Let the games begin, hopefully. In New York, Madison Square Garden sits eagerly waiting for the New York Rangers to bring hockey back to Broadway.
“I miss hockey, of course. It’s been a long summer,” Henrik Lundqvist commented on his official blog as he arrived in Sweden. Unfortunately, summer has extended well into the NHL season with little relief, and the loyal are turning elsewhere for their hockey fix.
Last week in New York, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and Special Counsel Steve Fehr made attempts to bargain and salvage some of the 2012-13 season. The Collective Bargaining Agreement and the lack of rectifying core issues have sent NHL players to Europe and Russia.
The New York Rangers already would have played the defending Stanley Cup Champion, the L.A. Kings for their season opener, then the San Jose Sharks and then heading home to take on the New Jersey Devils at the Rock in Newark. The cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season was a blow to all the hockey writers, fans and players. The hope of watching upcoming Blueshirt games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and the Ottawa Senators in October is all looking dismal.
Henrik Lundqvist’s season has headed overseas, but he is shy on the specifics. He told Sportbladet upon his arrival in Landvetter, “I am first and foremost here to meet friends and family, and I have told Frölunda too. Then we’ll see where it ends somewhere. It’s the only thing I can say right now.” News has spread that King Henry may talk with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League to play if the NHL can’t reach a deal.
Concern mounted as news of Nash injuring his shoulder hit the US. The 28-year-old was removed from a HC Davos game as a precaution. HC Davos secured Nash to play in the Swiss National League A during the NHL lockout. He and fellow NHLer Joe Thornton played in Switzerland during the last lockout. Nash had 47 points (including 27 goals) in 44 games that year leading HC Davos to take the League title and the Spengler Cup.
New York’s rookie defenseman Ryan McDonagh is the third Ranger to take his talent to fans abroad. Having turned down two previous offers, the 23-year-old signed with HC Barys Astana of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League fearing the lockout would continue well into the season.
McDonagh told the New York Daily News, “I love playing this game, and this is a great opportunity for me to play and stay in game shape so I can ultimately be at my best to help the Rangers win.” McDonagh is in his final year of an entry-level contract with the Rangers, and will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Rangers’ rookie Carl Hagelin signed with Sodertalje SK, Sweden as a way to keep up his skills. The first official week without an NHL paycheck for players passed without a deal. The decision to play overseas stems from not only a paycheck, but the need to stay in shape when the lockout ends.
Will the NHL lockout finally put an end to this never ending summer and send the NHL boys home? With a new deal on the table, players will decide when to return home and end this never ending summer.