The National Hockey League lockout drags on into its third week, now threatening to result in cancelled regular season games. While the NHL and the NHL Players Association have been meeting, they’re still not hashing out those “core economic issues” that will need to be resolved to return the players to the ice.
What’s a professional hockey player to do? They want to play, they’ve trained over the offseason to play…and they’re not being allowed to play. There are plenty of motivations for players – the desire for competition, glory, money, familial security – but my point is, this itch isn’t getting scratched while the players are being locked out. So players have to survey the landscape and decide to play somewhere else…or wait.
The players that were projected to be on the roster of the 2012-13 Columbus Blue Jackets have been wrestling with these issues since the lockout began on September 15. Of the 24 players that I hunted down, ten are now playing somewhere around the globe.
In the cases of most young CBJ players on entry-level contracts or those on two-way deals that the team could squeeze through waivers, that means the CBJ’s American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield, Massachusetts. With second overall pick Ryan Murray, however, the awkward NHL-Canadian Hockey League agreement on barring major junior-aged players from the AHL results in him returning for another spin at the rodeo with the Western Hockey League’s franchise in Everett, Washington.
Other players are returning home – note all the Russian players playing for the Kontinental Hockey League. It’s not all about going back to Europe, though, as Alaskan Brandon Dubinsky signed a “professional tryout” deal with his home-state East Coast Hockey League’s Alaska Aces.
Then there’s Derick Brassard, who is on a barnstorming circuit in Quebec with a number of other French Canadian and Montreal-based players. The players are bringing NHL (scrimmage) hockey to towns in La Belle Province that would have no reason to expect to see superstar-quality players up close. They’re raising money for Quebec charities along the way, a nice touch.
Others simply wait, perhaps in the hopes that a deal can be reached sooner than later. I gather that Jack Johnson is on a personal alumni tour, practicing with his old teams at Shattuck St. Mary’s and the University of Michigan. Colton Gillies dropped in on his former youth hockey development camp. I only hope that those who haven’t found a place to land during this lockout are doing so by choice…because, as NHLer Krys Barch howled last Saturday night, it’s not always a matter of picking and choosing one’s interim destination.
Are you interested in following your favorite Blue Jackets players while we wait for NHL hockey to resume in Columbus? If so, this chart of players and their lockout playing homes might be useful.
I expect that this list will need to be updated should the lockout last beyond the final escrow payment of the 2011-12 season, which apparently should be paid in mid-October. If readers learn of any moves, please feel free to leave a comment below.