There's a lockout... so now what?

Jason Strudwick
September 17 2012 09:21AM

September 15th has come and gone without a new CBA agreement being reached. The NHL and NHLPA are now playing a game of lockout chicken that could last a while. In the meantime the players must figure out what to do.

I remember very clearly how I felt when the last lockout began... ‘ok, so now what?’ I had already made a plan in my mind to head overseas after Christmas to play if the lockout was still in effect but it was the day to day plans that were harder to figure out. No one knew how long the lockout would last.

Staying in good shape was a priority, especially when I was fighting for a new contract every year. But how to approach that? It is impossible to hit the gym hard every day, week after week for an endless period of time. Your body and mind both give out.

For summer workouts, the end is training camp so you plan your hard work periods, some down weeks and prepare to peak in the middle of September. It is actually a pretty easy process. But with no end in sight the planning becomes more difficult. Without a plan, your conditioning can easily slip away from you. I saw more than a few players who looked like they swallowed a beer barrel by Christmas!

The same went for skating. It got a little old heading to skate at the Knights of Columbus twin rinks every morning. Although it was nice to see the other guys, the skates went from organized practices to five versus five dangle fests pretty quickly. I have never tried to toe drag guys more often, even going back to street hockey when I was ten! Socially it was fun but my hockey skills were not as sharp as I wanted.

About a month into the lockout I went to the horse races with a couple of other players and we all were feeling the same. We had the same questions and issues. What should we do? How are your workouts going? What are you up to? Are you going to play somewhere?

Hockey players are creatures of habit. For so many years, your life is set in stone. Train and skate all summer, go to training camp, play through the season, rest and then start all over in the summer. Suddenly there was a big glitch in the routine. We were all trying to figure it out.

I actually really began to enjoy other activities. With the NHL schedule being so intense there is not a lot of time for anything else. I got a chance to downhill ski, cross-country ski and even to help a friend with a home renovation. It was all fun but most of the time I was wondering where the CBA negotiations were at.

There were more rumors about the CBA going around then a guy could handle. Someone would text and say the negotiations were heating up, get ready to play. The next week another player would call and say it was hopeless. Talk about up and down!

Although I went over to play in Hungary just before the lockout officially wiped out the season, just getting on that plane to fly there put all those rumors in my rear view mirror. It was a good feeling. I was going to do what I wanted to do, play hockey, the CBA would look after itself.

My advice to all NHLPA players is to go and play, somewhere, anywhere. Get into your normal routine of playing. Time will pass a lot quicker. Don't wait, find a team now either in one of the North American or European leagues. You can stay updated with negotiations through in the Internet. I promise you will not miss a bit of info!

Jaromir Jagr (s.yume/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

Already on Sunday, about a dozen players, some very high profile, like Jaromir Jagr and Pavel Datsyuk, have already committed to teams in Europe. They are the smart ones. No doubt there will be some issues to work out especially player insurance. This can be resolved. If Datsyuk found a way, everyone can.

Go play, take your mind off the CBA negotiations. Settle into your normal hockey season, even though it might not be in the NHL. You will be better prepared when the season does start up... if and when it starts.

RECENTLY BY JASON STRUDWICK

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Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#51 Avalain
September 18 2012, 11:07AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

For my next trick, I will somehow make the Edmonton Oilers good.

Hey, if this lockout continues the Oilers may end up tied for first place in the league! Does that count?

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#52 Avalain
September 18 2012, 12:00PM
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Turnover wrote:

I seems economics is not one of your strong characteristics. Numerous NHL teams are losing money. Every year. In order for the league to survive the losses of these franchises, they have to get it under control. This is their last chance.

As for you telling me to get a skillset in the 1% of what I do? I might already have it. After all, the business I own turns a profit. Every year. Just like a business is suppossed to do. If it did not, it would get changed. Immediately.

As for the players willing to continue playing? Why not? Nothing changes for them. For now. But all those owners losing millions each year are going to have to face reality. Not every team losing money was meant to be a writeoff. That's where the issue of economics comes into play.

If you're in the top 1% of business owners you are definitely going to be making a lot more than a $15/hr labourer. And if your business failed for any reason would you take a $15/hr job just to know what it was like, or would you start another business?

Actually, that's all beside the point. The point is that this is a job that requires a huge amount of skill, practice, and physical conditioning. On top of that, it's highly competitive. Getting a job laying bricks will mean that they wouldn't be able to practice enough to keep their skill level where it needs to be as soon as the lockout ends.

A hockey player can't just stop doing what they do and expect to be able to pick up exactly where they left off a year ago. They have to keep their skills up and keep learning or they will fall behind.

That being said, it's fairly obvious that the players had a sweet deal at 57%. It was a foot-in-the-door deal as the owners were trying to push a salary cap in the first place and then balance it the next time around (which is, unfortunately, now).

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#53 NewAgeSys
September 18 2012, 02:01PM
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Jason Strudwick wrote:

I see where you are coming from and respect your Opinion but to be honest you don't know me or the values I live my life by. Don't judge me and lump me in as 'you people'.

Just like everyone in this world the current group of Nhlpa members are making choices and decisions they feel are best for them personally and as a group. What may seem crazy or stupid from the outside are decisions not reached on a whim but thought out to serve a purpose.

I agree the prices of tickets are very high, I would like to see a reduction so more people had access to a game. If you don't feel entertained watching a hockey game then for sure don't go. Spend your entertainment money on other options.

I think Turnover may have been referencing all hockey players as a group based on their average NHL salarys which far eclipse the 30some thousand a year the average Canadian earns.There is some possibility that you lumped yourself into that group with your first professional contract.

I wouldnt want to carry the physical scars aches and pains a pro Hockey player normally accumulates,however we are all exposed to occupational hazards,I myself was injured on a Construction site,I suffered serious permanent spine and hip injurys which will ultimately require surgical intervention.I didnt ever have the fiscal dynamic present where I could provide for my complete potential 20yr future earnings every single YEAR.So there is no comparative value available when dicussing these dynamics,by virtue of being lumped into the average NHL player salary category,you are unavoidable defined in certain areas,notwithstanding your personal qualitys or values.They are seperate issues.

There is no power on Earth that can justifiable remove an individuals right to free will and the direct manifestation of that ability or expression.

There is however a societally catalysed definition of morality that has been expressed through the Occupy movement and other great changes we are seeing on todays world.We are seeing a definition and recognition of the 10% vs the 90%.We are seeing a reverse stereotype in which excessive personal accumulation of wealth at the manipulated expense of Everyman is being identified as a dynamic and illuminated.People can name names now,and their has been a backlash.I would suggest that I interpret the post by Turnover as an appeal on that societally moral level to NHL players from the Everyman perspective,not a scathing attack more of a plea for a brotherly aknowledgment and understanding.

I dont think that I have a right to judge anyones personal choices or be envious of their sucess or judgmental of their lack of sucess.However I do aknowledge the importance of and the indirect power of Societally defined morals,their evolution and the effects that evolution can potentially have on my and anyone elses life.

I respect the rights of Players to organise and work together to create a better working and earning environment for themselves,but it is extremely hard not to pass judgment on dynamic actions within the context of that selfrepresentation that filter down to my wallet as a fan.Just like we hate it when the price of gas or oil rises when WE havent gotten a pay raise to balance the greater and unexpected cost.The solution to both dynamics is the same,seek out the source of the atrificially inflated value and stop it at a dynamic level,stop the short-trading.We understand it now as consumers because we see the same squeeze put on us in other areas of our lives,consumers are more and more educated every day.Sorry for the backlash Players seem to take but after all they are the product and we all know what gets criticcly analysed every time a price goes up---the product--If you are in the grocery store and your favorite soup has tripled in price,you will naturally pick it up and look at it out of instinctive reflex,but then you will view it in a different light than ever before,roll it in your hand and then put it back on the shelf and go for a no-namer,unless you dont care about the extra cost.

Sorry for seeming to do the same to hockey players,but please remember we are consumers and you are product ,neither one of us controls the store{owners}the product is sold in or the factory the manufacturer makes the product in{NHL}.Just keep praying a no-name hockey alternative doesnt show up and allow us to put you guys on the shelf for a looooong time,{KHL}We dont want that as fans.We like our Campbells so dont price us out of your purchasing range ,once its done its done,each time the price goes up the potential market shrinks.

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#54 Tyler
September 18 2012, 10:09PM
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My beer league team will take a few oilers

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