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Last lockout was “massive philosophical divide,” says former NHLPA president Linden

Nov 30, 2012, 2:18 PM EDT

Trevor Linden Getty Images

Depending who you ask, former player and NHLPA president Trevor Linden was either the hero that helped end the 2004-05 lockout, or a traitor.

Arguing for the former, here’s The Vancouver’s Sun Iain McIntyre:

He should have been honoured for saving the National Hockey League eight years ago, working through back channels to broker peace and build an exit lane from a destructive dispute that scuttled the 2004-05 season. Instead, Linden was vilified by some as the traitor who toppled NHL Players’ Association czar Bob Goodenow and “caved” to league owners, who got their salary cap.

Caved? Really? After a full season lost and no end in sight to the labour war? How many winters without the NHL needed to pass in Canada before it would have been honourable to devise a Plan B?

Not only did Linden, as the union president, get the NHL back on the ice, the NHLPA just about ran the table on contract items. The players’ “defeat” was so complete they collected $12 billion US in salaries over the life of a Collective Bargaining Agreement that enabled owners to generate record revenues and dramatically escalate the value of their franchises, as evidenced by Forbes’ current valuation of the Canucks at $342 million and the Toronto Maple Leafs at $1 billion.

And for the latter, The Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher:

The players are now feeling the consequences of the work of Trevor Linden and his henchmen, who stabbed their leadership in the back during the last tough lockout, taking the easy way out and letting Ted Saskin give the owners everything their hearts desired. Now the players have swallowed the salary cap, all the owners have to do now is get them to accept an increasingly lower percentage of the revenue every time a CBA expires.

Regardless of his legacy, Linden believes there’s a dramatic difference between the last lockout (the owners wanted a salary cap, the players didn’t) and the current one.

“It was a massive philosophical divide,” Linden said Thursday. “It was a huge philosophical divide on the economics of the game. … This isn’t.”

Linden’s role in the 2004-05 lockout is especially noteworthy today as the players consider the league’s offer to meet with owners without commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA leader Donald Fehr.

In January of 2005, Linden met with former Flames owner and NHL chairman of the board Harley Hotchkiss (without Bettman or then union executive director Bob Goodenow) in a last-ditch effort to save the season.

While the season was ultimately scrapped, the Linden-Hotchkiss relationship was considered a key factor in finally ending the dispute.

  1. ion4014 - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    “It was a massive philosophical divide,” “It was a huge philosophical divide on the economics of the game. … This isn’t.”
    I may be an idiot sir, but what I am not, sir, is an idiot. What makes the last lockout so drastically different from this current one? The scale of the differences? It doesn’t matter, not playing hockey is not playing hockey.

    • mpg44 - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      Sir , please don’t come back till you can assemble and relay a coherent thought . Thank you .

    • badintent - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      Easy solution , take all the Canadian hockey players to Thunder Bay, have them play hockey on the lake ice next to the ice fisherman, those that don’t fall in to the broken ice and drown or die of hypothermia get to play for $1 million a season.Case Closed
      In other news, both Hillary Duff and Carrie Underwood divorced their hockey husbands, citing lack of brains and $$$.

  2. kitshky - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Trevors spot on, there is no issue outside of money. Zero. There is no major philosphical difference (salary cap / players earnings tied to revenue …ect) except dollars.

    Players should be de-certification on the table, Owners should put contraction on the table … and I’m betting this thing would be wrapped up pretty quick.

  3. daburghdabest - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    The players-owners only meeting should take place in a wrestling ring & then as things start to progress Bill Daly can walk down the aisle with Jeremy Jacobs at his side on a microphone sarcastically saying “Well, well, well isn’t this nice?” as the crowd boos.

  4. matt8204 - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Different issues, same result. What an insult to the fans.

  5. H - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Bettman asking the players to meet the owners in the boardroom is akin to Fehr suggesting the owners play a game of hockey against the players to resolve the lock-out.

    I will not spend another dollar on the NHL, Players and league both have no idea how to manage money. From now on, I will stay at home and watch the games for free on TV, replicating the fan experience by having a copy of “JOCK JAMZ ’98” at the ready for every stoppage in play and instruct one of my friends to insist I “Make some NOIZE!!!” before all faceoffs.

  6. wsphloyd - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    FIRE BETTMAN T-Shirts and more at:

    The little, arrogant weasel must go!!

  7. sportsfan69 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    I personally commend Trevor Linden action’s in his leadership and dedication to the game of hockey. As former union leader, now working for the other side of the table on the management side. What Trevor did in 2004-5, to end the lockout should be admired. “it took guts” something that the current NHLPA severely lack. The only current player that may have the same leadership and the balls to end this stalemate could be Ryan Callahan. A blue collar guy who has the “it” factor when it comes to leadership and dedication.

  8. Jeff - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    I thought it was Shanny who caved.

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