Hockey news is scarce around the end of June, so a tirade from Jeremy Roenick fills the hole nicely. Last Saturday, the Flyers' center took a shot at fans who blame the players for the NHL lockout.
"If people are going to sit and chastise pro athletes for being cocky - for being suck asses - they need to look at one thing and that's the deal we're going to be signing in about three weeks," he said. "Pro athletes are not cocky. Pro athletes care about the game. Everybody out there who calls us spoiled because we play a game - they can kiss my ass."
"I will say personally, personally, to everybody who calls us spoiled - you guys are just jealous... We're trying to get this thing back on the ice and make it better for the fans. If you don't realize that, then don't come. We don't want you in the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey."
The next day Roenick was back in the news, claiming he was quoted out of context. And it justs gets more boring from there.
The tempest will pass in a few days. But it's a good reminder to Gary Bettman about the new dynamic he has created. Bettman and the NHL owners invested several years in a cynical campaign to paint hockey players as greedy, privileged fat cats. It worked nicely, as most fans stayed happily ignorant of the core issues in the labor dispute, bought into the myth that it was all about achieving competitive balance, and simply decided they had no sympathy for a bunch of millionaire jocks.
Is it any wonder that the NHL's new era of "partnership" begins with an angry and resentful work force?