With drinks in hand and computer at the ready, New Jersey Devils forward Krys Barch made headlines over the weekend with his candid comments about the ongoing NHL lockout.
Barch unleashed a flurry of 140-character truth bombs, lashing out at NHL ownership while suggesting that he would have been better off existing in the Wild West, "when a word and a gun solidified and solved all problems."
With the lockout dragging into its third week and no end in sight - despite ongoing meetings between the league and the players' association - the NHL is on the verge of trimming the regular-season schedule after already axing the entire preseason. No substantive talks are planned, and both sides say the current discussions revolve around more minor issues.
Barch, like the vast majority of players involved in the dispute, would rather be on the ice than in the boardroom. So with the 32-year-old grinder admittedly "8 OV (beer) deep and starting a bottle of (Port)," Barch let his heart do the talking. Here are some of the highlights:
"My name is Kris Barch. I have played approx. 5 1/2 years in the NHL and have worked for every second of it. I Haven't been a 1st round pick, bonus baby or a son of a (Hall of Famer). I have made it through sweating, bleeding, cut Achilles, broken hands, concussions, broken orbital bones, 8 teeth knocked out, etc, etc, etc."
(Barch was a fourth-round pick of the Washington Capitals in 1998 but didn't break into the NHL until the Dallas Stars gave him a shot in 2006.)
"I sit here with both my boys sleeping and my wife due with our 3rd. My thoughts racing on what I can conquer tomorrow to get our family ahead. Some times wondering if I should have existed when a word and a gun solidified and solved all problems. I feel the Wild West would more simplified than the world we live in now whet an employer who makes billions of dollars and a league with record revenues can tell me that I can't do the things that my heart tells my me to do!"
(The biggest chasm between the owners and players revolves around how to split league revenues, which were at an all-time high in 2011-12.)
"I wonder if the owners of Boston, New York, Washington, etc, etc, have endured any of the injuries that I or any other player in the NHL have endured. Still they probably sit their smoking the same brand of cigar, sipping the same cognac, and going on vacation To one of five houses they own.... While we sit here knowing they want to take 20% of our paychecks."
(To Barch, who makes just above the league minimum, a 20-per-cent rollback would mean forfeiting $150,000 in salary.)
"The only way to stop the work stoppages long into the future is fix the root cause of the problems. The lockout Is a procedure to take from the players to pay for the NHL mistakes. (Let's) not allow the NHL to make any (more) mistakes."
Barch concludes by saying, "Like me or hate me, I speak what comes from my heart!" - and those words have stirred some controversy. National Post writer Michael Traikos suggests that Barch has done himself no favors by sounding off, referring to him as "another millionaire crying poor."
Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynskireferred to the rambling as a "Jerry Maguire moment," an apt nod to Tom Cruise's meltdown-turned-epiphany as a sports agent in the movie of the same name.
While Barch may have been just speaking his mind, he isn't going to win over an already fickle fan base that appears to be far more angry about this lockout than the last one. He may have meant well, but Barch probably should have turned off his computer and finished drowning his sorrows instead.