We have reached Day 3 of the NHL Lockout and both sides have made no progress towards a compromise. This is not shocking news to anyone that has been keeping tabs on the Lockout. It has been almost a week since both sides have talked, Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr will potentially talk again Wednesday, Sept. 19. Most likely there will be little strides made toward a compromise, because no one has lost out on any money just yet. Look for discussions to heat up in mid October, when regular season games would have been getting under way. By this point both sides will be losing out on revenue and will hopefully begin to make an attempt toward meeting in the middle. Do not hold your breath for the regular season scheduled start on Oct. 11, it is going to come and go.
So what happens next for the players? At this stage in the game it depends on the player. Those living in their home counties will most likely stage and potentially play for the various leagues around Europe. So far here is a complete list of players that have decided to play overseas.
First and foremost the only King to make a move toward Europe is Anze Kopitar, not a shocker at all, since the Kings star center spends his offseason overseas. Kopitar will be playing along side brother Gasper for Mora IK of the Swedish league. This is a second-tier league, so once the lockout is over he could easily return to the NHL. This is great news for the Los Angeles Kings and a very safe bet for Kopitar.
Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, Ilya Kovalchuck, Nail Yakupov and Pavel Datsyuk are among the players that have signed contracts with the KHL in Russia. Check out this article for more information on the guidelines set for players choosing to head overseas, particularly in the KHL.
The KHL has established guidelines for its teams to follow during the lockout. Each is permitted to sign a maximum of three NHLers for a salary worth no more than 65 per cent of what they were due to earn in North America this season.
For the 20 teams based in Russia, only one of three spots can be used on a foreigner, and that person must have played at least 150 NHL games over the past three seasons, suited up recently for his national team or won the Stanley Cup or a major individual award. The six located outside the Russian border can sign players who don’t meet any of those criteria.
Joe Thornton is headed to the Swiss League to play for Davos. Thornton played for Davos during the 2004-05 lockout and maintains a residence there in the offseason. Joining Thornton in Davos will be Rick Nash, the newly acquired New York Rangers forward. Another Shark headed to the Swiss League will be Logan Couture, whom is in the mist of finalizing a deal with Geneva.
Jaromir Jagr will also be heading back to the Czech Republic to play once again for HC Klando, Jagr is actually the teams owner, so that will an interesting experience for those players.
This is just the beginning, a large portion of the NHL’s top tier talent will be making plans to play in Europe. As fans we do not blame players for seeking opportunities elsewhere, we just want both sides to come to a speedy agreement so we can watch the game we all love. So to answer my own question, Europe is what happens next!