Van Allen knows lockout consequences

Van Allen knows lockout consequences

Shaun Van Allen took a skate down memory lane Wednesday.

Van Allen, the former Ottawa Senators checking centre and current assistant coach for the Carleton Ravens, was back practicing with current locked out NHLers and his own university players. With some of his university players home for the holidays or busy writing exams, a workout spot opened up for Van Allen, whose 14-year NHL career ended with the Senators in 2003-04.

All of the above puts Van Allen, 45, in a unique position to discuss the current lockout. Any hopes he had of extending his career ended when the last lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season and he feels for veteran players who are in a similar position to where he was.

“I would have probably liked to have tried to play, but I don’t know if it would have happened or not,” he says. “It’s your routine. Every September you go to training camp. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You’ve been doing it for 15 or 16 years, at that point. You’re training in the summer time. You’re getting ready for the season. That’s just how you think. And then when it stops, that’s the hard part. September is always a different feeling.”

Back in 2004, Van Allen remembers thinking that the lockout would probably be solved by the following January or February, similar to in 1994, when the NHL season was reduced to 48 games and he was in the early stages of his career, playing with the Anaheim Ducks.

Then the lockout went on and on, before the 2004-05 season was wiped out entirely.

“We were told ‘we weren’t taking a (salary) cap, we weren’t taking a cap’, but that has worked out pretty well for both sides, really, so you don’t know. I thought that once a cap was in place, everything would be easier to get settled.”

Clearly, that’s not the case. Negotiations are at a standstill. At this point, the players’ association is in the midst of a vote to determine whether they have a mandate to decertify as a union, a process which could open the league up to anti-trust lawsuits. The NHL, meanwhile, has gone to court to have the lockout declared legal. The legal wrangling could force the sides to get a deal done. Then again, there have been previous signs of optimism that never amounted to anything.

Now far removed from it all and comfortably settled into retirement – he’s also helping coach one daughter’s ringette squad and he has also assisted with his other daughter’s hockey team in the past – Van Allen has become like so many disgruntled fans. He’s not taking sides, but he is shaking his head, wondering why the lockout can’t get resolved.

“It’s $3.3 billion (in revenues),” he says. “That’s a good chunk of change. You would think a lot of people would be happy with $3.3 billion, but we’re not. That’s how businesses run, I guess.

“I want to see hockey being played again. I watch basketball and I still watch football. But there’s something missing. There’s a huge void in our sports right now and it would be nice to watch hockey again.”

Van Allen, who scored 84 goals and 185 assists and was an excellent penalty killer during his 794-game NHL career, believes there could be a silver lining to the mess if the sides agree to a shortened season.

“There’s going to be a lot more teams with a chance of getting into the playoffs,” he says. “At times, it would be more exciting (than an 82-game season). I think some of the weaker teams would jump at the chance to play a 48-game season, because maybe, if they got off to a decent start, they can somehow get into the playoffs.”

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