Everyone has a limit.
In terms of free time, it was telling that Kenora's Mike Richards appeared at the MTS Iceplex Monday to skate with several Winnipeg Jets and other locally connected NHLers who have now been locked out through the first weekend of the regular season.
"You find things to fill your time," Richards said, pointing to his love of fishing and some hunting with friends. "I've been trying to enjoy fall back home, stay in shape at the gym. That's been about it and I've started to look for things to do now.
"I felt like I should come up and get a good skate in."
Richards said there's been much to enjoy after the celebrations of his first Stanley Cup win with the Los Angeles Kings in June. And, at 27, he hasn't spent a fall in his hometown since he was 15.
Richards said he will skate here and there with Kenora's midget team, but that he felt like the two-hour drive to Winnipeg "twice a week" would be well worth it.
"I'll try to stay as game-ready as possible," he said.
With the NHL lockout now a month old, that will be a growing concern for those who haven't found somewhere else to play.
"I think everybody wants to get this sorted out," Richards said with an eye towards the ongoing negotiations. "I think all of the players are wanting to end this but at the same time, we want a fair deal and we have full confidence in Don (Fehr, NHLPA executive director) to get things done.
"When we get the right kind of steps put in place, I think we'll be back and ready to go. At the same time, obviously every player wants to play. It's what we do and you miss (being) competitive. It's unfortunate that business has to get in the way sometimes but I guess that's the world we live in right now."
Richards said that missed regular-season games and now missed salary for the players -- even with the impending return of 2011-12 escrow holdbacks due within days -- ought to increase urgency for a solution.
"Well, I hope so," Richards said. "It's not just the NHL and the players who are losing money right now. It's everybody. That's the unfortunate part of the world that we live in right now in sports, that this has to get in the way."
The former first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers is like many players in that he worries about the entire season being in peril.
"I think it's always concerning," he said. "As a player, you want to be on the ice and playing, especially with the season we had last year and everyone was excited.
"I think it was last week we were supposed to get the banner up in L.A. You're missing these things. You're not overly happy, but as I said, we have full confidence in Don to get things done, something right and fair for both sides.
"(Our fans), they're passionate enough that I think they'll stay behind us."
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