The National Hockey League lockout has reached Day 2 with more players heading to Europe to find new teams and with those staying behind becoming more and more frustrated with the lack of any positive news on the horizon.
And once again, a collection of Winnipeg Jets and other local pros gathered at MTS Iceplex Monday morning, but the anger with being locked out for the second time in seven years is obviously becoming all-consuming.
"We’re hockey players, we want to play," said Jet centre Olli Jokinen. "But at the same time, we want to have a fair deal. This is what we do. But, obviously, with the revenues growing it’s not just about the game any more. There’s a lot of money involved. We gave everything that the owners wanted last time around and on top of that we rolled our salaries back 24 per cent.
"We want to get a fair deal, but we don’t want to get pushed around and we don’t want it to be, ‘OK, here we go again. We signed a contract but let’s cut the salaries down again.’ Basically, last time we bent over and now they want us to bend over again."
The number of pros at Iceplex had dwindled since their last skate, last Friday prior to being locked out at 11 p.m. Saturday night. Jokinen was joined by Antti Miettinen, Andrew Ladd, Alex Burmistrov, Kevin Clark, Jason Gregoire as well as Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders, Ryan Reaves of the St. Louis Blues, Jannik Hansen of the Vancouver Canucks and free agent Eric Fehr. Burmistrov, who was assigned to the St. John’s IceCaps last Friday, said the decision to go to the American Hockey League rather than the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia – there is a team in his hometown of Kazan – was a decision reached by the Jets and his camp.
"I was waiting for that, to see what they wanted me to do," said Burmistrov. "That’s the team’s choice. They decided they wanted to do that, so I have to do it. I will go there and play hockey. That’s what I have to do. It was a decision we made together so that’s fine."
Among those NHLers finding work overseas were Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils (SKA St. Petersburg of KHL), Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nikolai Kulemin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk of KHL), while Mark Streit of the New York Islanders will play for SC Bern of the Swiss League, and Christian Ehrhoff of the Buffalo Sabres has signed to play for his hometown of Krefeld in the German League. Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin is apparently negotiating with Dynamo Moscow of the KHL.