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No contracts, no certainty: Blue Jackets still in limbo



Published: Thu, July 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Many players are reserving celebration until the agreement is ratified.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- Some Blue Jackets players were cautious after hearing that the NHL and the players' association reached an agreement in principle on Wednesday that would end the 301-day lockout that wiped out last season.

"We're kind of just sitting in limbo," said defenseman Luke Richardson, reserving his celebration until the new collective bargaining agreement has been ratified by both sides.

Jaroslav Spacek, a defenseman who has been playing in the Czech Republic, said he is uncertain of his future with the Blue Jackets. His contract has expired, and he's waiting to hear from his agent about a renewal.

"It's tough if you don't have a contract," he said. "I hope it comes soon."

Coach Gerard Gallant said he doesn't foresee any problems with renewing contracts or getting players back who played overseas last year because of the lockout. He expects training camp to start in early September.

But final word on contracts and practice logistics will have to come from general manager Doug MacLean, who is waiting until the agreement is ratified to set plans in motion.

Money matters

Larry Baumgartner, 46, of suburban Hilliard, said he hopes the club will cut ticket prices in the upcoming season.

Baumgartner has held season tickets since the Blue Jackets started playing in 2000 and was miffed with the cancelation of last year's season.

"Hockey sustains you through the winter here," he said. "Last winter was pretty tough."

Because of the lockout, Richardson expects an explosive start to this year's games. He said he hopes the fans will have that same level of energy.

But Chris Halvorson, 33, of suburban Powell, said it was discouraging to see cities such as Columbus stymied by the lockout after pumping money into building up a hockey fan base.

"I am disappointed that it took this long to reach an agreement that didn't get them very far," he said.




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