CALGARY – Alex Tanguay doesn’t want to see another season of his career erased by an NHL lockout.
The veteran Calgary Flames forward, who turns 33 in November, was a member of the Colorado Avalanche when a lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season. He’s holding out hope the National Hockey League and players can salvage this season as he nears the late stages of his career.
“I missed a year doing that,” Tanguay said Thursday. “The lifespan of a hockey player is usually not that long and you want to make sure that you have as much time as possible to enjoy your sport.
“For me there’s a few years left. I don’t know how many. I certainly don’t want to go out and do what we did in 2004. I’m hoping that things will get resolved.”
Despite the fact that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated on Thursday that the upcoming season won’t start until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, Tanguay has faith the two sides can still get a new deal done.
“I’m still crossing my fingers, still hoping there’s time,” Tanguay said at the annual Calgary Flames Celebrity Charity Golf Classic at the Links of GlenEagles in Cochrane, just outside Calgary.
Owners have asked players to cut their share of hockey-related revenue during a six-year proposal. Initially, owners sought to drop the percentage given to players to 43 per cent from the current 57 per cent. They have since amended that to a six-year proposal that starts at 49 per cent and drops to 47 per cent.
The NHLPA is reportedly offering a package that starts at 54.3 per cent and ends at 52.7 per cent.
“People can make their own observations,” said Tanguay, a veteran of 12 NHL seasons including four with the Flames. “We’ve all seen what the league has offered the players. Quite honestly, we have full confidence that what we’ve been doing with (NHLPA executive director) Don (Fehr) and the way we’ve been proposing things is the right way to go.
“We’re trying to find solutions. We’re just not trying to cut back and then in another six years we’ll have to cut back again. We’re hoping to fix the league’s problem and to help them.”
Although Tanguay admitted that he feels sorry for disgruntled hockey fans, he added that he still supports the players’ stance.
“If you look at it, I don’t think the players are being greedy in any way,”Tanguay said. “Yes, we do make a lot of money. It’s the money we generate as well. You have to look at a little bit of everything.
“I feel very confident in the union and the job they’ve been doing. Hopefully we can reach a deal that’s fair for everyone and that’s profitable for the league and gets all the franchises success.”
Flames forward Curtis Glencross expressed his disappointment that Bettman and the owners have vowed to lockout the players if a new deal isn’t finalized before Saturday at midnight.
“We all love the game and we want to play the game,” Glencross said. “Obviously it’s disappointing. We don’t like sitting out and being locked out. There’s a bunch more bigger issues than people know about that have to be settled. We’re trying to do it for the better of the sport in the future, not for the short term of it.
“We want to make sure that we can get everything figured out and have it set up so even guys five or 10 years from now have a better foundation.”
While Bettman was meeting with the media in New York on Thursday, Calgary general manager Jay Feaster was posing for pictures with golfers on the 10th tee at the Links of GlenEagles.
Afterwards, Feaster said he’s hoping for the best in regards to the battle between the owners and the players.
“We remain optimistic,” Feaster said. “That’s all we can do. We’re set for camp. As (Calgary coach) Bob Hartley said, ‘We can start at 2 o’clock this afternoon.’ We’re ready to go. We’ll just wait and see what happens with the negotiations.”
After working hard in the off-season to sign free agents like forward Jiri Hudler and defenceman Dennis Wideman, Feaster would like nothing more than to see the issue resolved in time to open training camp on Sept. 21.
“We like the moves we made in the off-season. We like the free agents we signed,” Feaster said. “We’re excited about a kid like Sven Baertschi coming in trying to make our hockey club and a guy like T.J. Brodie. We’re obviously excited about all that stuff and our new coaching staff. We have a lot of reasons to be anxious to get going and we just hope that we get going on time.”