When the NHL lockout first started, several players jumped to European leagues right away. As the league started cancelling preseason and then regular season games, the mass exodus increased.
Henrik Zetterberg was one of the bigger names that decided to stay. He had been leading a group of Red Wing players in workouts around Detroit. But now Zetterberg has signed to play in Switzerland for EV Zug.
As one of the last big name holdouts, this is a bad sign. Zetterberg had been apprehensive to go through the hassle of playing overseas. Now that he has decided to go, it does not bode well for the talks. He was the "canary in the coal mine" player, as long as he stayed then there was hope. Now that he is leaving, is there any chance of a season?
While Zetterberg remained in Detroit it almost gave a ray of hope that maybe an agreement was closer than we thought. Now that he is giving up there is no way that there will be hockey before December and possibly not even then.
The one bright spot about him playing with EV Zug is that he will get to play with Damien Brunner, the Red Wings offseason free-agent. Originally Brunner was scheduled to play in the minor leagues with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Those plans are in doubt now as there is a very good chance that he will remain in Switzerland during the lockout.
This will give the two of them a chance to get to know each other and build some team chemistry. Of course the hope is that the chemistry will help benefit the Red Wings but with the chances of any games being played this season growing dimmer and dimmer that is not likely.
Ideally the two sides will quit messing around and come to an agreement. After all, when billionaires and millionaires battle the only losers are the fans. If both sides wait too long there may not be many of them left either.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.
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