On Friday, the NHL announced another round of cancellations, wiping out the entire month of November. (Or at least the games scheduled, not the existence of the month itself. They don't have that power... yet.) It wasn't a shock, since Thursday's withdrawal of their latest offer effectively guaranteed today's move, but it was yet another reminder of how sucky things are right now.
If today's announcement made you angry, you are not alone. Martin St. Louis is mad as Hell, and he went on the record Friday with some very strong quotes. From the Tampa Bay Times:
"I'm shaking my head every time I wake up," he said. "We're telling everybody we're going to go to 50 percent, let's share responsibility to get there. They don't want that. Again, they want to hit us. It's us, 24 percent last time and now 12 percent, and doing that when the game has grown the most, it's tough to take."
Added St. Louis: "Nobody is crying poor here, and I think it's hard for the fans to understand that. But it's about when there's a problem we have to fix it all the time and they don't want to take responsibility, too."
But St. Louis wasn't done there. He saved his even angrier thoughts for a text message to Josh Rimer of NHL Home Ice.
"If the fans think that the NHL wants to play. Think again," he said. "They don't want to meet and they cancelled all November. Way to go Gary you really care about the game!!"
Rawr! Like I said, Martin St. Louis is pissed.
As one of the NHL's older players, he has every right to be. St. Louis is a guy nearing the end of his career, and he has to know that a year off could just about do it for him. Jeremy Roenick made this point in a recent interview on Costas Tonight, talking about how the last lockout affected veteran players like himself:
In 2004, I was still a prominent star playing at the top of my game and I scored one of the biggest goals of my career in 2004 and after that I struggled just to stay in the league. Losing a year of my professional life hurt me physically. It hurt my reputation. You can look at other guys like Mark Messier who had a storybook career that had to retire, never play a game and never had his rightful ending. It's a very difficult situation to be in.
At 37, St. Louis has to know this could very well be his fate if the entire season is lost. The 2011-12 season was his first below 80 points since 2005-06, and he may very well only have one or two years left in him. If the lockout takes one of those years from him, he too might be robbed of his rightful ending after a storybook career.
It's the same fear that players like Ray Whitney, Teemu Selanne, Sergei Gonchar, and Daniel Alfredsson are likely feeling after great years. It's a little harder to get up to full speed at their age. Can their NHL careers survive a full stop?'
Clearly, even the thought of it makes St. Louis angry. It's also why he's beginning to strongly considering going overseas.
"I need to play," he told Damian Cristodero. "If it's not here, I'll be playing somewhere. I don't know when that date is, but every day I wake up, I'm closer to that date."