Boyle: Owners want us to 'miss paychecks'

September 21, 2012, 8:33 pm
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SAN JOSE Its been nearly a week since the NHL locked its doors, but more than a week since the league and its players association sat down for formal discussions about a new collective bargaining agreement last Thursday.

Are you surprised, Dan Boyle?

No, Im not. The information Ive gotten is the NHL is saying they want to negotiate, but everything were hearing is the complete opposite, he said, after skating on rented ice at the Sharks practice facility Friday morning.

I think they want us to miss some paychecks, is what I think. For them, I guess they figure they dont have to pay us right now, so theyve got nothing to gain by settling this thing.

The first of 13 scheduled paydays for players is not until the middle of October, so Boyle is essentially predicting that at least the first month of the season will be lost. The league already wiped out its preseason schedule through September 30, but no regular season games have been formally scratched just yet.

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Joe Pavelski wasnt quite as pessimistic as his teammate, pointing out that the NHLs Bill Daly and NHLPAs Steve Fehr reportedly had some informal contact throughout the week.

I dont think there were any sit-downs in the business room, but I think there were probably some little talks at some point from the assistants, Pavelski said. Theyre always working. On our side, were always working, looking at the numbers and looking at where things can happen.

Its difficult for the common man on the street to wrap his head around the kind of money that the NHL and players are trying to divvy up. League revenues reached 3.3 billion last season, while the average player salary falls somewhere in the low-to-mid 2 million-a-season range, depending on whom you believe.

Boyle was quite frank in his explanation that the players know how good they have it when it comes to their incomes and quality of life.

People always compare their own salaries, and their 9-5 job salaries. It was the same last lockout. Greedy, rich, millionaire hockey players, and Id play for a tenth of that,' and 'its going to take me 30 years to make that much.

I just try to tell people that you cant compare apples and oranges. I dont compare my salary to Tom Cruise when he makes 20 million per movie. Its just kind of the way it works. Is it fair for a surgeon or doctor that saves lives every day to make less than a hockey player, basketball player or movie star? Its not. Its not fair. But thats the way it is. But, most people have been supportive. It sucks, I just hope it gets resolved.

Stars legend Mike Modano recently made some headlines after he told ESPN The Magazine that the previous lockout of 2004-05, in which the players sat for the entire season, wasnt worth it.

"It's money you feel you never get back. At some point, we were sold a bill of goods," Modano told ESPN. "Everybody was buying it. Everybody thought, 'Let's not let each other down. Let's do it for the future of the game. Blah, blah, blah.' You're only in the game so long."

Boyle, who was still a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning at that point and spent the lockout year in Sweden, doesnt necessarily agree.

You can think that, but if anybody digs up the research and looks back at what their offer was before we missed the year, it was a hard cap with no movement. Who knows where wed be at this point, Boyle said.

In 2004, the NHL initially requested a 35 million hard salary cap and the players getting 50 percent of revenues. By the time it was settled almost a full year later, players accepted a 39 million cap and 57 percent.

Pavelski hadnt read the Modano comments, but said: Careers and short, and you just want to play. If we didnt have this set at a certain level, and we just played, guys would play for nothing. Its what everybody loves to do. But, there have been certain standards set. It wasnt that long ago that there were huge concessions.

He continued, Hopefully we find common ground and we can play. Modano is right, its a waste and wed love to be playing, and wish it was starting up today.

It was, in fact, supposed to be the first day of training camp. Just five of the regulars were on hand in what was the lowest turnout since the lockout began, according to Boyle. Several players have already hopped on flights across the Atlantic Ocean, though, while others have returned to their respective hometowns to practice and train. Boyle, Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Adam Burish and Antti Niemi were the only players that decided use the 405-per-hour rented ice on Friday, although several players like Brent Burns, Ryane Clowe and Tommy Wingels are expected back at Sharks Ice next week.

If the lockout continues, players like Pavelski and Burish both said they are considering going overseas.

Obviously, were not in a huge rush to get over there right away, although I do realize there are a lot of guys going, said Pavelski, whose wife and young son could accompany him wherever he went. Its probably the best way to be prepared to play like that, and have that structure. As of now, were going week-by-week, or day-by-day, rather.

Burish, who signed with the Sharks this summer, arrived in town 10 days ago. Hes currently living in a hotel and preparing to move into a house, but admits that the lockout has left him bored out of his mind.

He also appears frustrated that he hasnt yet gotten the opportunity to bond with all of his new teammates, after spending the last two seasons in Dallas.

Thats the hard part, for me. When you go to a new team you want to get to know the guys, you want to hang out with them, skate with them, train with them. Usually its the first couple weeks where youre just kind of feeling things out and getting to know guys. Now, Ive got to wait. I get to know the six guys that are here still, but thats about it. I havent gotten to see the team dynamic, see how guys are together, see how guys interact. Thats kind of tough for me.

He did mention that hes been taking lots of Pavelskis money on the golf course, although Pavelski didnt seem to agree.

When I finally gave him seven-and-a half-strokes, it became fair, Pavelski joked.

But smiles are hard to come by when it comes to the lockout, as players and fans alike have to hang on before NHL hockey resumes. How long that takes is difficult to predict.

My guess is as bad as everyone elses, Pavelski said. Nobody knows.