Unless there are secret talks going on in the basement of a New York City hotel, it doesn’t appear that the start of the season will happen on time. As far as I’m concerned, we probably won’t see any hockey until mid to late November at the earliest, and likely by December in order to save the Winter Classic. Unless of course the Bettman’s pull that game from the negotiating table. That being said, there has been a noticeable amount of movement by players signing contracts to play in Europe. You can take one of three ways. 1) a player just wants to play, and feels that Europe is his best option to keep their skills from deteriorating since they may feel that a reasonable solution to the lockout won’t be found anytime soon. 2) It’s all about the money. 3) Please refer to number 2.
You can track the activity by heading over to Elite Prospects.com, which will show not only players that officially have signed, but also rumors of where players may be going. As I took a very quick glance at this list I find one very common theme among those heading overseas. Many, if not a majority of the players are European. Sure, makes sense to play for your home country right? Or at least as close to it as you can get. Maybe your girlfriend, wife or family lives there and this gives you an opportunity to be close to them while you play. As we all read this past week Alexander Ovechkin was very vocal on the situation as it pertains to him. Ovechkin who joined Dynamo Moscow was reported as saying that if the players are forced to take a paycut, he’ll stay in the KHL for good. Is this a threat to the league, or is the flashy forward speaking out of the other side of his mouth? Taking this sentiment one step further, one wonders if this is just a selfish move by Ovechkin, and some of the other players who are well paid here in North America, but leaving for “the money”.
Pro Hockey Talk included a video of Jeremy Roenick responding to Ovechkin’s threats and JR, who has never been afraid to say what’s on his mind doesn’t believe what Alex is saying. He goes on to say that Alex makes way too much money here and will never make the same amount in Europe, in addition to the fact that Alex won’t be in the limelight that he loves to be in so much here in the states.
There is obviously the international “attraction” for many of these players who are leaving, however I also see a number of players who at least have not yet decided to play, and for some such as Jarome Iginla, it’s not even an option. Other top NHL stars such as Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, and our own Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers have not made any commitment to play overseas, and are apparently going to wait things out at this point. I don’t begrudge a player for wanting to “play”, as no one wants to miss any ice time. Jason Spezza on the other hand will be making virtually nothing while playing in Sweden, as his insurance fees will run him somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000. Spezza is quoted in this Ottawa Sun article that he is “pretty much going over for free, just to keep playing”.
The lockout is creating a divided line more than it did last time. The previous work stoppage was mostly about the salary cap. Now it’s about the cap, contract lengths, free agency, arbitration, and our favorite new acronym HRR (hockey related revenue). There’s a lot on the table, and none of this can be resolved if the two sides don’t meet.
As I await what will hopefully be a resolution that comes soon, my attention will focus other things like my beloved Baltimore Orioles, and do so my best to support some of the local hockey in and around South Florida.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
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