The NHL lockout has entered its second week and it’s not looking good. Negotiations between the players and the league have been sparse, and common ground has been hard to find. That’s why a number of players have already bolted overseas to join European clubs. One star that’s still making up his mind is Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist.
The New York Rangers goaltender was hoping to be in training camp at this time and preparing for a very important season. The Rangers ventured to the Eastern Conference final last season and then added Rick Nash to the roster in the offseason, so there’s plenty of excitement in the Big Apple. However, that’s been doused by the lockout and now the Rangers players are left to evaluate their options.
Experts making their NHL picks are expecting Lundqvist to make a move to the Swedish Elite League – if he does decide to play overseas. A recent ban on short-term contracts was lifted, so it is now more likely that Lundqvist goes back to his home country to play.
The problem right now is the players aren’t sure just how serious the owners are about a lockout. At this point, there’s no negotiating, so that’s why some players have already jetted away. However, some others are being optimistic as no regular season action has been missed yet and they feel like the lockout will only take place through the preseason.
As for the European clubs, some leagues have put a ban on short-term contracts as it tends to disrupt team chemistry (assuming that the players come back to the NHL at some point in the near future). They want to see a commitment from the NHLers, which is something they simply won’t do if the NHL gets back up and running.
Regardless, don’t be surprised if you see Lundqvist between the pipes in the Swedish Elite League in the near future. The NHL and NHLPA will have to get some serious work done in the next week or two to prevent that.