George Walker IV/The Tennessean
TROY, Mich. (USA TODAY) - Detroit Red Wings veteran Todd Bertuzzi expressed little hope today that there will be an NHL season.
"Not very optimistic," he said after a scantily attended players-run practice at Troy Sports Center. "I see us losing a year."
The NHL has been shuttered since Sept. 16, the day owners locked out players after failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. The last time the two sides were at odds over a CBA, the entire 2004-05 season was wiped out.
Any hope the 2012-13 season would start up in early December was shattered Wednesday, when the NHLPA made what it believed to be a significant step toward reconciliation, only to be told by the league that the sides are still far apart.
"I think the owners, at this time, are strong-holding it and putting their foot in the sand and not budging," Bertuzzi said. "They want what they want, and that's plain and simple.
"Unfortunately, it's going to take years to build back the revenue. It's going to take a long time. These people are (ticked) right now. They're not just - 'I don't care, I'll come back,' or whatever. Fans are (ticked) now. They're getting to a point where they're not even really paying attention anymore to what's going on. They're sick and tired of hearing the same (stuff) coming out of both sides' mouths, and who can blame them? It's frustrating."
There has been talk lately of decertification within the players' association, which essentially means the association would be dissolved. That would then mean the lockout would be illegal, and players could individually sue owners, arguing that owners are negligent regarding existing contracts.
That's a pretty drastic step, though, and would not lead to any faster resolution.
"So players go after owners, we sue them - how long is that going to take?" Bertuzzi said. "Four to five to six, seven months. So that means the season is gone. So if anything, it hurries up the process of ending this thing, so guys aren't sitting around waiting to see what's going to be next."