One of the prevailing philosophies surrounding the collective bargaining negotiations is that those players that suffered through the lost season of 2004-05 wont want to risk losing another years salary in their all-too-brief careers.
Thats one of the biggest reasons I still think that any potential lockout wont last more than a few weeks, or a month at the most, despite all of the rhetoric being spewed from both sides on Wednesday. At some point, the NHLs veterans and elder statesmen will step in and make sure a deal gets done. There are myriad other reasons why another lost season doesnt seem likely to me, but that may be the biggest.
The group I speak of includes a number of players on the Sharks, like captain Joe Thornton, who reportedly made plans to play in Switzerland that were promptly shot down by his agent (and brother, John) on Thursday morning in an email to CSNCalifornia.com.
Thornton is set to make 7 million in 2012-13, but lost out on more than 6 million in 2004-05, when he was still under contract to Boston. Other names that were denied their gigantic salaries that season, and are still effective veteran players in the league today, include Jarome Iginla, Marty Brodeur, Jaromir Jagr, Daniel Alfredsson, Patrik Elias, Teemu Selanne and a pair of Thorntons teammates, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle.
In other words, some of the more respected and successful players in recent NHL history.
Of the 20 guys on the Sharks that should be locks to make the opening night roster (as it stands currently), seven made their professional debuts before that lockout. The majority of players on San Jose and in the NHL werent affected at all in terms of dollars and cents, but the ones that were are among the games best players and leaders in the last decade.
Each of the seven players on the Sharks who saw a year of NHL eligibility go by the wayside has had a long and distinguished career. Some, like Boyle, are much closer to retirement and never again seeing a bi-weekly paycheck in the six figures. As much as the younger players and rising stars desire a CBA that allows them to continue making salaries that concurrently rise with league revenues, they cant ignore veterans that have helped grow the game to where it is today.
That means getting a deal done as quickly as possible.
Much like the players are trying to pit the big market teams against the small market teams by proposing expanded revenue sharing, the owners surely know that the longer a work stoppage lasts, the louder some of those veteran NHL voices will become. And they are voices that wont be easily ignored.