Vancouver Canucks at team practice at UBC Tuesday, September 11, 2012. Pictured is Daniel (left) and Henrik Sedin.
Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG
VANCOUVER - At the end of the last lockout, the National Hockey League marked the start of its bold new era with a redesigned logo.
The league’s acronym reversed direction, tilting upwards across a shield trimmed in silver to reflect a more positive energy and trajectory. Who knew Gary Bettman believed in feng shui?
Whenever this lockout ends, the logo will require a more radical renovation.
The league’s new symbol should be an asterisk. While Bettman may or may not torch another season, he has already ruined NHL history books with his third lockout in 18 years and second major work stoppage in eight years.
With nearly two years of hockey missing — 34 games per team flushed in 1994-95, 82 games a decade later and about 32 games so far this “season” and counting — statistics have been skewed downward for a generation of players. It’s not only money the players will never get back.
Teemu Selanne, 42, and Jaromir Jagr, 40, will finish in the Hockey Hall of Fame even if the current lockout finishes their careers. But give each another 150 games, and they’d be mentioned in conversations about the greatest players ever.
The Anaheim Ducks’ Selanne has 663 goals through last season. Give him back the lost years and, even accounting for his mid-career injury crisis around the last lockout, the Finn is well over 700 goals and chasing Brett Hull (741) for third all-time behind two fellows named Gretzky and Howe.
Add 150 games to the career of the Dallas Stars’ Jagr, one of the most prolific scorers in NHL history with 1,653 points in 1,346 games, and the Czech is chasing Mark Messier’s 1,887 points for second all-time behind Gretzky.
Like we said, they’re going to the Hall of Fame regardless.
But what about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Martin St. Louis or Dallas’s Ray Whitney?
Ray Whitney, you scoff?
Whitney has 1,003 points in 1,229 games, great numbers for a chronically under-rated player. Now add 120 points and he’s a HHoF candidate. St. Louis has 852 points in 931 games.
The numbers of New Jersey Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur, already the career leader in wins and shutouts, would be unreachable for anyone in this lifetime had he played the equivalent of another two seasons.
“For some guys, it will make the difference between playing 1,000 games or not,” Vancouver Canuck defenceman Dan Hamhuis said after a lockout skate Tuesday at the University of B.C. “If you’re missing nearly two seasons, 160 games, for the top guys that could be 200 points. That’s a lot. It takes away a chunk out of games played, points, minutes, all that stuff. And financially, too.”
Hamhuis’s teammates, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, are second and fourth in franchise scoring with 747 and 718 points, respectively. They are at the peak of their ability and in the second lockout of their careers.
They’ve been point-a-game players since 2004. Add, say, 100 points to their scoring totals and they’re runaway career leaders for the Canucks although, to be fair, current leader Markus Naslund (756 points) also missed what should have been one of his best seasons when Bettman cancelled the 2004-05 campaign.
“If the Sedins were born in Canada, they’d be regarded here in a manner similar to Joe Sakic,” Canuck assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said of the 32-year-old Swedes. “I don’t think even now they get the respect they deserve in this league. They’re far tougher than people give them credit for. They play every night, take punishment every night, and put up points year after year after year.”
Henrik Sedin has played 581 consecutive regular-season games. Without the lockouts, his ironman streak could be approaching 700.
“There’s a lot of guys in the same situation; it’s not only us,” he said of losing a chunk of his career to labour disputes. “There are guys who have been part of three lockouts. It’s nothing you think about when you come to the National Hockey League. You think you’re coming to play hockey, but the business part comes in.”
“It’s one-seventh of my career,” Daniel Sedin said. “That is a lot of hockey. It’s a lot of games missed. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is. There are guys that have missed three years, too. It’s not that bad for Henrik and me.
“I’m more disappointed than angry. We knew this (lockout) could happen again, but it’s unfortunate that it has come to this point where there’s a half-season gone. Last time, the owners were so happy and said: ‘We fixed the problem.’ Since then, every year the league seemed to be better and better (financially), but here we are again. That’s the frustrating part.”
Typically, the Sedins aren’t worried about their statistics or lost salary – $6.1 million US apiece if this season gets scrubbed entirely. But they’re concerned about their team, which went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final two years ago, won a second straight Presidents’ Trophy last season and were poised again to challenge for a championship.
“We’re not getting younger and we’re all in our prime, pretty much,” Henrik said. “To miss a year now, that’s not good for us.”
Or anyone else. But here we are again.
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