TORONTO - If you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction, listen to some of the Flyers who lived through
the lockout of 1994.
Today is expected to mark the end of hockey as we know it. The gloomiest forecasts have the sport shutting
down for a year or more.
Back in Voorhees, Flyers veterans talked about doomsday scenarios.
"This could last up to a year or more,'' John LeClair said. "You have to plan for the worst in these situations.''
The repercussions of a lengthy work stoppage will be felt far and wide. That's one thing - maybe the only
thing - the players and owners agree upon.
"To sit out and miss a whole year, it could have a negative effect on our fan base,'' LeClair said.
Not to mention the $9 million paycheck LeClair won't be collecting.
The NHL Board of Governors is scheduled to meet in New York. After the meeting, commissioner Gary Bettman
is expected to make the lockout official.
Unlike '94, both sides have had plenty of time to get ready for this showdown. Reportedly, the players have
been putting away paychecks for a couple years.
That's why you probably won't see much movement until about January. At that point, a decision will have to
be made to salvage a season, just as it was in '95.
"Both sides believe the best bargaining position is beyond the 11th hour,'' Keith Primeau said. "I don't have
a good feeling.''
Primeau has four school-aged children. He intends to make the most of his "time off.''
"I'll sit and wait,'' he said. "This is an opportunity to spend some quality time with them.''
Defenseman Mattias Timander is the only Flyer with plans to play in a professional league. Timander has a
clause in his contract which allows him to play for MoDo in the Swedish Elite League. However, once the NHL begins to cancel
regular-season games, Timander will have to spend the entire year in Sweden.
Center Patrick Sharp and defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Dennis Seidenberg will play for the Phantoms, the Flyers'
AHL affiliate. Meanwhile, as the World Cup championship game approached, players and coaches tried to keep their minds on
the business at hand.
"I push it off,'' Canada head coach Pat Quinn said. "We've asked our players to push it away and try to maintain
their focus on what's at hand.
"We can't control the other side. We can hopefully control our own minds and what they're thinking about during
this day, at this time.''
Goalie Martin Brodeur added: "This is something that we'll deal with at a later date. All the players in our
locker room, we almost made a pact together not to talk about it or getting affected by it.''