Quick Hits from around the league:

  • Donald Fehr might be worrying about the players union fracturing again, like last time, but others such as Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post are finding the players to be unusually united and resolute in their determination to get a deal that suits them. The current impasse is now reaching epic proportions and is so bad that the NBA season, typically a bigger draw than ice hockey is about to get started (on Friday) without a puck being hit in anger on the ice. It is possible that basketball, getting over its own truncated season last time out, is going to trump hockey again. Meanwhile, as the sides continue to argue, the players are about to receive their escrow checks worth 7.98 percent of the previous year’s salary and are looking for deals in Europe to keep them going.
  • Over a hundred NHL players are now playing in other leagues. There are some top leagues and quality players in Europe and this has led to NHL stars crossing the pond to join with these solid pros in a few games. This is good for Europe’s teams as it gives them some stardust, but fans back home are missing out again. Some of the stars plying their trade abroad until the shutout is over include:

Ilya Kovalchuk (New Jersey Devils) to SKA St. Petersburg in Russia
Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens) to Kaldno in Czech Republic
Jaromir Jagr (Dallas Stars) to Kladno
Tyler Seguin (Boston Bruins) to Biel in Switzerland
Ales Hemsky (Edmonton Oilers) to HC Pardubice in Czech Republic
Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks) to Geneve-Servette in Switzerland
Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings) to CSKA Moskava in Russia
Jiri Tlusty (Carolina Hurricanes) to Kladno
Vladimir Sobotka (St. Louis Blues) to Slavia Praha in Czech Republic
Raphael Diaz (Montreal Canadiens) to Zug in Switzerland
Rick Nash (New York Rangers) to Davos in Switzerland
Patric Hornqvist (Nashville Predators) to Red Ice in Switzerland
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) to Dynamo Moskava
Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs) to Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg

  • In total, an estimated 191 NHL pros are playing in Europe according to The Star with 20 more heading over in the last couple of days. The Maple Leafs have lost five players to Europe so far, while some teams have lost more and others less. A good number of players are looking for deals abroad while others are not. Some teams like the Jets and the Senators are looking to fundraiser games for local hospitals to keep fit.
  • It’s not good for everyone though, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins has found himself in quite a different situation. In order to play in another league, each hockey player needs to get health insurance. This is fine for anyone fit and healthy or on a medium salary, but the combination of a high salary and a checkered injury past has caught up on Crosby. This is because of a series of head injuries mixed with a salary that could make him a cool $7.5 million. According to his agent, Pat Brisson this could cost the player $400,000 a month in insurance should he try to make his way to Europe or some other league. This has led some players to work out what to do. Playing abroad helps players grow technically and as people. It also gives them the chance to sharpen their fitness levels and game time prior to the big hit off, whenever that happens. Yet, it is worth asking what are players like Crosby going to do in the meantime? The short answer is, stay at home and keep fit, but as any pro will tell you, there’s a gulf of difference between being fit and match fit. As fitness improves performance these players are going to have to find ways of playing the game, keeping their fitness levels up and then get into the pre-season friendlies as soon as they are allowed to.

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