Though he’s currently signed with Switzerland’s EV Zug, Henrik Zetterberg knows he’ll be returning to Detroit once the NHL lockout is over.
He just isn’t sure if Russian players will follow suit.
That’s what Detroit’s alternate captain told MLive.com on Wednesday, explaining how the KHL has become a legitimate option for a number of Russian players.
“I know for a fact Russians will probably stay,” Zetterberg said. “I can’t blame them either. The Russian league treats players a different way. For them to play in their home country and not have these (labor) disputes every other year … and they honor the contracts over there.
“If you sign a deal, that’s the deal you get.”
For Red Wings fans, the immediate concern is probably the future of Pavel Datsyuk, the 34-year-old Russian superstar currently plying his trade for CSKA Moscow.
Well, breathe easy Detroit supporters — according his agent, Gary Greenstin, Datsyuk will return to the Motor City once the lockout ends.
But while Datsyuk is a lock to return, other Russian NHLers don’t sound as committed.
— Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has already spouted off about the potential of some Russian players remaining in the KHL after the work stoppage ends.
— Alex Ovechkin said he’d stay in the KHL if the NHL cut salaries.
— Ilya Kovalchuk said he’d be “delighted” to play in the KHL all season. “I really don’t care, the main thing for me is hockey,” he told RIA Novosti.
Zetterberg said if the NHL doesn’t get some players back post-lockout, it only has itself to blame.
“It’s not our decision whether to play games,” he explained.” We were willing to play under the old CBA while they figured out the new one, but the league didn’t want to do that.
“If they don’t want to have us here playing, we just got to look for some other places to play.”