Why should NHL players apologize for anything?

Bruce Bennett

OK, I get it. Some of you are peeeeeeeee-ohed.

You're ticked at Gary Bettman because the NHL's bobbleheaded boss took your cherished game hostage (for the third time).

You're ticked at billionaire NHL owners because they put padlocks on their rinks in order to save themselves from themselves.

You're ticked at millionaire NHL players because they're greedy, self-indulgent cads who live the good life and you don't.

I don't blame you. After all, you've been denied four months of fun things like Illya Bryzgalov talking about bears in the forest, John Tortorella sparring with media "idiots," and the national pastime of poking fun at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So now that a ceasefire has been established after 113 days of schoolyard squabbling, you figure it's payback time. They (NHL/NHLPA) owe you. They owe you free hotdogs. They owe you free beer. They owe you free parking. They owe you free Jets TV. They owe you free NHL Center Ice. They owe you free home games. They owe you, at the very least, an apology. And if you don't get it, you just might boycott.

Well, you've received your mea culpa. Many times.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have taken time out from counting their $10 million signing bonuses to say sorry.

Ryan Miller has stopped sniping at Bettman long enough to say he's sorry.

"It is hard to feel overly happy or satisfied with the result because of the way in which we arrived at an agreement. I am still embarrassed that we players have such a poor relationship with our league as a whole," Miller said. "It is so poor that we wasted 34 games for each club and have alienated our fans and sponsors. An apology doesn't really help right now but I would like to start somewhere with our fans, especially in Buffalo. I am sorry."

Matt Stajan is sorry. Milan Lucic is sorry. Andrew Ference is sorry (mostly because his grandparents "missed so much hockey."

Why, I haven't heard this much grovelling since Bill Clinton finally fessed up about Monica Lewinsky.

For his part, Ference didn't stop at a mere mea culpa. The Boston Bruins defenceman vowed that he and his NHLPA brethren will now "play our hearts out for you."

So you're thinking: Isn't that awful big of them? The players aren't going to just mail it in during their upcoming 48-game season. They're going to play hard. Really, really hard. They're actually going to earn what's left of their million-dollar stipends after sitting around and twiddling their thumbs for 113 days. Andrew Ference of the Boston Bruins says so.

The thing is, I really don't know why NHL players are apologizing in the wake of their yet-to-be-signed truce with the NHL.

Exactly what crime did the players commit? Did they go on strike? No. They were locked out. Just like you.

Sorry, kids, but the NHL's sheets were soiled by Bettman and the owners. They started the lockout, they scripted it, they orchestrated it. And when the "cattle" refused to retreat to the pre-Bobby Hull/WHA days of unchallenged serfdom and strict obedience to the land barons, Bettman and the boys huffed and puffed and tried to blow the NHLPA house down. Good luck with that.

Yes, the players dug in their heels. I don't blame them.

If the NHL was in fiscal free fall, it was not of the players' doing. The players don't determine their market value. The owners/GMs do. Shea Weber didn't demand that the Philadelphia Flyers offer him a 14-year, $110-million contract that included four $13 million signing bonuses? Did the aforementioned Suter and Parise each demand $98 million from Minnesota Wild bankroll Craig Leipold, a man who cries poor?

Bottom line? The owners broke the system and demanded that the players to fix it with an assortment of give-backs. And the players did give back. Some.

So let's not hear any more about NHL players owing anybody anything. Other than an honest night's work once the puck is dropped, that is.

If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.

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