GettySo while the NHL is muzzling its owners and executives under the threat of fines, the players continue to speak out.
Martin Havlat of the San Jose Sharks, for example, addressed Jimmy Devellano's comments from last week — that "the owners can basically be viewed as the ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle" — through his agent Allan Walsh on Twitter:
"The comments made by Devellano are nothing new. The players know that's how Bettman and some of the owners think, we're not shocked at being called 'cattle'. I can tell you the players have been called a lot worse by some of the guys on the other side, it's just never been reported publicly. I think it helps that the fans get to hear what we already know we're not humans in their eyes, we're just pieces of meat that get to eat some grass for awhile."
Interesting that the Havlat message came through his agent's account (24,184 followers) rather than his own (42,000-plus followers). Not coincidental: That Walsh was one of the first to push the original Devellano interview.
(UPDATE: Some clarification -- Havlat sent the quote to Bruce Garrioch who used it in his Sunday column on Devellano, and then Walsh tweeted it out.)
While there's no denying the owners see players as overfed and disposable, this may also be an appropriate moment to note that Martin Havlat has been given two contracts that total $48 million since 2006, and paying through 2015.
Again, that's not saying he doesn't have a point. That's just saying that even Lil' Wayne doesn't get that kind of high-quality grass ...
While Havlat addressed the carnivorous rancor of the last week, Dan Cleary of the Detroit Red Wings became the latest NHL player to offer a sobering assessment of the lockout: That he's prepared for it to last a year or longer.
"I think people don't think it can go a year," Cleary said after several Wings held an independent skate at Troy Sports Center. "As players, we think it can. Maybe longer."
[…] "Just trying to be realistic," Cleary said. "I think the league is waiting for us to make the move, and we're waiting for them to move. So someone has to move. And I don't see it coming from our end. We've given them a couple of good options that they can work with, and they, obviously, feel it's not good enough.
"We're at a stalemate, I guess you can say. We're stuck in the middle right now."
Cleary's comments aren't exactly out of step with other NHL players that have been locked out. Rick Nash, playing in the Swiss league, said he believed the lockout could eat the season. Alex Ovechkin thought the same, and declared he might stay in Russia if players' salaries are cut in the next CBA.
So is this just negotiating bluster or are NHL players convinced that the 2012-13 season is toast?