Quotes of the Week: Lockout Nastiness 2003-2005

The following lengthy quotations come largely from editorials written by the media back around the time of the last lockout, with quotations from some owners and a few former players thrown in. The players enjoyed very little support back then, and what support  they did have dwindled as time went on. Despite the age on these quotes, many if not all of them remain relevant to the current lockout.

“Ask any three Canadian hockey fans to sit down at 9 a.m. and solve the National Hockey League’s labour troubles, and they’d be done in time for lunch.”
Mark Spector

“You could ignore the perception of greed and admire the players’ solidarity, but even that’s not the case. The players’ association wants it both ways. One day its members are emphasizing the sanctity of their jobs, the next they’re stealing work from European players who need the money more. Their position has not been a unified matter of principle, but individual matters of convenience.”
Bucky Gleason

“A good, long hiatus — uninterrupted by distractions such as fan adulation — is exactly what the doctor ordered for this sick, sick league. The greatest fear any of us should have is that they will come back before the job is done, with a half-baked solution full of loopholes that will have been turned inside out before you can say Martin Lapointe by agents doing exactly what they are paid to do.”
Cam Cole

“[Bob] Goodenow appears more than willing to pull the NHL down around his ears. Until and unless he begins to hint that the owners and players might find some middle ground, the league remains in apocalypse mode. “
Jack Todd

“Some of us would be more sympathetic [towards the players] if only we could be paid much more than the market determines to be our value.”
Randy Horick

“We can’t continue to operate like this. No good businessman can do that. If you came to me tomorrow and told me that this is the system we’re going to continue to have to operate in for the next 10 years, then as it relates to the L.A. Kings, we would sell. We would get out of the business.”
Los Angeles Owner Tim Lieweke

“Nothing in the collective bargaining agreement says a franchise has to charter a customized plane with enough leg room for a team of giraffes.”
Bob DiCesare

“I suppose if Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers had the means to pack up and move to Bordeaux, France, to pick grapes, they might have done so. But there’s something about one-third of your work force touring Switzerland, Italy and assorted sidewalk cafes that screams, “Wake me when it’s over.” At least NFL players carried picket signs.”
Jeff Schultz

“I played 10 years in the National Hockey League and I’ll admit to the fact that during one’s professional hockey career you lose touch with reality, not only because of the money that you’re making compared to what you would be making if you weren’t a professional hockey player, but also because of the adulation that you receive.”
Mike Bossy

“Based on every conversation I have had with any NHL player on the labor issue in the past year I can tell you very bluntly that they just are not that passionate on the issue. Yes, they can manufacture indignance on the matter when a microphone is thrust in their face … Overall, though, be very sure that these players have very little to do with this process and care only about the date and time they will return to the ice.”
Dejan Kovacevic

“If you put a gun to my head, I wouldn’t buy any (NHL) team, including the one I own.” 
Chicago Owner Bill Wirtz

“Predictably, the NHL Players’ Association put on a united front Tuesday after Goodenow held meetings over two days in Toronto with player representatives from the 30 NHL teams. Basically, they reaffirmed their commitment to their cause, which is to say they were together in their irrational thinking … Misguided they stand, and misguided they will fall.”
Bucky Gleason

“Players sometimes say, well, there’s too many teams. I find that incredible. A player should want the maximum number of jobs out there. The average NHL career is eight years. A player doesn’t want to spend two of them in Europe for half of his NHL salary.”
Brian Hayward

“If there is a work stoppage, lockout or strike — whatever you want to call it — the owners will lose $240 million instead of the $300 million they’d lose if they played on time. The players will lose $1.2 billion if they don’t play. Therein lies the stupidity of the whole affair.”
Brian Burke

“It’s uncomfortable to lose money having worked so hard to make it. I’m investing in one sense. The team has to be self-sustaining. This is not a church that will stay open forever.”  
Islanders owner Charles Wang

“There is nothing an NHL player can say that one fan can empathize with. That is the reality. And the lack of concern for the fans by the players has sealed that fate. Words will not win fans back, actions will. Players realize this. Their morale is shrinking as they realize they are obliterating a way of life like few others in the world. Meanwhile, a few good men are in Europe living a life not too far from the life they are sacrificing. The whole ‘crusade’ is becoming pathetic and downright laughable. Players realize this. They will NOT sacrifice a season or a season and a half while Joe Thornton and Rick Nash get grapes fed to them by Miss Switzerland after a 12-9 win over the Kloten Flyers.”
John Bucigross