“I am disgusted. We have to push Fehr to the wall to get the deal. Time is against us. We lost 1/4 season, it is $425 million. Who will give it back to us? Mr. Fehr?
“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.”
- Roman Hamrlik, as reported on Puck Daddy.
Let’s start with an obvious point: Hamrlik isn’t wrong. Regardless of how you feel about his decision to say it- which we’ll be talking about for a thousand words after this paragraph- his position is completely valid. The players are losing money by holding out; many of them are losing the last season of their career. As many observers have noted, time is their enemy. Hamrlik, who is 38 years old and has already lost over a hundred career games to labor unrest, is a natural spokesman for that contingent of players who is losing far more in this battle than they can hope to win. He’s honestly speaking his interests, and it’s extremely likely that a substantial faction of the PA feels the same way, because Lord knows they have the same interests and not everyone is so altruistic as to sacrifice a year of professional hockey opportunity over HRR percentage points. As far as raw information goes, these comments are nothing more than the confirmation of shit we already knew.
And yet, although uncounted dozens of guys probably nodded along while reading Hamrlik’s rant, so far all of them save teammate Michal Neuvirth have swallowed their discontent and kept their mouths shut. Why? Fragmenting the PA would be the easiest way to get what they want: a deal signed and the game back on the ice. If fifty guys came out together and said, we are prepared to take whatever is on the table right now, they’d be instant heroes in the eyes of many fans and certainly in the eyes of their owners, and they’d undermine the solidarity that allows Fehr to conjure leverage out of air. If getting back on the ice is your highest priority, then it’d be supremely logical to do as Hamrlik did and let your grievances fly.
But (almost) no one does.