It’s taken the NHL Players’ Association and owners two weeks just to agree to meet about the current NHL Lockout, which would lead many to believe that an agreement wouldn’t be hammered out in one day.
But the two sides agreed to meet on Friday, after the announcement came from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday that the remainder of the preseason had been cancelled.
The fact that the two sides are meeting piques the interest of all NHL players, as they are eager to put this situation behind them and get back to work. One of those players paying particular interest in Friday’s meetings is Pittsburgh Penguins’ winger Chris Kunitz.
“I’m very interested to hear if there’s any progress,” Kunitz said after Friday’s workout at the Iceoplex in Southpointe. “I will talk to our rep whenever he gets out of there and stay posted to see what’s going on. At this point all of us players will have our ears out trying to gather as much information as possible.”
With the regular season now doubtful to begin on Oct. 11 as originally scheduled, there’s really not much a veteran player like Kunitz can do except to continue to prepare and stay ready in case an agreement is reached.
Friday’s workout had less numbers than usual, but the mini-scrimmage between the players that were in attendance had some intensity to it, as it’s apparent that each player is eager to get back to playing games. However the longer the lockout drags on, there may be fewer players available to participate in the daily workouts.
“We’ve had some really good skates,” added Kunitz. “You have to stay ready and on average we have had about 14 or 15 of us here per day, which is really good for one team. It’s just nice to be situated and getting back on the ice.
“But as time passes it’s likely we will see more guys go back to their homes and spend time with their families. There’s only so much you can do here and if it seems like things may drag out guys will likely want to spend more time at home.”
For Kunitz in particular it’s a case of bad timing as he hasn’t had the opportunity to play a full season on Sidney Crosby’s wing in two years. Being that Crosby is healthy, Kunitz is a guy that could be in store for a big season.
“Every little skate and every little practice helps in terms of chemistry,” added Kunitz. “He’s one of the best players in the world and it’s good to see him out here working and having fun. It’s just nice to be around him and continue to build chemistry. Whatever the lines turn out to be is up to coach, but it’s just great to see Sid out here.”
In the meantime, Kunitz, like the rest of his teammates, need to adjust to life without games and need to find other things to do in order to pass the time.
“Well if it would ever quit raining I could get a lot of golf in,” said Kunitz. “Other than that, it’s just a lot of family time and extra-curricular activities with the kids and things like that.”