Bruins players afraid NHL ‘almost becoming a joke’

There are a few different things that the NHL owners have always preyed on while handing out work stoppages like Halloween candy over the last 20 years under the leadership of Commissioner Gary Bettman.

They’ve always been able to break the backs of the players’ association at a critical juncture of the negotiations, and then take advantage of an NHLPA that couldn’t scramble to remain unified. They’ve always been able to count on the hockey diehards forgiving, forgetting and returning as ticket-buying consumers no matter how much the NHL plays the role of the abusive spouse.

In the end the NHL has also always taken full advantage of the individual hockey players, and their deep-rooted concern for the health and well-being of the league that they love so profoundly. That aforementioned concern with damaging the game was front-and-center while chatting with the players after their second lockout practice at Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center on Tuesday afternoon.

“We hoped it wouldn’t be as confrontational as the last time around, but obviously that wasn’t the same sentiment on the other side,” said B’s Andrew Ference, a former NHLPA players rep that takes a keen interest in CBA negotiations. “We’re getting into this rut where we’re almost a joke. Every few years we’ve got to revisit the same thing. One year it’s explained one way, and one year it’s explained another way.