Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Associated Press
BOLTON, Mass. — Andrew Ference turned up at the Boston Bruins annual charity golf tournament wearing his NHL Players Association cap.
He was ready for the season to start -- or not.
"For the most part, guys are going to play," whether it's in the NHL or in another league if there's a lockout, Ference said. "That's part of our lifestyle. You can't just sit around and twiddle your thumbs and hope things work out. We're lucky that we work in a sport where there are a lot of options."
The Bruins continued to make their way to the Boston area this week in time for training camp, even though it's becoming increasingly unlikely that the NHL season will start on time. The collective bargaining agreement expires on Saturday, and talks on a new one have stalled.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has said owners will lock the players out if a new agreement isn't reached before the deadline. The last time that happened, owners canceled the entire 2004-05 season before getting a new system that rolled back salaries 24 percent.
"It's their system," Ference said Monday.
"We knew what kind of deal we got last time," goaltender Tuukka Rask said. "That's not what we want this time around."
The Bruins' rookies were scheduled to report on Friday, with the veterans starting camp on Sept. 21. The NHL season is scheduled to start on Oct. 11.
Rask didn't sound optimistic.
"I hear November, December and New Year's," he said.
Asked if anyone was talking about October, he said: "No."
For Rask, a prolonged lockout would be especially disappointing. He missed the end of last season with a groin strain, but he inherited the starting job for 2012-13 when two-time Vezina Cup-winner Tim Thomas decided to take the year off.
Bruins Coach Claude Julien said the league has made progress since losing an entire season. He said it would be difficult to see things go backward, but he didn't want to get in the middle of the negotiations.
"You work for the owners and you work with the players," he said. "It's just a matter of staying out of it and respecting both sides."
Forward Shawn Thornton said he was more interested in a deal getting done than in looking around for other options. But he wasn't optimistic about the owners' initial proposals.
Talk of a 20 percent to 24 percent pay cut and applying it to revenue sharing "is not the answer," Thornton said.