AMHERST — It’s looming. Barring a major negotiating breakthrough, the NHL plans to lock out its players at midnight Saturday, a sad and stunning end to a collective bargaining agreement under which the league generated record revenues.
Beginning today in Manhattan, at least 10 Buffalo Sabres will be among the 250 or so players attending the NHL Players’ Association meetings. The two sides also reportedly plan to meet again today, a bit of good news.
On Thursday, however, a short walk from the players’ hotel, the NHL’s Board of Governors will likely authorize commissioner Gary Bettman for the league’s third lockout in 18 years.
Sabres captain Jason Pominville said it’s surreal players are facing another work stoppage. The last one wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.
“For it to happen again, all you hear is the league has done better, has grown, has (produced) record (revenue) years every year since the lockout, and now we’re in the same spot,” Pominville said Tuesday inside the Northtown Center following an informal scrimmage. “They basically want to go back to where we were seven years ago. It’s disappointing because I’m sure there are some owners that want to play, want to get it done.”
Players have already started making lockout provisions. Twenty-eight Sabres and prospects skated together Tuesday. If there’s a lockout, old teammates will run practices, said Pominville, who wouldn’t name them.
“We want to be prepared,” Pominville said. “When it does get settled, if there is a lockout, it’s going to be five, six days where you have to get right back into it. So we want to be able to play.”
Tyler Myers, who said he recently gave his union rep duties to fellow defenseman Jordan Leopold, has been exploring options to play in Europe and would leave right away if an opportunity materialized.