Yeah, you’ve got one more thing to thank Gary ‘I hate hockey’ Bettman for.
In an interview with La Presse hockey scribe Marc Antoine Godin, Cole – who just might’ve been the Habs best player during that hellish last season – said he may just hang up his skates for good if this labour dispute continues to keep hockey in limbo.
“If the conflict keeps dragging on, I’m going to have to ask myself if I want to keep being part of this thing,” said a remarkably bitter-sounding Cole. “If the whole season is cancelled and that its return looks uncertain, I’m going to look toward Europe or maybe just simply retire. In any case, I’m going to think seriously about my future this summer. I’m not going to stay forever at the mercy of the owners.”
(That’s my translation, by the way. Hilariously enough, Cole obviously spoke to M. Godin in the language of Shutt, Godin translated it into the language of Lafleur and now I’m putting Cole’s words back into English.)
Those are fighting words and give you a pretty good sense of just how p.o.’d the players are with Bettman’s hardline union-busting attitude. If Cole were to retire, that would be an unmitigated disaster for the Canadiens given that the Pacioretty-Cole-Desharnais line was about the only good thing the team’s had going for it in the past 12 months.
I love Cole – and so do you. As someone you know might’ve said, Cole brings his lunch-bucket to the rink every night. He’s not the most talented guy – heck I don’t think he even knows how to stick-handle – but he just barrels up the side and bangs through anyone stupid enough to get in his way. And he scores goals, something in short supply on the Habs in the past couple of decades.
(An aside. What the eff is up with that? Why spend 25 years not bothering to go try to find goal-scorers for your team? But I digress. Let’s talk about that another day.)
Cole scored 35 goals and notched 26 assists last season, his first with the Habs, one of the few bright-lights on a seriously psychotic team. The left winger has three years left on his $18 million contract with the Habs.
Is he seriously thinking of retiring? Probably not. Hopefully not. But he did say this and so if you’re a Habs fan, you should be worried.
He also had something interesting to say about Habs owner Geoff Molson.
“I know we have an owner who’d rather see us playing hockey than lock us out,” said Cole.
He went on to say that yes he’d like to see Molson put some pressure on the owners to take a more moderate stance but he quite rightly noted that Bettman has set things up so he doesn’t need to worry about the cooler heads prevailing. He only needs the backing of eight owners and so he can keep the lock-out going indefinitely with the support of a small cabal of extremists.
But Cole was saying what many have been saying for months under their breath – Molson can’t like this lockout one bit. Instead of selling out 41 games at the largest arena in the league, he’s sitting twiddling his thumbs staring at 21,000 empty seats.