The season isn't even over by a week and already the prospect of no hockey in 2004-05 seems to inching closer and closer.
The NHLPA issued a warning to the NHL owners on Friday, No salary cap or there will be no hockey. Bob Goodenow head of the player's association says he's not optimistic that things will be settled by the time training camps roll around in September. Goodenow addressed over 170 hockey players over the last two days, advising them of the stalemate in negotiations and what the players association's strategy might be.
Trevor Linden player rep for the Vancouver Canucks, says that some of the players may head for Europe and the friendly scheduling of the European league. NHLPA officials are also keeping their eyes on the fate of the new WHA, the eight team loop which announced it plans to be in operation by October.
While they welcome the possibility of at 160 new jobs appearing on the market just as a lockout appears likely, they wonder when the league owners will address a few of their concerns.
WHA officials have plans for a draft to stock their teams in July at which time they'll make overtures to some NHL stars possibly looking for a change or a chance to make some extra money.
In the mean time, the appearance of the WHA and the European options seem to be the best weapon the players association has to use against Gary Bettman and his thirty owners.