The exodus has begun. Just two days into the NHL lockout, star players are fleeing overseas to skate with European clubs and earn a paycheck.
And just so the owners know, Alex Ovechkin is prepared to stay in Russia for as long as it takes them to come to their senses.
“If the [NHL] continues to insist on their [demands], then it will take a full year,” Ovechkin told Sovietsky Sport (via Yahoo! Sports]. “That’s because we are not going to cave in. Then I will spend the entire season in the KHL. It’s an absolute reality.”
Granted, Ovechkin’s not your average NHLer. First of all, he’s Russian, so playing in the KHL won’t come with any culture shock. Actually it’ll probably be fun for him. Secondly, he’ll be paid handsomely and already has plenty of money in the bank.
Joe Thornton’s got no problem playing in Europe for a spell, either. The Sharks’ captain is off to Switzerland to suit up for HC Davos, the same club he joined during the 2004-05 lockout that wiped out an entire NHL season.
In fact, Thornton met his wife in Switzerland.
“…she has a home there, we go there five weeks in the summer to see her family and I actually train with Davos when I’m over there,” Thornton told ESPN.com Monday. “I know the team real well, and they know me. It’s a natural fit for me to go back there and play.”
Shea Weber is another star in the “no skin off my back” category. Remember that he’ll only forfeit $1 million if there’s no NHL season, since $13 million of the $14 million he gets in 2012-13 is in the form of guaranteed signing bonuses.
But for players that either don’t want to go to Europe or can’t find a half-decent job over there, it won’t be so easy to pass the time.
Sidney Crosby has no immediate plans to head overseas.
Ditto for Jonathan Toews.
The Sedin twins have said they’ll wait until the entire season is threatened before exploring options in Sweden.
Then there are the young stars like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jeff Skinner that have been assigned to the AHL. Think those guys want to be riding the buses and making five figures?
This is one area where the NHLPA’s solidarity will be tested, since not every player will pay the same price as NHL games are missed.
The NHL’s season is set to begin Oct. 11.