Leave it to a former great to inject some sense into the NHL lockout talk.
Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr was on hand at the Hockey Hall of Fame on Friday to unveil a new 3D video featuring some of his feats and didn’t hold back when asked about the ongoing lockout, which is now in its 56th day.
His message? The silliness has to end before they do irreparable damage to the game.
“They have to accept that responsibility to sit down and get a deal done,” Orr said. “Shame on them if they don’t do that.”
Orr went on to say that what many don’t realize is how a lockout hurts so many people associated with the game beyond players and owners, from restaurant workers to those who help put on the games.
For their sake, he hopes the lockout doesn’t last a full season, as it did in 2004-05.
“How could it not hurt us?” Orr said of wiping out a full season. “I mean, there are the owners and the players, but think about some of the other people. Even the Hall of Fame, they’re being hurt by this. You go to the buildings, the restaurants and so on, the shops around them - it’s more than just the players and the owners. There’s a lot of people hurt by this lockout.
“I don’t know [if there’ll be] long-term damage if we get it going. I think we can get it going. But anytime there’s a lockout, there’s damage. You’ve got to hope your fans come back. I think they will. But to even think about losing a season, that would hurt.”
Orr admitted on Friday that he’s not exactly the most unbiased party in negotiations, as his player agency, The Orr Hockey Group, represents more than a dozen NHL stars (including the three Staal brothers, Jason Spezza, Cam Ward and Taylor Hall) and as such backs the NHLPA side of the talks.
The 64-year-old Hall of Famer was mobbed by fans coming out of the newly christened TSN Theatre where he was joined former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ron Ellis and other hockey royalty to watch the 20-minute “Stanley’s Game Seven” production.
The video features 3D computerized versions of Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux carrying out some of their greatest manoeuvres, along with live action footage of young actors playing a pickup hockey game for the Stanley Cup.
“I thought it was great,” said Orr, who watched from the front row wearing 3D glasses as a digital version of himself scored his famous 1970 Cup-winning goal and appeared to come right out of the screen as he fell to the ice.
As for when the NHL will finally get back on the ice, Orr said he remains optimistic it’ll be relatively soon.
“I think maybe the first of December,” he said. “I hope they keep going and they keep talking. I said right from the beginning: Lock them in a room and stare [at each other] and make a deal...
“I think this [week] is the longest they’ve met... and I feel better about what I’m hearing now than I have the last few months.”