A pretty crappy situation - that was Keaton Ellerby's summarization of the NHL's ongoing lockout.
As the league announced more cancellations of games through to Dec. 14th, as well as the annual all-star weekend in February, Ellerby and a handful of fellow locked-out players were passing the time in Kelowna and preparing for a Movember curling fundraiser for prostate cancer tonight. Ellerby, Luke Schenn, Blake Comeau, Brent Seabrook, Wade Redden and Jordin Tootoo, plus former NHL player turned local real-estate agent Todd Simpson, will be hitting a different sheet of ice alongside their significant others this evening, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kelowna Curling Club.
When they will be returning to their regular arenas remains to be seen - and it's past the point of predictions, with the entire NHL season now in jeopardy.
"I have no clue," Ellerby deadpanned on Thursday, 24 hours after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and team owners rejected the Players Association's latest comprehensive proposal. "After (Wednesday), I really have no idea, but hopefully sooner than later.
"It's disappointing to see it get shut down so fast," Ellerby continued. "But we just have to stay positive and stick together, keep doing what we've been doing and not waiver at all - just stick to what we think is best for the players. Hopefully we can meet at a middle ground and get some work done, get the ball rolling a little bit."
With no formal negotiations planned for the weekend as both sides regroup, that traction will need to occur in the coming days for any shot at salvaging a shortened season.
"It's just a roller-coaster ride," said Schenn, a former Kelowna Rockets defenceman who was traded from Toronto to Philadelphia during the off-season. "One day you're so hopeful and you're optimistic, and the next day it's kind of a little bit frustrating."
Despite the uncertainty, Schenn is content with staying in Kelowna and continuing to skate and train with this group of players as opposed to seeking employment overseas.
"I'm definitely itching to get back on the ice for real," Schenn said. "But as far as going to Europe or something, I'm not really thinking about it too, too hard right now. I'm just going to stick around here and hope for the best, hope that a deal gets made sooner than later."
With Ellerby, 24, and Schenn, 23, and both being former first-round NHL draft picks, they are among those who stand to benefit the most from the next collective bargaining agreement. A breakout season in the years to come could land them lucrative long-term contracts, and that's worth presently holding out for the best possible deal.
"For some of us young guys who have a little bit of time left in our career, this is a big deal for us," said Ellerby, a Florida Panthers defenceman formerly of the Kamloops Blazers and Moose Jaw Warriors. "We need to get the best, obviously for both sides, but we want the best for our side as well.
"I have full trust and full faith in (NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr). The man is a genius when it comes to what he does, and all of us believe in what he's doing for us."
Ellerby and Co. got to know Fehr this summer when Kelowna hosted NHLPA meetings at The Delta Grand Okanagan hotel. That was back in August when fan anticipation was still for a full 82-game season and nobody had hit the panic button yet.
Since then, some players have started getting antsy - most notably 38-year-old Roman Hamrlik, who earlier this week sounded off on wanting to get the best deal available right now and return to playing, having already suffered through three work stoppages in his NHL career.
Ellerby steered clear of Hamrlik's comments, but admitted this lockout has extended longer than some expected.
"Yes and no," Ellerby said on whether he's surprised by the length. "Right from the start, it's been pretty hard-nosed (in negotiations). We're just sticking together and that's been our goal from Day 1, to be a unified group, and things are going to work out in the end.
"Hopefully it can be a little more give-and-take. We don't want to wait any longer than we have to, but we're not just going to give in to everything that the (owners) want. We want what's best for us, too."
On a lighter note, the players' wives and girlfriends are enjoying the lockout for the extra time with their partners.
"Absolutely, it's always nice to have him around 24-7," said Lauren Ellerby. "I could never (get sick of him) . . . but it would be nice to see him out playing on the ice again, and hopefully that will be on its way soon."
"It's really nice. We've been spending lots of time with family and stuff, but we'd obviously rather be (playing)," added Schenn's girlfriend, Jessica Peczek.
Until then, these players will stand pat and be grateful to the Rockets' organization for allowing them to practice with the team and use the facilities at Prospera Place to remain in game-shape should the lockout be settled in the near future.
"We'd rather be playing, but the Rockets have been awesome to us," Schenn said. "There's obviously a few other NHLers around Kelowna, so we're making the best out of it.
"For me, personally, Toronto was awesome and it was a great four years there, but I'm definitely looking forward to moving on. And with my brother (Brayden) being in Philadelphia, it's pretty exciting to be a part of that going forward."