Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Shanny on replacement players

In some pretty radical comments, Brendan Shanahan told CBC's Tom Harrington that he has no problem with replacement players, as long as they are career minor leaguers.
"I think it's a two-way street and if we can go down and play in some of their leagues then they can certainly come up and be replacement players in the NHL. I don't think [replacement players] is a successful proposition. I think that will just ruin the situation even more. "But you know what I would say to a young guy who's playing in the East Coast or United Hockey League who has an invitation to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Go for it. Good luck."
I agree with Shanahan that replacement players wouldn't be very successful. I know I personally would have a tough time accepting replacement players and, though it's easier said than done, I might not watch at all. I certainly would never pay to see a game. I would only watch it because it would be hockey but, as far as I'm concerned, that would not be the NHL. If the replacement players can come in and play at an exceptional level, I might be won over, but condition of the NHL's talent pool leads me to believe that will not happen. Scab hockey will be a poor substitute, even with the League as un-fun to watch as it has been recently. The League has not stated any official intention of restarting next season with scab players but it is widely rumored that their plan is to do so. That is due to comments made by the owners early on in the lockout, though those owners have been heavily fined for it. Gary Bettman has downplayed the rumors, most recently after the meeting the NHL Board of Governors had Tuesday.
"We discussed a variety of options and I don't want to focus on any one because it would seriously be misconstrued and be potentially inflammatory. The fact is there are lots of options."
Bettman also had this to say:
"Hopefully it's an alternative proposition that we never have to focus on because our commitment remains making a fair partnership deal with the players."
I'm surprised Shanahan has gone out on a limb like this. Be prepared to see a retraction after the Bob Goodenow Dissent suppression Goon Squad gets to him. If he says these comments were taken out of context, I'd like CBC to release a full transcript of his conversation with Harrington. Shanahan may have saved himself some grief, however, with this comment:
"I wouldn't blame a guy being a career minor leaguer getting an opportunity playing in the big leagues, I would be a little resentful towards an NHL player that went across the lines."
It's safe to say that "a little resentful" actually means "really resentful" in context. It's what I would expect, though, and Shanahan would have been lying if he'd said he wouldn't mind former-NHLer scabs.


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