Less then two weeks into the NHL lockout, it appears as if the fans are not the only ones to lose hope that the season will start on time. As of the start of Day 12, 79 players have decided to abandon the seemingly sinking ship that is the 2012-2013 NHL season to seek out new homes.
The KHL appears to be the top league for players to go to. Despite the fact that they have reportedly placed restrictions on who the teams can or cannot sign, they do appear to be attracting some of the bigger talent in the league.
Ovechkin, Malkin, Gonchar, Datsyuk, Bryzgalov – these are only some of the 26 players which have decided to sign with the KHL.
The KHL restrictions include: must have either previous KHL experience; must have played no fewer than 150 NHL games over the last three seasons or represented his country at one of the last two world championships or the Olympics. In addition to this, each team is limited to only signing three players from the NHL – as of Day 12, there are only a handful of KHL teams which have filled that quota: SKA St. Petersburg, CSKA Moscow and Metallurg.
The fact is, unfortunately, if a player truly wants to find somewhere else to play while the CBA is still being discussed, they will manage to find a place. It is sad, but true – and the European leagues seem to be more then happy to welcome the NHL players aboard.
Of the 53 players remaining: 17 players were signed within the Czech League; 15 players were signed within the Swiss Elite; 9 players were signed within the Finnish Elite; 4 players were signed within the Swedish Elite; 2 were signed to the German League (T2); 2 were signed to the German Elite; and finally, 1 player was signed to the Swedish League (T2); 1 player to the Austrian League; 1 player to the Slovakian League; and finally, 1 player to the British Elite League. As the lockout continues, it is pretty much a certainty that these numbers will grow.
Most of the remaining players – or at least those who would eligible to play abroad – appear to be playing the waiting game when it comes to picking a new team. Both Brodeur and Crosby have spoken out about their lockout plans – with both thinking along the same lines.
Brodeur has been in the NHL for the four work stoppages that have occurred over the last 20 years. During the last lockout, in what should have been the 2004-2005 season, Brodeur did not chose not to join the other players who went abroad to play. This time, things appear to be different. While he admits that he negotiated his new contract with the potential lockout in mind – preferring to be able to secure his place on the New Jersey Devils – he has stated that he will not be looking around while there are still some form of communication going on between the NHL and the NHLPA, or at least until the supposed season start date passes in a few weeks. Once that date passes, he has indicated that he is more then open to looking around for a potential place to spend the season.
Crosby, on the other hand, is facing his first NHL work stoppage. While he has had a series of concussions, which have lead to him being off the ice for the majority of the last few seasons, he seems to be more then ready to hit the ice again. Much like Brodeur, however, Crosby seems to prefer to play the waiting game. In a recent interview with a Pittsburgh radio station, he spoke of how he does in fact want to play this season – he is just waiting it out a bit longer to see if there’s any progress in the CBA talks, yet (much like Brodeur) he is not opposed to starting to look elsewhere for a place to play this season.
Brodeur, Crosby, and any other player who is just ‘waiting it out’ – with the way the talks have been going recently (or rather, not going), it’s probably time to pack your bags and start looking overseas. There is almost no doubt that these talks are going to continue to stall – because, realistically, the two sides have barely spoken these last two weeks – and that the 2012-2013 NHL season is sunk.