Former National Hockey League player Mike Eagles is hoping the protracted lockout between the National Hockey League and its players will end soon and a future deal will “protect the owners from themselves.”
Eagles, who played 853 games in the NHL and is now the athletics director at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, said he believes a deal will soon be reached between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) to end the 109-day lockout.
“But I, from day one, I didn't think they would let the season go. It seems to be kind of like the same timetable that we went through in 1994-95,” Eagles said on Wednesday.
In 1994-95, the NHL locked out its players from Oct. 1, 1994, to Jan. 11, 1995. Once a deal was struck, the league ended up with a 48-game schedule.
The NHLPA is currently reviewing a new proposal from the league. The NHL has set a Jan. 11 deadline to save a 48-game season in 2013.
There are few details known about the recent proposals being exchanged between the league and its players.
But Eagles said any new collective agreement must ensure owners cannot circumvent the rules in the future.
“I hope the lesson being learned is that they have got to come up with a deal that they can't find ways around. I believe that the deal has to protect the owners from themselves. I blame the owners for this mess because they are the ones who signed the ridiculous contracts,” Eagles said.
“I don't blame the players, but at the same time the players have to understand it's very much a privilege and the owners are buying these franchises to give them an opportunity to play in the NHL.”
The former NHL player said he understands some hockey fans may not return to watching the sport when the lockout is finally resolved.
But he said he thinks the sport is still healthy and will continue to reach out to new fans.