Wings' trio 'hypocrites' for playing in minors
Minor-league goal king blasts locked-out players who will play in
UHL 'for nothing'
By ERIC DUHATSCHEK
Wednesday, February 2, 2005 -
Not everyone is enamoured of the fact that three locked-out Detroit
Red Wings players -- Chris Chelios, Kevin Hatcher and Kris Draper --
signed yesterday to play with the Motor City Mechanics of the United
Kevin Kerr of the Flint Generals, who became the top career goal
scorer in the minor leagues, said it was hypocritical for highly paid
National Hockey League players to play in the low minors.
"It's a joke, literally a joke," Kerr said.
"Here they are, fighting the NHL for more money and they'll come down
to our league and play for free. It makes no sense. They're a bunch
of hypocrites. For one thing, I can't believe our league would even
allow them to come in and play. Obviously, the NHL can't stop them
"I don't know much about the lockout, or what even they're arguing
about, but for them to come down to our league, I think they're
basically shooting themselves in the foot. They're showing they just
want to play hockey, so they'll play for nothing. It's absolutely
The UHL, formerly the Colonial Hockey League, is one of the lowest
levels of minor-league hockey in North America, sitting two rungs
below the American Hockey League (the NHL's primary development
league) and one below the ECHL (which feeds players to the AHL).
Motor City, a first-year UHL expansion franchise, is in last place
overall in the 14-team league and scheduled to play Kerr's team,
Flint, on the road tonight.
Yesterday, reporters asking Kerr for reaction got an earful.
"I can tell you this, not one guy on our team is going to give them
any respect," Kerr said. "They'll be getting an earful from guys
telling them how they feel about what they're doing down here.
They're not going to get any sympathy from anybody around here."
Under UHL rules, a team can dress only seven players with more than
280 games of professional hockey experience, meaning three players on
Motor City's roster will have to sit out -- and risk getting cut --
as soon as Draper, Chelios and Hatcher go into the lineup. Chelios
has 1,395 games of NHL experience, Hatcher 842 and Draper 724.
Of the three, Chelios was paid the most last season -- $5.9-million
(all figures U.S.). Hatcher received $5-million and Draper $1.45-
"They've taken three veteran guys' jobs at an average of $500, or
$600 or $700 a week," Kerr said. "Now, where are these guys going to
play? I just don't get it.
"They don't understand that guys down here get between $12,000 and
$25,000 a year, plus their housing and some living expenses.
"What these guys [locked-out NHL players] make in a day, we make in a
year, and here they come and want to take away our guys' livelihood
at this level. It just doesn't make sense."
Kerr said he expected the three NHL players to find the adjustment
more difficult than they think.
"They're used to guys being in the right spot at the right time," he
said. "At our level, you've got young guys who are all over the
place. In some ways, it's harder to play here than in the NHL. The
mentality of younger players isn't what it is at the NHL level. They
could actually look stupid."
Hatcher is expected to play for Motor City tonight, while Chelios and
Draper are scheduled to make their debuts on Friday in a home game
against the first-placed Rockford IceHogs. Motor City plays its home
games at the Great Lakes Sports City Arena in Fraser, Mich., just
north of Detroit, so the presence of Red Wings players figures to be
boffo for the box office. For Friday's game, Motor City is expecting
a sellout of 3,300. The team had been averaging about 1,500 a game.
"I don't know if it's a publicity stunt or what," Kerr said, "but I
was in our merchandise office [yesterday] and there was one lady
standing there who bought 20 tickets for the game.
"She said it was her first time to a Flint Generals game and she was
coming only because the Red Wings were playing.
"That's the scary part. Some people will support it, but I think
anybody who knows anything about hockey would stay away and
say, 'We're not supporting this because this isn't right.'
"Somebody was saying today, 'They just want to play because they have
a passion for the game.' Well, you know what? Go start your own
league. Go get all your buddies together and play pickup hockey once
or twice a week, and leave everybody else alone."