Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson had some choice words for NHL owners Wednesday.
“Like everybody else, I’m disappointed that the owners chose to have this tactic from the very beginning,” Alfredsson told the Citizen. “They chose to give a low-ball offer from the get-go. It was kind of clear what they wanted and I don’t see anything changing anytime soon.”
In a normal NHL world, Alfredsson would be leading the Senators against the Canadiens at Montreal’s Bell Centre in the season opener Thursday, hoping to build upon the momentum that led to the team’s surprise playoff berth last spring. Instead, NHL players are spread out around the world, awaiting for a resolution in the lockout.
The Senators captain says he’s “past being frustrated,” believing that the NHL had a lockout in mind from the start of negotiations towards a new collective bargaining agreement.
Back on July 13, the NHL proposed that players accept 43 per cent of the league’s hockey related revenues, down from 57 per cent in the now expired old CBA. In addition, the NHL wanted a new definition of how those revenues were defined. The players association countered a month later with a proposal to gradually reduce its share of overall revenue, but nowhere to the extent the NHL wants.
The NHLPA rejected the NHL’s latest offer for players to receive 46 per cent of revenues.
Ever since, the NHL and players have engaged in a public war of words, claiming the other side isn’t willing to compromise. With the sides meeting in New York Wednesday and Thursday, at least there’s some fresh hope that progress can be made.
The way Alfredsson sees it, the players’ first offer was made in the spirit of trying to get an agreement done.
“I believe the players are doing the right thing,” he says. “We’ve been more than fair. Maybe it would have been different if we, the players’ association, had done what (the owners) did in their first offer and said ‘we want 70 per cent’. We started at a fair point, moving in their direction and now they’re frustrated that we’re not moving. It’s disappointing more than anything.”
The Senators captain turns 40 in December. If the lockout lasts the entire NHL season, it’s possible that he has already stepped on Scotiabank Place ice for the last time.
“If nothing happens, I could have played my last game. That’s fine with me. I’m not going to try and push here. I want a deal that’s fair. And if that means we’re not going to play because the owners don’t want to negotiate fairly with us, then so be it and that’s the way it is. Do I want to play? I love to play. I’m having a blast when I’m out there.”
There’s no set approach to dealing with the down time. While fellow Senators Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris, Sergei Gonchar and Kaspars Daugavins are playing in Europe and half a dozen others are practicing informally here three or four days a week, Alfredsson has kept his skating to a minimum. He has been active off the ice.
“You can look at it different ways,” he says. “I can do a lot of things in the gym that I wasn’t able to do for the past five or six years, so I’m kind of enjoying that and building a base that I haven’t been able to do for a long time. Physically, I feel really good. On the ice, I feel technically good, but my shape isn’t as good because I haven’t skated as much.”
If the entire season is cancelled, the Senators captain says he’ll probably start looking for a place to play, “but where that is, I don’t know.”
If there’s one fringe benefit to being locked out, it’s that he can spend more time at home, and at the rink, with his four sons.
“That has been a nice change,” Alfredsson says. “I’m going to see the 67′s (at Scotiabank Place) on Sunday, because my son (Loui) is playing during the intermission or before the game. I don’t know if they’ll let me in the building.”
The guy who has helped fill Scotiabank Place for the past 16 years should be okay. He has a ticket for the game.