It’s the owners’ fault!
That’s Rangers great Brian Leetch’s take on the NHL lockout.
“It makes me shake my head,” the 44-year-old former defenseman told The Post yesterday in New Rochelle, where he signed autographs as part of Steiner Sports Marketing and Memorabilia’s 25th anniversary event.
“I was involved in the last one, where basically the owners broke the union and were able to get a deal they believed was fair, changed the whole structure of the system. And now to be in this again, where they are basically trying to redo it again and hammer the union, it’s disappointing.
“The fans gets taken for granted now,” he added. “I just think they’re getting taken advantage of in this situation.”
Mike Richter, Leetch’s longtime teammate who also was at Steiner Sports’ headquarters, was more diplomatic. He understands the owners’ side of not wanting to go further into debt, which many have claimed under the current financial model.
“If I’m an owner and I’m losing money under the present circumstances, I’m going to say, ‘look, we have to change it,’ ” he said. “You’d think you could’ve come to this point before you start hurting the league, before the season started. Of course nothing really seems to get done before the 11th hour. For me, it was in August. For them, it might be last actual moment, which could be the start of the new year. Part of getting a deal is compromise. Both sides have to bite the bullet, probably accept things they normally wouldn’t want and figure it out.’’
Richter, 46, also is optimistic a deal will eventually get done before the season is lost.
“I think they have to and I think they will,” Richter said. “There’s too much at stake. ... I don’t think the players have a lot of upside for waiting and I know the league doesn’t, either. ... The bottom line is it’s a tremendous sport, they have a tremendous product on the ice. Nobody wants to see them lose time. If there’s enough NHL teams losing money, then you have to look at the business model and figure it out. I think the players are willing to do that.”