Hockey Hall of Famer and union pioneer Ted Lindsay on Wednesday defended the work of commissioner Gary Bettman during the lockout, saying players need to be more respectful in their comments.
"One thing that really has bothered me when I'm reading the paper on all of this is the way they're talking about 'that idiot Bettman', or any of the other stupid adjectives they've used to describe him," said Lindsay, 87. "They and the fans and the media need to realize that Bettman is doing his job and fulfilling his responsibility to the owners, just like (NHLPA executive director) Don (Fehr) is to the players. The players need to respect and understand that. Don't go bad-mouthing Bettman like that."
Lindsay, who was blackballed in the mid-1950s for laying the groundwork for the players' association, also disagreed with the way Washington Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik was treated recently when, in an interview with a Czech media outlet, he questioned the leadership of Fehr and suggested it was time to make a deal and play.
Lindsay agreed with Hamrlik that there should be a vote taken by the players.
"He was absolutely right," Lindsay said. "Every one of these players needs to realize the money they've lost, they will never get back in their lifetime. The front two lines of every team are the big money-earners and they're going to be fine no matter what, but the third- and fourth-liners or the guys like (Hamrlik) at the end of their career, they're going to feel it and I'm sure they are feeling it, so they should speak up."
Lindsay called on both the owners and the players to reach an agreement and urged the players to reconnect with the fans and remember their roots. He believes current NHL players want to preserve some portion of the regular season and hopes they can relate to anyone else who wants to see an end to the lockout.
"We love our game," Lindsay said. "We're all basically small-towners across Canada, across the United States and, now, across Europe as well. We want the best for our game, for the players and for the owners but most of all for the game, and we want that game back on the ice. You know what, really at this point it doesn't matter whether it's players or owners or who knows who is right and wrong. The damage they're both doing to hockey right now bothers me so much."