By: Ben Raby
As the possibility of a second NHL work stoppage in eight years increases by the day, the exodus to Europe may be upon us.
On Thursday, multiple reports linked NHL all stars Rick Nash and Joe Thornton with HC Davos of the Swiss Elite League. According to the Swiss sports network RTS Sports, team president Gaudenz Domenigs said that Nash and Thornton will likely play for his club if there is an NHL lockout.
Nash and Thornton were teammates with HC Davos during the 2004-05 NHL lockout and have also played together at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. While the possibility of their reunited in Switzerland makes sense, the report has been refuted to TSN in Canada by both Nash and his agent Joe Resnick.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that if a new collective bargaining agreement is not in place by Sept. 15 the League will again lock out its players.
Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr are not scheduled to meet again until next Wednesday and the commissioner told reporters yesterday in Toronto that a wide gap remains between the two sides with not much time to go.
Up until today there have not been many serious discussions regarding NHL players heading to Europe, but with most European leagues beginning in mid-September and no sign of a resolution between the NHL and PA, more contingency plans to play overseas are likely on the way.
One NHL agent told me last week in Toronto that he hadnt heard very much on the European front but that once a couple of players sign deals to play in other leagues, it will likely have a domino effect with other PA members following.
The agent represents at least one Washington Capital and said that he and his clients have just started to casually discuss the possibility of playing in Europe.