With a potential lockout looming, it's becoming increasingly more difficult for Buffalo forward Steve Ott to remain hopeful.
Raring to go with his new team - the Sabres - after an offseason trade from Dallas, Ott spoke with cautious optimism on Monday before a golf outing benefiting the Buffalo Sabres Foundation. He wants to play. He can't wait to play. But he knows that might not happen.
For a while.
''It's tough,'' said Ott, who was obtained from the Stars in July for forward Derek Roy. ''The players are looking for a fair deal. We want to play, and we want to get going. I think every single guy is ready to go. It would be a complete shame if the doors are locked by ownership.''
After the entire 2004-05 season was lost due to labor struggles, the NHL is heading toward another work stoppage. The collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15. And for players who are looking to make fresh starts on new teams - like Ott - any delay makes it that much harder to get acclimated.