Bryan Little is soaked in sweat, his body drenched from a 75-minute workout with fellow Winnipeg Jets and other National Hockey Leaguers Monday morning at MTS Iceplex.
And his day at the rink isn’t done, as he was just about to head upstairs to the gym to put even more work to get ready for the NHL season when he was intercepted by a handful of local media.
The on-ice stuff and off-ice training is essentially the extent of what Little and his compadres can control and know right now. When they’ll actually be playing meaningful games – and whether he’ll be locked out by Saturday night at the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement – depends on whether the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association can come together to hammer out a new deal. The two sides are scheduled to meet again this week in New York.
"As a player there’s not much to do… we trust (NHLPA executive director) Donald Fehr to do his part and negotiate for us," began Little Monday. "But at the same time we have to prepare and be ready for anything.
"The 15th is a day that everyone is paying attention to and whether it gets worked out, we don’t know, but we’ll wait till then and go from there."
Many NHL players are planning to attending the next round of talks in New York, Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd included. Little, on the other hand, feels he needs more time on ice to be ready when the season starts and will likely remain in Winnipeg Asked if he had a Plan B – where he might play if he is locked out for an extended period – Little added:
"Not really. Basically (the 15th) is marked on the calendar and I’ll just train up until then and see what happens and go from there."Honestly, I haven’t been paying too much attention to what everyone’s been saying. I’ve just been kind of following it and checking up on the e-mails. I’m sure a lot of guys don’t know what’s going to happen or when the season is going to start. All we can do is keep in shape and be ready at any time."
The collection of Jets at the Iceplex on Monday included, among others, Little and Ladd, Mark Stuart, Olli Jokinen, Alex Ponikarovsky, Toby Enstrom, Derek Meech, Jason Gregoire, Kevin Clark, Ivan Telegin and Winnipeggers in the NHL like Travis Zajac of New Jersey, Ryan Reaves of St. Louis and Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders.