David Backes has been in attendance at most of the NHL/NHLPA meetings as a concerned player. Widely regarded as an intelligent interview and someone with a good head on his shoulders, it makes sense for Backes to have been called upon to help work towards a solution to the NHL's lockout. With the first two weeks of the season gone, players aren't feeling optimistic about an end -- if the owners are ok with two weeks being toast, how would they feel about the season being gone?
It's plainly obvious how Backes feels. In an interview with ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, he and teammate Andy McDonald seemed less than optimistic that something positive is waiting in the wings.
"I should be at dinner in Denver right now instead of walking down a street in Times Square," Backes told ESPN.com Wednesday night.
"It’s frustrating for everyone," Backes added. "But they’re where they’re at with the heels dug in, we’re got our heels dug in; it’s a patience game right now."
Backes, a member of the NHLPA’s negotiating committee, still sees a chance to play hockey this season.
"I have not succumbed to the notion that there’s not going to be a season," he said. "But at the same time, I was in the room all day today ... From where it sits right now, it’s not looking like we need to be skating five days a week and getting ready for a camp anytime soon."
Talk about cautiously un-optimistic. It does seem like it's a battle of who will crack first, though -- will the players cave or will the owners? The players obviously have their livelihoods to lose, but it is telling that they're willing to hang in for the long haul for this. It's less a battle about money and more a battle about principle.
Andy McDonald is not currently in New York -- he's in St. Louis where he's been practicing on-ice with teammates to keep in shape. Does he feel there to be an end in sight here? McDonald is as harsh on the NHL as deputy commissioner Bill Daly has been publicly regarding the players:
"To me, it’s difficult to see how a deal is going to get done when it doesn’t appear that we have a negotiating partner," McDonald said. "Their first proposal was so offensive to the players that it’s not even like they’re willing to make concessions for the sake of the league. And that’s the tough part; the players understand there’s a revenue disparity among the teams and are willing to make some changes and make some concessions based on that fact. But the league doesn’t seem to be willing to do that at this point. So I don’t know how a deal happens. The players aren’t going to keep giving back and giving back without concessions on their part."
Backes is just as concerned about momentum as the Blues fans are. With The Hockey News choosing the Blues to finish best in the Western Conference, some of what was accomplished last season is going to be diminished the more the team is forced to sit around.
"That hit home this week when I was listening to the radio and someone picked up [we were] first in the West," Backes said. "We do have a great team in St. Louis and momentum in a city that’s had to go through a rebuild. And now we’re ready to reap those fruits from the struggling times. We had a fan base that sold out a record number of games last year. To not be able to continue that momentum, with a new ownership group in St. Louis, for all the support we have from fans and corporate sponsors -- that’s just killing everybody."
Here's hoping it hasn't killed the Blues' momentum.