Lockout leaves frustrated Blackhawks ‘dipsy-doodling around’
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org September 21, 2012 11:02PM
The first day of camp normally isn’t full of fun activities. Still, “I dearly miss it,” Dave Bolland says. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: October 23, 2012 6:10AM
Blackhawks center Dave Bolland should have been going through fitness testing with his teammates Friday. They also should have had physical exams, baseline tests and some blood work.
Instead, as Bolland put it, ‘‘we’re just hanging out in a lonely dressing room over there’’ in the corner of Johnny’s IceHouse West.
Training camp was supposed to open Friday morning at the United Center, but the NHL’s lockout carries on with no end in sight. The first day at camp is long and arduous, but Bolland and others would rather be there instead of examining their European options and training on their own.
‘‘I dearly miss it,’’ Bolland said. ‘‘It’s always a tough day, the first day. You always miss the weigh-ins, the fat testing and all that. They’re actually fun days. They’re good days. You get your routine going.
‘‘I’d rather be doing that than waking up at 10 a.m. and strolling on over here [to Johnny’s]. It’s just dipsy-doodling around here, really. It’s finding things to do.’’
No formal talks have been held since the lockout began last Saturday night. Washington Capitals winger Troy Brouwer, who maintains a home in Chicago, said he understands that until the players agree to the owners’ demands for immediate pay cuts, the NHL won’t truly resume talks with the union.
‘‘I think that’s where most of the talks have halted in the last few weeks, maybe even months,’’ said Brouwer, who has attended several NHL Players Association meetings. ‘‘They’re still insisting on a big pay cut [up front], and the players aren’t willing to do so. Most talks go that far. We’ll see how it plays out.’’
Plenty of developments point to a long lockout. The NHL recently cancelled all of the players’ insurance, leaving the NHLPA to pick up the costs. Teams have laid off front-office employees, with the league itself reportedly turning to four-day workdays and 20 percent cuts for staff.
Many players, including standouts Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Rick Nash, Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin and Anze Kopitar, are already in Europe, practicing and playing for teams.
Some have argued that the European exodus shows the union isn’t truly together. But Hawks winger Patrick Kane doesn’t see it that way.
‘‘We can’t all go over as one big team. That would be impossible,’’ said Kane, who has talked with his agent about playing in Sweden, Switzerland or Russia. ‘‘Everyone wants to play hockey. When there is no league over here, sometimes you have to explore different options and go overseas. I think a lot of players are doing that just because they want to play hockey.’’
What’s left of the preseason — two games for the Hawks after the first round of cancellations — is expected to be cancelled next week.
‘‘It’s disappointing when you can’t get those preseason games in,’’ Bolland said. ‘‘Those are games to get your feet moving [and] get back into the game. . . . But we won’t be starting on time now.’’