In case you haven’t heard, the NHL could be headed for a lockout if a new collective bargaining agreement isn’t reached by Sept. 15. But there is still hockey to be played—in Europe.
There is a number of elite European leagues that play at near-NHL level competition. NHL players should consider heading overseas for many reasons.
A number of NHL stars have already signed to European leagues, and it appears more are headed that way.
Evgeni Malkin, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos are among the names that recently expressed interest in playing overseas.
St. Louis seems to have summed up how most of the players feel about the lockout.
"With my age, you want to keep playing," 37-year-old Martin St. Louis told the Tampa Bay Times. "I don't want to take a year off. If the NHL wants to shut us down, we'll go play somewhere else.”
During the 2004-05 lockout, 350 NHL Players’ Association players went overseas to play.
The appeal is there. With the players riding an “all we want to do is play” mentality in the CBA talks, the number of players headed overseas could increase drastically.
The only players who should avoid playing overseas if the season is lost are those with injury issues, especially concussion-related.
A year off may benefit those who are trying to recover from concussions, but, if you’re healthy, the European leagues are a viable option in 2012-13.
Not every European league has opened its doors to the NHL talent.
Sweden's Eliteserien has said that players must sign at least one-year deals if they want to play in the elite league.
The looming NHL lockout has sent shockwaves throughout the hockey world, not just the NHL. European leagues like the Kontinental Hockey League, Eliteserien and Swiss Elite League are seeing the short-term effects of the CBA negotiations.
Some of the top leagues, like the KHL, offer competitive salaries for non-star players.
For European-born players, that can be enticing. To stay in their home countries, get paid well and be closer to families, the NHL may have to be wary of some of these players not coming back to the league at all.
The Euro Leagues have appeal to many and just might snag some top-NHL talent if there is a lockout,