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Shades of Gretzky’s 99 All-Stars vs the Detroit Vipers in 95? It could happen again during a lockout

Back in 1994, during the first owners’ lockout, Red Wings fans were hockey-starved to say the least. I remember eventually attending a chunk of the Wings’ impromptu training camp at the Joe and being gobsmacked by—get this—Pavel Agarkov’s talent, and enjoying a, “Wow” moment as I stood on the Joe’s concrete floor as Scotty Bowman had the entire team taking a lap, and I remember feeling the ground beneath me shudder and shake as 20-some players skated to an elegant stop and Bob Errey stood six inches from my face on the other side of the boards…

But my best “first lockout” memory involves Wayne Gretzky’s 99 All-Stars playing against the Detroit Vipers at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Mike Ilitch and Bill Davidson still couldn’t stand each other at the time, so Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman and Paul Coffey had to skip the game, but their games against Jokerit Helsinki (rocking the purple-and-green day-glo uniforms) and several other European pro teams were televised on the CBC, and to have Gretzky, Brett Hull, Marty McSorely, Rick Tocchet, Grant Fuhr, Rob Blake, Kirk Muller, Al MacInnis and someone who played over 35 minutes for a defensive corps down to 4 men against the Vipers in Todd Gill, all playing in front of me and my high school pals against a Vipers team bolstered by two rookie pros in Miroslav Satan and Petr Sykora…

It was nothing less than awesome, and Pro Hockey Talk’s Mike Halford found that Sportsnet’s John Shannon’s been told that the NHLPA plans on holding a similar exhibition series if there is a lockout:

With a lockout looming larger, the National Hockey League Players’ Association is quietly making plans for a series of star-studded exhibition games should the NHL shut down this fall.

Sources tell Sportsnet’s John Shannon that games between a team of Russian all-stars from the Kontinental Hockey League and “world” all-stars from the NHL are tentatively set for Moscow, Halifax and Quebec City, as well as an undetermined site in Southern Ontario. Donald Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, spoke with representatives of the Russian league while overseas last week.

On Thursday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said NHL owners would lock out players if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by Sept. 15, when the current agreement expires. Talks continue between the two sides, but both Fehr and Bettman said Thursday there is a wide gap between the two sides’ positions. The NHL presented a proposal last month that called for a reduction of the players’ share of revenues from 57 per cent to 46 per cent. The PA is expected to present a counter-proposal on Tuesday.

The NHLPA would neither confirm nor deny it is making any such plans for exhibitions.

“We are focused on making our proposal next week and getting a deal done before Sept. 15,” NHLPA spokesperson Jonathan Weatherdon said via email. “We have no comment on events that may occur after that date.”

The thought of a lockout still makes me ill, but to know that the PA plans on thumbing its nose at the NHL by joining forces with the KHL to give fans at least something to watch and attend is a good thing.

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Primis's avatar

George, if there’s a lockout fans aren’t going to care for anything having to do with NHL teams *or* players.  It’s just too soon.  Too soon since the last one.

That they don’t seem to get that (either side) boggles me.  Apparently their plan to finally split the money involves losing a bunch of revenue they will never gain back.

Posted by Primis on 08/11/12 at 12:59 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Heck, I’d watch it.  I wouldn’t be happy about the circumstances, but I’d watch it.

I remember last lockout, Comcast aired Igor Larionov’s retirement game.  Think the Red Wings (plus a couple of alums) vs. Russia’s all-stars at the time.  It was fantastic.  Yzerman switched jerseys for the third, scoring goals for both team Wings and Russia.  So cool.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 08/11/12 at 03:21 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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