Former NHL All-Star and current NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick hopes that current NHL players " are understanding that there's a lot at stake here for what they're going through" when it comes to the NHL lockout.
In an interview with NBC's Bob Costas, Roenick discussed his role as a self-professed "players' guy" in the last work stoppage and the consequences of that, the problems facing the current combatants of NHL labor war, and when he thinks the lockout will end, and if the NHL will have a season at all.
The full interview airs on Costas Tonight, this evening at 10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, but here are some excerpts from Costas and the always candid Roenick's conversation:
ON THE 2004-2005 NHL LOCKOUT: "In a way I regret it and you're right, I was a players' guy and stuck by the players but when you look back at 2004 and what I lost, and I just hope that all the players are understanding that there's a lot at stake here for what they're going through. Let's just go to brass dollars, I lost $8.5 million of money that I will never ever see again and I know nobody's crying in pity for me, but it's still money that's lost out of my pocket. In 2004, I was still a prominent star playing at the top of my game and I scored one of the biggest goals of my career in 2004 and after that I struggled just to stay in the league. Losing a year of my professional life hurt me physically. It hurt my reputation. You can look at other guys like Mark Messier who had a storybook career that had to retire, never play a game and never had his rightful ending. It's a very difficult situation to be in."
ON THE CURRENT LOCKOUT: "Time is ticking. There's still time to get a full season in if they get this done now. I think a huge deal for these two is to agree that they can do a 50-50 split. I understand what the players are saying. They're saying, ‘Hey listen, we don't want to give up the contracts the league has already negotiated with us,' and that's rightfully so. But they also understand that they have to give back. The owners need to make a little bit more to make that even playing field for the owners. A lot of owners are there losing money. Actually in a lockout, they're saving money. And if the players give back, which you know they're going to, and they're going to have to, but it's how fast can they get to that 50-50 split and still keep their contracts which is the big negotiating factor that they have to go through but there's still a season to be saved and I think that's exciting."
ON WHEN HE THINKS THE SEASON WILL START: "Well we do have the Winter Classic, arguably one of the biggest games in NHL history. I think that they will have a season. I think it'll be an abbreviated season. I don't think they'll have this done in a week or two in order to have a full season. But any kind of hockey is good for the National Hockey League. Players can still make their money and finally the owners can be at a little bit of even more playing field."