Photo Credit: Danny Moloshok, REUTERS
Cory Schneider has made eloquence a habit, and when he appears on Toucher and Rich – a Boston area Drive-Time Sports Radio Program – the results have historically been particularly entertaining. He was on their show again on Thursday morning, and unsurprisinngly he made some cogent points about the collective bargaining negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA, the prospect of playing in Europe and getting fat during the lockout.
Read past the jump for more.
Below is a recap of the interview, but if you want to listen to Schneider’s segment in full you can do so here.
As a Canucks and Blue Jays fan, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who dislikes Boston sports media more than I do. But Toucher and Rich are an excellent sports talk radio team: they are usually highly amusing and well informed. An example: to introduce the interview, one of them says that they’re joined by Cory Schneider live from "Vancouver British Columbia, home of Nardwuar the Human Serviette." Now Nardwuar is both hilarious and also a friend of the blog, so kudos to whichever one of Toucher and Rich made that reference.
Right off the bat, Toucher and Rich ask Cory Schneider about whether or not we should see something ominous in his forthcoming plans play in Europe and the fact that he’s a player rep for the NHLPA. "Those two things don’t bode well… Am I doing the math correctly?"
"Probably not a good sign. Obviously – Gary – was pessimistic yesterday as well. But for me, Gary mentioned a week long preseason before the season would start if we were to get 82 games in, and as a goalie I need more than a week to get ready. I think I need to see a few games before we start playing. So it’s not the end of the world, but if this is going to take a few more weeks or a month, then I’ve got to start to getting ready."
I find it interesting that Schneider seems to think that playing even a few weeks in Europe might help him stay sharp in lieu of training camp. I also find it amusing that he refers to Bettman as "Gary" and does so with a sardonic tone in his voice. Hilarious.
Schneider is then asked about the cost of insurance, and he responds like someone who isn’t all that serious about heading overseas to play frankly:
That’s a great question, I haven’t actually looked into the insurance and what it would cost for me. I don’t have a ten year deal like a Crosby or an Ovechkin – probably cost them a lot of money – but that’s probably something I should dig up and figure out here pretty soon"
Toucher and Rich react appropriately to Schneider’s answer, admonishing him with: "You’re a smart guy what’s wrong with you? You’ve gotta get this math done!" Schneider laughs and responds by blaming his laziness.
He’s then asked about Mr. Bettman’s rejection of the NHLPA’s latest three counter offers. His take on the NHL’s negotiating posture is, I think, very revealing:
It was pretty frustrating. As a group we feel like they’re on some sort of a timeline and a script, and that this has all been rehearsed and planned out ahead of time and looks very similar to what the NBA went through last year. So unfortunately it wasn’t much of a surprise, but at the same time we’re trying to give them back hundreds of millions of dollars and they’re still saying "no it’s not good enough." And on top of that they’re trying to limit our free-agency rights and our contracting rights as well!
So it’s not only us trying to give them back money, but they’re trying to limit when we become a free agent and they’re still just saying "no not good enough talk to us when you have something to say regarding our deal." For the players we want to negotiate, we want to work something out and they’re basically saying "if it isn’t off our deal then don’t bother talking."
The context of the last lockout is critical in these labour negotiations. While Bettman thinks the deal was "more fair" than maybe it ought to have been, the players see themselves as having "give in" at a time when the league was desperate and they see no reason to do so again now that the league is healthy.
Toucher and Rich push Schneider to elaborate on the NHL owners’ "timeline" and whether or not he has a firm idea for when hockey might return:
"We have guesses, we have ideas, but no one can really be sure except for them. They’ve picked odd times to throw their proposals out, and give ultimatums, and artificial deadlines. It’s something we have to take seriously – we have to take every deadline they give us seriously – but we feel like if you give us a "take it or leave" it offer a week before you want to save the season, that’s pretty counter productive.
If they really wanted to make this deal, then they would have made this offer months ago."
Reacting the the fact that Bruins roster players Patrice Bergeron and Tuuka Rask have sustained injuries while playing overseas, Toucher and Rich ask Schneider if this is concern he has for players on the Canucks who are playing overseas. They then proceed to have some fun with the idea of Dale Weise getting high in Holland. Here’s the exchange:
Schneider: "It’s weird you say that, because we only have one guy on our entire team and he’s in Holland I think, in some league over there."
T&R: "He’s only going to hurt his lungs man! Sorry I interrupted you for an awful joke."
Schneider: "No, no it was a good joke. It’s definitely a concern, we’re all pretty hopeful which is why no one has headed over there yet. But it’s a huge concern for some guys I’ve talked too, because they see a guy on the Devils broke his ankle blocking the shot, and if this thing does end they can suspend you without pay it’s all in your contract while you’re injured. So it’s definitely a concern for some guys and like you said with the insurance thing – if it’s a tonne of money to get your deal covered it’s sort of counter-productive to go over there."
The talk then turns back to the NHL lockout, as Toucher and Rich ask Schneider whether or not, now that the NHLPA has "acquiseced" to a fifty-fifty spit, the main disagreement is about how the two sides get there. Schneider’s answer:
"More or less. As players we just don’t see the need to go backwards. The owners keep saying they need to lower our salaries and pay us less immediately. I think as players, they sign us to contracts and we think they should honour those. I think if we came into meetings and demanded they release us from our contracts, that it wouldn’t go over so well.
When they’re coming off record revenues and the game is growing and everything seems great – for them to want to say we need to go backwards immediately – it just doesn’t make sense to us. So we’re trying to find ways where we can stay hole while giving money back to them.
So upfront we’d like to honour our contracts and then over the next couple years as we continue to grow the game we’ll head to fifty-fifty. So that way they’re saving money the more they grow the game, but for whatever reason they seem really pessimistic about their growth possibilities and they don’t see that as a viable alternatively – they want to go to fifty-fifty right away."
Asked whether or not he’s optimistic about the two sides reaching a deal over the next couple of weeks, Schneider is critical of the NHL and compares their response to the NHLPA’s most recent proposals to a reaction one might usually associate with an entitled child:
"I’m hoping so. And it’s not honestly just them coming to their senses it’s just having room to negotiate. We’re willing to negotiate further and we think they should be willing to negotiate further. I don’t think it’s all the owners, I don’t think all 30 owners are out there pounding their first, I think there’s a group in Gary’s ear who are obviously leading the charge, and for whatever reason this is how’ve they decided to deal with it. They’ve done it every time for the past 20 years, they just decide to lock us out and see what happens.
I think we’re just too close, there’s just too much good things going on with the game that I don’t think either side wants this thing to shutdown for the year. I think there’s definitely a deal to be made there, it’s just about coming somewhere to meet and actually talking about things instead of just crossing your arms and going home if you don’t get what you want"
Finally, Toucher and Rich ask Schneider which of his teammates he’s most worried about getting fat during the lockout. Schneider gives a coy non-answer, while admitting that this subject is joked about among his Canucks teammates. Toucher and Rich meanwhile, milk another opportunity to make fun of Dale Weise getting high in Holland:
T&R exchange: "Are there players getting fat?" "The dude in Holland is eating his weight in space cakes!" "How are the Sedin twins?"
Schneider: "It’s not the Sedin twins [who are going to get fat] those guys are machines they can work out for hours.
I’ve got a couple of guys in mind, we’ve actually been talking about that: "who is going to be the most out of shape, fattest guy when the lockout ends." And a few names have come up but I won’t share that.
Dollars to donuts (lots of donuts), the "fattest" Canucks skater when the lockout ends is going to Mason Raymond. Book it.
Once again, you can listen to the interview in full at the CBS Boston website.