The NHL lockout is now in its 69th day. Hasn’t the time just flown by? As this wonderful experience drags on (and on), fans are beginning to lose patience with the entire process. For every negotiating session that comes and goes with no deal in sight it gets harder and harder to care. It’s just soul sucking at this point, it’s almost like the NHL and NHLPA are just screwing with us. “Hey, here’s some optimism. Sike! Haha, deal with it, sucker.” It’s starting to feel almost rote.
Apparently, there are some NHL players that have become disenchanted with this wonderful experience. Namely one Roman Hamrlik who has found himself to be quite the trending topic. Hamrlik gave an interview with a Czech newspaper on Wednesday, and thanks to Greg Wyshynski we didn’t have to translate it for ourselves, in which he said that he was “disgusted” with the state of the lockout and that:
“There should be voting between players. Four questions – YES or NO – then count it. If half of players say let’s play, then they should sign new CBA. If there is no season he should leave and we will find someone new. Time is our enemy.”
Huh. Those sure are words and, frankly, I think it’s about time that a player took a hard line at these so-called negotiations and called a spade a spade. It at least gives credence to the notion that there are certain players that are just as fed up with the whole situation as we are and just want to get on the ice and play. Or want to collect a paycheck. Either/or, really.
Then this happened.
According to Czech media reports, Michal Neuvirth says he agrees with Roman Hamrlik’s stance on the lockout.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 22, 2012
So the NHL players are off the rails and Gary Bettman is currently stroking a white cat somewhere while smiling. Or not so much, apparently.
Hamrlik and Neuvirth’s teammate (and alternate NHLPA rep) Troy Brouwer is none too pleased with his outspoken friends. Brouwer told the Washington Post:
“Those are two guys that have never been on a conference call, never been to a meeting, never paid attention. People are going to have their own opinions but when you’re fighting for something with 700 other guys, all you’re doing is just making it harder to make a deal and making it harder to accomplish the things we’re fighting for.
For me, I think those guys selling us out, being selfish like that and making those comments … Me being on their team, how am I going to trust them as a teammate from now on? Because you know they’re not going to support players in the big scheme of things when you go and you play on the team with them; it’s going to be tough to want to back those guys from now on.”
I don’t claim to know what the prevailing attitudes towards Hamrlik are in the NHLPA offices but, if Brouwer’s opinions are any indication, breaking line from Fehr and his lackeys is not exactly encouraged amongst the players. We’ve theorized in this space about the players being a united front behind Fehr and I know that Bourne has made mention of the fact that hockey players have a team mentality when it comes to these things and aren’t looking to be seen to be out of step with those who are leading the charge. Brouwer’s especially harsh words seem to speak to that which, I guess, is both a good and bad thing for the NHL.
It’s a positive because a united front from the players helps their case in getting the best deal possible and not just caving to the NHL’s bullshit. The negative comes from the fact that a lack of pressure from players to just shut up and play means that this thing could drag on even longer as there is no internal pressure to do whatever it takes to make a deal, at least publicly. And, I mean, no offence to Roman Hamrlik but he’s still Roman Hamrlik. If Crosby came out with a statement like this, maybe the lockout would be over sooner rather than later. Someone of Hamrlik’s stature just isn’t going to change anything (sadly).
I’m honestly surprised it’s taken this long for a player to speak out so blatantly against the lockout continuing. I would have thought that, by now, there would be a large, vocal segment of players who are just as tired of this whole process as we are and would be making that clear. It really wouldn’t shock me if there is a whole group of players that agree with Hamrlik but just haven’t made that known in the press. Regardless, the unified front of the players is just another reason why this whole thing is going to get worse before it gets better (or it’s just going to stay awful) and there’s absolutely nothing anyone, Roman Hamrlik or otherwise, can do about it.