Nobody seems to know what will happen with the NHL CBA no matter how optimistic or pessimistic people from both sides spin the negotiation proceedings. But one thing thats happening with more frequency is more NHL players are weighing their options, and heading to Europe as things appear to be gaining in the grim category for hockey in North America. Johnny Boychuk was the 11th player to leave for Europe at the end of last week, and Bruins fourth line Gregory Campbell looks like hell be the next in line to leave Boston.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation Campbell has been in discussions with the HC Budejovice team in the Czech Republic thats also currently employing Andrew Ference. The Czech team is still trying to secure the private money needed to pay an NHL player like Campbell a common occurrence in NHL players heading to European teams when contract insurance becomes a factor. Campbells linemate, Daniel Paille, said he may also be headed to Europe in the next few weeks if progress isnt made on a CBA.
Paille, who serves as the NHLPA player rep for the Bs, said hed be most likely looking at the Elite League in England as an option if he does hop across the pond.
Im sitting on all the conference calls and having plenty of conversations with our guys about the current situation, said Paille. But it might get to the point in the next few weeks weve got to start exploring our options.
Were holding up pretty good here. For us its more of a mental battle and it gets a little frustrating. But at the same time we have to do this to come back, said Paille, of the dwindling number of NHL skaters bouncing from college arena to college arena to get their work in. Eventually were going to have to play some games somewhere. We dont know when thats going to happen, but weve got to stay ready.
Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand are among a group of Bruins players that havent yet really entertained playing in Europe as of yet, but that could change if games in December are cancelled next week. Thornton hasnt had any discussions with the Elite League, but that would be his best were he to play in Europe. Lucic is sticking around the Boston area with a pregnant wife expecting the couples first child, so the Bs forward isnt likely to leave soon.
Marchand has been bouncing between Boston where he was a regular attendee at the Boston skates for a good five week stretch and his Halifax hometown, but has indicated he probably wont be going to Europe unless the entire NHL season gets cancelled.
The Bruins already are tops among NHL teams with 11 players in Europe, and they could be adding to that number before the month of November is finished.