Players, owners vie for public support

Players, owners vie for public support
September 15, 2012, 9:18 pm
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Capitals right wing Joel Ward lives in Scarborough,Ontario, a working-class suburb of Toronto where hockey is,well, everything.Ward cannot go to a sandwich shop or a gas station or abarber shop without hearing about how fans feel about an NHL lockout, whichofficially went into effect at midnight on Saturday.Everywhere you turneverybody wants to talk about it, Ward said. The fans just want to seehockey, especially in Toronto.Its a Leafs town. They dont care how its resolved. When the fall comes itshockey season, so this is disappointing.Inevitably, fans will take sides in labor disputes and thisone is no different. The owners want the players share of league revenue tofall from the current 57 percent to 49 percent.The players say they are willing to slow the growth offuture salaries and have a plan to help the leagues financially strugglingteams, but are refusing rollbacks on their current contracts.Im definitely for the players, said Fred Welker, a Capitalsseason ticket holder for 23 years. Taking a pay cut just seems so ridiculous tome. If you sign a contract for a million dollars in 2008 and all of a suddenthey start slapping it down, its just not right.Sonja Jones of Owens Mills, Md., has been a Caps fan since2005. She is also siding with the players, but for a different reason.I like the fact they are willing to give up the money the ownerswant as long as it goes towards clubs that need it, she said. I definitelycommend them for that. Theyre not being greedy about it. They want to play,but they want all of the teams to be successful and not just the big-marketteams. I like that a lot.Jean Williams of Hershey, Pa., may have echoed the feelings of many hockey fansacross North America as they ponder a Septemberwithout the NHL.Im not taking sides, she said. I just want hockey.