Player reaction to the predictable announcement that the NHL had cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season was emotional and pointed fingers at commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners.
With no end in sight to the 20-day NHL lockout, the league cancelled games from Oct. 11-24 on Thursday in a move that had been expected.
"It's another disappointing but expected move from the league," Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews told the Chicago Tribune. "This seems to be our commissioner's bread-and-butter. It's almost like he is excited to take away hockey from the fans and the players just because he can.
"Personally, I still haven't heard a valid argument from the league for what they are doing, just that they want more [money] and last time it wasn't enough. If they would be as determined to solve these issues as they are quick to point the finger at us, this would be settled by now. But they aren't, and now we know we'll miss at least two weeks because of it."
Owners have been muzzled by Bettman on collective bargaining agreement matters. They face a hefty fine if they speak out. The players, however, are free to speak their minds.
Some players have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure of the snail-like labour dispute with the league. Others have anonymously spoken to reporters and players like Toews and Washington Capitals veteran forward Jason Chimera weren't afraid to direct their anger toward Bettman.
"I think there will be a season," Chimera told csnwashington.com. "But players are pretty adamant. The players are pretty unified. I don't know if Gary thinks a lockout is another tool to help him. He's the only guy in sports who seems to like lockouts.
"It's going to have a very big impact on the game when you start losing games. At this time of year the stands are usually packed with people. That's not the case. People just aren't thinking about hockey and it hurts the game, big-time. We were just gaining popularity in the States and it's a shame to lose that over something that should be hammered out.
"It's up to the owners. They keep saying we need to come back with a proposal. It seems like we're the only ones making concessions right now."
There have been whispers that the NHLPA has been working on a new proposal. But when the players present a new tender remains to be seen.
This is the fourth labour dispute the NHL has engaged in the past 20 years and it has lost more regular season games to labour disputes than the other three major North American sports leagues combined.
Martin St. Louis, 37, of the Tampa Bay Lightning remarked that he feels cheated this time around after the players gave up so much in the 2004-05 lockout.
"For a regular guy, it's hard," St. Louis told the Tampa Bay Times. "But it's not so much about the money. It's about getting a fair deal. Last time, we got hosed. We built the game back up with how hard the guys worked. We're trying to work in [the owners'] direction. We just don't see the same coming back our way."
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