Two prominent goaltenders are the first "name" players
who have agreed to join an interim hockey league proposed by a Mississauga investment broker should the National Hockey League
lockout its players next month.
"I can tell you that Dan Cloutier and Chris Osgood have confirmed they'll
play in the OSHL (Original Stars Hockey League) in the event of a work stoppage in the NHL," said Randy Gumbley, owner of
the Streetsville Derbys of the Provincial Junior A Hockey League.
Gumbley told The News the two are among several players, through their agents,
who have agreed to join the OSHL should the NHL and the NHL Players' Association fail to come to terms on a new collective
agreement by the Sept. 15 deadline.
The Derbys' owner/coach said he would like to announce the names of more players,
but is reluctant to do so until he has had a chance to speak with lawyers about what he can and cannot do.
"We're not sure whether we can only announce the names of free agents who
are un-signed or players who just recently signed with their teams," said Gumbley, who planned to meet with
lawyers last night. "I just want this to keep moving forward and hope there
are no land mines along the way."
However, there are rumors that Alexi Yashin of the New York Islanders, Roberto
Luongo of the Florida Panthers, Dominik Hasek, who recently left Detroit to sign with the Ottawa Senators, Keith Primeau,
who recently signed a new, four-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, and his brother Wayne of the San Jose Sharks are
also ready to join the OSHL if there is a lockout.
"We need 66 players for the OSHL and I can tell you we're more than a third
of the way there," said Gumbley, who plans to stage hockey in seven Canadian cities and one city in the United States if the
NHL regular season is washed out. Mississauga is not included on that list.
Gumbley has scheduled a news conference for tomorrow morning at the Delta
Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre and he said there is a possibility some players and player agents will attend.
The news that Cloutier and Osgood have agreed to join the OSHL comes amid
a new round of talks between the NHL and the NHLPA, which are set to begin today in Toronto. The main stumbling block appears
to be the NHL's desire to establish a salary cap, or cost certainty, which the players are dead set against. If both sides
fail to reach an agreement, a lockout by team owners could wipe out the 2004-05 NHL season.
The 28-year-old Cloutier recently agreed to a one year, $3 million contract
with the Vancouver Canucks. He appeared in 60 games with the Canucks last season, posting a record of 33 wins, 21 losses and
six ties. He had five shutouts, a 2.27 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. It marked the third year in a row
that Cloutier has won 30 or more games in a season.
Osgood appeared in 67 games with the Blues last season, winning 31, losing
25 and tying eight. He had a goals-against average of 2.24 and a .910 save percentage.
Gumbley first told The News last week about the proposed OSHL, saying he would
stage games at the Metro Centre in Halifax, the Pepsi Centre in Quebec City, Toronto's Ricoh Coliseum, Copps Coliseum in Hamilton,
the John Labatt Centre in London, the Auditorium in Kitchener, the old Winnipeg Arena and the former home of the old Hartford
Whalers in Connecticut.
The six teams would play a round-robin format, with four five-game segments.
The winner of each segment advances to the semi-finals and the semi-final winners would play a best-of-five final series.
Should the NHL lockout extend beyond December, the six-team OSHL would play a second round-robin series, beginning in January.
THE MISSISSAUGA NEWS