Just when things were starting to look up in the NHL lockout saga, they now look just as bleak as ever.
UPDATE: Saturday, January 5 at 12:52 a.m. ET by Mike Hoag
Sidney Crosby will sign quickly with a European team if the NHL does not come to an agreement prior to the Jan. 11 deadline it set for its labor deal talks, according to Josh Yohe of Triblive.com.
“You wait this long, trying to be optimistic,” Crosby said, according to Yohe. “You can wait another week or however long until we know. What‘s another week?”
Despite the bleakness of the situation, the NHL has yet to cancel the season and will continue to work towards a deal before the deadline.
“Let‘s see what happens first,” Pat Brisson, Crosby’s agent, said.
Other stars around the league have already jumped ship overseas and are currently playing for those teams.
---End of Update---
According to an Associated Press report (via ESPN.com), Crosby felt "disappointed" after labor talks broke down this weekend. Per the story, Crosby—who was part of the negotiations in New York—thought things were going well until Gary Bettman's disenchanted press conference on Thursday.
The commissioner scoffed at the notion that the two sides were close, offering the following pessimistic sentiment (per The Washington Times):
The characterization that I’ve just heard transmitted to us that we were close, that reminds me of the last time the union said we were close and we were a billion dollars apart.
[Sic] Spinning us all into an emotional frenzy over maybe we’re close and we’re going to be playing hockey tomorrow is terribly unfair to our fans and it’s unfair to this process.
Having heard those words from the commissioner, Crosby has set his sights on a league that is playing games right now––specifically one of the leagues in Europe.
"I just want to play hockey," Crosby declared after working out with some teammates. "As far as whatever option is best there, I'll start thinking of it a lot more because this stuff is getting ridiculous."
The fact that Crosby, the league's most marketable commodity, might be giving up on the process represents a new nadir in the labor negotiations. It sends a message to diehards and casual fans alike that things are either moving in the wrong direction or not moving at all.
This is the NHL's second lockout in eight years; it canceled the entire season in 2004-05. And if more high-profile players follow Crosby's lead by heading to Europe, we could be seeing more of the same in 2012-13.
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