I saw earlier today, the rumor (on several sites) that the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, in all his infinite wisdom, may consider using replacement players should the NHL remain in a lockout come November. This is extremely risky, even just to have it be a rumor.
There are thousands of hockey players in the world who want a shot at the NHL. I went to college with a few of them. Now, I went to a division III college. The guys who played for SUNY Fredonia were doing it to get a few extra years of hockey in. While covering the team, I asked the captain one year what made him choose SUNY Fredonia. He said that he wanted to get his degree, but also play hockey for a few more years. He had played in the junior leagues, didn’t get drafted, so he went to college. Our starting goalie was a back up for a division I school. He came to SUNY Fredonia so that he could be a starter and get the playing time he couldn’t at a division I school. The dream was the same regardless; play in the NHL. These players had just accepted that they weren’t going to make it and wanted to play a few more years for love of the game, before they hung them up.
I’m not saying that these guys would be the actual replacement players. They’re just examples of the fact that there are plenty of hockey players who would gladly step into the NHL players shoes.
So what message does replacement players send to the current players who have been locked out?