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Skaters discuss lockout

January 31, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - At least one former professional hockey player who was in the Hagerstown area for an exhibition game Sunday had plenty of colorful words to described the lockout that has thwarted the 2004-05 National Hockey League season thus far.

But most of them can't be printed in a newspaper.

Philadelphia Flyers franchise alumni Frank "The Animal" Bialowas, Bob "The Hound" Kelly, Brian Propp and Joe Watson spoke candidly Sunday about the NHL's lockout and possibility of a canceled season.

"We're going to have to work really hard to get the fans back," Kelly said.

Today, the NHL lockout reaches its 138th day and more than half of the scheduled regular-season games will have been canceled, according to ESPN's Web site. Among the key sticking points is team owners' desire for a salary cap and the severe financial instability that has haunted several teams in recent years.

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Propp and Kelly each said the players' salaries have become too large for what the sport can financially handle.

"They (the owners) know they let it get out of control, signing guys for too much money," said Propp, who retired in 1995.

He estimated that the season will be canceled completely if a new agreement between players and the league is not reached within two weeks.

"We were never about the money, we were about playing the game," Kelly said.

"This generation of players has never given anything back to the game," Watson said. "It's always take, take, take."

Bialowas was clearly agitated by the lack of NHL hockey this year.

"Just play the games - that's all," he said.

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