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Lafleur: If players don’t like the NHL anymore, let them leave

Oct 15, 2012, 2:30 PM EST

Guy LaFleur Getty Images

Good riddance, says Guy LaFleur. Those players that want to stay in Europe instead of returning to the NHL when the lockout ends should be free do just that.

“Let them stay there, it will make more room for players from Quebec and North Americans,” LaFleur said last week at a press conference in his hometown of Thurso, Quebec.

He added: “As a supporter and former player, I do not care for players who want to stay in Europe. It’s their choice.”

Washington’s Alex Ovechkin has threatened to stay in Russia should a new CBA result in his salary being cut.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov thinks the KHL could become the preferred league for Russians.

“I think some of the players may not return to the NHL because you have everything here and major companies are going to pay the top players here big money. And, especially for Russians players who can play at home in front of their own fans and families and [earn] even bigger money than they have in the National Hockey League,” said Bryzgalov.

Whether players currently under contract to NHL clubs could actually follow through on that threat is another thing.

Regardless, LaFleur doesn’t sound too sympathetic for the plight of the NHLPA.

“The players are very fortunate to have the opportunity to play and make millions of dollars,” he said. “I’m happy for them, but on the other hand, they must realize something else: As athletes, they cannot earn more than the owners.”

  1. RoseTintedVisor - Oct 15, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    what a dingus.

    • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:35 PM

      Even as an American I have no problem with a former player of LaFleur’s stature making that statement.

      He posessed more talent and did more to elevate the skill level of the game than almost any other europen player that has ever laced up skates in the NHL.

      As a fan, I want guys like Malkin and Datsyuk to come back but if Ovechkin and Kovy don’t want to be here, that’s their choice. The league even with it’s issues is still the highest level of play in two of the best countries in the world.

  2. ribs108 - Oct 15, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    “Let them stay there, it will make more room for players from Quebec and North Americans,”. Hmmm, it used to just be Quebec and Canada. Now they’re not just a separate country, they’re a separate continent! If only…

    • blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      Take it easy there Spare Ribs …

      Now I’m no lover of the Frenchies, but there’s no denying of the fact that they were the original European “house builders” here in North America (ie: please ignore this “rhetorical” comment dear First Nations brothers). Not only did New France incorporate most of what would become Canada, as well it incorporated most of your USA too, all the way from the Ohio Valley to Gulf of Mexico ! It’s ironic in a way, as Napoleon was a bit of a “Bettman” himself by over-extending New France into the so-called “sunbelt” states. And just like Louisiana had to be sold for cash in-order to pay the bills at home, I believe that so too will the likes of Phoenix and Dallas eventually have to be sold, in-order to shore up the books ! :)

      • missthemexpos - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:50 PM

        Are you comparing Napoleon and Bettman in size too?

      • blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 5:30 PM

        come to think of it, there is a bit of a similarity eh ? … nonetheless, I think it’s safe to say that Fehr is no Wellington ! :)

  3. hockinj25 - Oct 15, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Is Quebec not in North America?

    • stakex - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Guy LaFleur obviously skipped a lot of school to play hockey when he was younger.

  4. aclassyguyfromaclassytown - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    It’s that type of attitude that is gonna kill hockey in the USA. There are top quality players going to play elsewhere and the thought that now comes to mind is “Let them leave”? It also really bothers me that people keep banking on the fans to be loyal enough to just come right back regardless of how many months or years of the sport are lost. I personally like hockey more than any of the other major sports and will always love hockey, but that doesn’t mean I have to love the NHL. Bettman thinks that the fans will just come right back when the doors open back up, and I think that this time he’s really gonna be sticking his foot in his mouth if this problem isn’t resolved soon.

  5. trick9 - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    ”“Let them stay there, it will make more room for players from Quebec and North Americans,””

    Fans don’t want to watch North American players though, they want to watch the best players.

    • blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:58 PM

      Gretzky, Orr, Messier, Howe, Park, Lemieux, Crosby, Dionne, Lafleur, etc …

      What are saying ? … these guys aren’t good enough for you ?

      • Doesnotmatter - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:16 AM

        Kopitar? You want him to stay in Europe?

  6. slickvb82 - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    That’s a lot of lost talent and entertainment. I disagree, get everyone back!

    • blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 9:02 PM

      Trust me pal … once the agreement is announced, Aeroflot is going to make an absolute “killing” with all that “lost talent & entertainment” scrambling to get back here on one-way charter flights !

  7. blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    STRAIGHT TALK FROM ONE OF THE GREATEST !

    Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how the older generation of players tends to always give it straight up and on the level ? No lame cliches, ducking of the issue or saying what “they think” people want to hear. Rather, the LaFleurs, Orrs and Gretzkys just tell it like it is, whether people like it or not …. so refreshing ! :)

    Anyway, Guy is “bang on” in terms of these fleeing Europeans. Just like your house or your apartment, a country is a “collective home” where people like Ovechkin should consider it a “privilege” to be invited in, so that he can make his lavish millions and live a life of luxury. His actions today and hollow threats of staying away, amount to nothing short of a “kick in the teeth” to the very people who’ve been so kind and generous to him … and it’s completely unacceptable. Good on you Guy for speaking up and telling it like it is ! :)

  8. tpa43 - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    They should make much more than the owners. The owners can be replaced. Players have talent and are why we watch the game.

    • blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 7:44 PM

      Complete silliness ! Are you going to pay to go and watch Ovechkin & Kovalchuk skate around on a frozen lake somewhere ? Of course not ! The owners are the ones who facilitate absolutely “everything” which is required in-order for us to watch our beloved game … and that includes the players themselves !

  9. staaltostaal - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I wonder if he’d say the thing to fans who are fed up with the NHL and want to leave.

  10. icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 15, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    He may be an all-timer but you can’t just replace top talent of foreign descent. The NHL already struggles with getting its share of advertising with lack of ‘identifiable’ star power. To encourage non-North American players to not come across the Pond, again, would leave the NHL in more of bind.

    • blomfeld - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:10 AM

      yo bro … the NHL or “Ligue nationale de hockey” did pretty darn good from it’s inception in 1917 to circa 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down … look, it’s a basic human fault of ours to think that the grass must always be “greener” on the other side of the fence … while understandable, such thinking is often completely misguided and “blind” to the wonders which we have ourselves, right under our own bloody noses ! :)

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM

        All I am saying is that it would be dumb to annex foreign players. Foreign players are usually the best athletes from their respective countries. Canada can say the same thing. America can’t. The top U.S. athletes are playing baseball, basketball and football. The NHL product would suffer if they somehow encouraged foreigners to stay at home.

  11. ducksk - Oct 15, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    The flower speaks the truth. He is a real man. Old school class!!!!

    • blomfeld - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:12 AM

      and so “speak the truth” do you friend ! :)

  12. ricepilof - Oct 15, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    hey Bloomfield. Dallas has a brand new owner….I’ve been saying in here for months now to let the Russians leave. they will come back eventually. I can’t stand players who think the league will be worse without them. Guy knows life in the NHL goes on just fine no matter what and one Russian player not playing in a game isn’t going to keep people from watching the sport. I still think the players not willing to negotiate is absurd. ask modano.

    • blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:07 PM

      Person A: “excuse me, but who’s this Ricepilot guy ?” …

      Person B: “I don’t know friend, but it sure sounds like he knows what he’s talking about eh?” …

      Yes indeed, you have a very smart and shrewd new owner there in the form of Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi. And it’s a good thing too, as “his” was apparently the only bid when the team was sold at auction last year. Anyway, you’re completely correct about the fact that the NHL will do “just fine, thank you” whether that includes people like Ovechkin or not. The comical irony with him however, is that “deep down” I bet you Capital fans are probably “praying” the fool stays in the KHL, thus rendering his “Titanic-sized” contract null & void and thus affording the team the freedom to head in a brand new direction ? Of course that’s unlikely to happen, as his empty threats are just that … empty.

  13. hooockey - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    By the way, columnist, it’s Lafleur, not LaFleur.

    Hard to believe someone who writes about hockey for a living doesn’t know that. If it’s the editor’s fault, I apologize,

    He was the biggest star in the NHL just before Gretsky arrived ;)

    • blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:43 PM

      By the way hooockey … it’s “Gretzky”, not Gretsky !

      Couldn’t resist friend ! :) … and besides, my gun captains have been a little bit “trigger happy” of late … probably due to all the “agents of upset” who’ve been coming out of the woodwork recently during this lockout business ? … anyway, I was about to jump at your statement that Lafleur was the biggest star in the NHL just before Gretzky arrived … and then I remembered that by ’79, Bobby Orr was sadly already gone for several years …

      Achtung Brough & company … your people have your backs man ! :)

  14. dhillca - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    Bloomfield says:
    Take it easy there Spare Ribs …

    Now I’m no lover of the Frenchies, but there’s no denying of the fact that they were the original European “house builders” here in North America (ie: please ignore this “rhetorical” comment dear First Nations brothers). Not only did New France incorporate most of what would become Canada, as well it incorporated most of your USA too, all the way from the Ohio Valley to Gulf of Mexico ! It’s ironic in a way, as Napoleon was a bit of a “Bettman” himself by over-extending New France into the so-called “sunbelt” states. And just like Louisiana had to be sold for cash in-order to pay the bills at home, I believe that so too will the likes of Phoenix and Dallas eventually have to be sold, in-order to shore up the books !
    ———
    There’s 30 seconds of my life I can’t get back

    • blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:51 PM

      30 seconds eh ? … well friend, there’s only three possible explanations for that:

      1) you’re an Ovechkin fanatic ?

      2) you’re a Luongo fanatic ?

      3) you don’t know how to “cut and paste” ?

  15. scionofflame - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    So Ovechkin and one or two other Russian players say something about staying overseas, and suddenly every European player is a traitorous douchebag. I don’t know about you, but I LIKE the Europeans on my team, and I’m glad they’re stay in shape overseas.

    As a Predators fan, I’m happy to hear Sergei Kostitsyn is kicking butt overseas for example, and any other Euro Pred that’s over there. I don’t blame them for running overseas. If I played hockey, I’d want to go play it where the skill level is solid…and for a lot of them, that means going home for now. Some might stay there, but most will come back.

    There’s always been a huge anti-Russian sentiment, but don’t lay that on all the overseas players. Half or more of all your teams are probably European and Russian. Deal with it.

    • blomfeld - Oct 16, 2012 at 2:03 PM

      Friend, I’ll answer you with my “serious” hat on. As a 53 year old man who’s been watching hockey since 1967, I’ve only ever owned “one” team jersey … that’s right, just one ! Now I actually made this jersey myself back in 1984 and I used to wear it while playing goal in a beer league back then, Anyway. I still “proudly” have it today, as I will never part with it, ever. Being plain white in color, on the back it has the number “20” and on the front are the letters “CCCP” … that’s right ! … Vladislav Tretiak ! :)

      Look, I like the Russians no less than any other nationality and so obviously I can appreciate Ovechkin’s talent and ability. My only knock on him is his selfish “new age” attitude, which is sadly pretty much “par for the course” these days. Nonetheless, he’s a “punk” in my opinion and therefore I’m going to have some fun at his expense !

      ps: bloody Kopitar and Martinez are going to have a good “talking to” when they get back to the King’s camp, believe me ! :)

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