it were up to us. If they want to lock us out any losses they incur I think are on them. Were not striking, we’re not the ones sitting out costing them money.”
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