It’s been less than 24 hours since the NHL lockout started but the league’s best players are already starting their migration to Europe. Evgeni Malkin, the league’s scoring champion, and Sergei Gonchar, the Ottawa Senators defenseman, will be playing next year in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League.
According to USA Today, Pavel Datsyuk and Jaramoir Jagr will also be playing overseas this year.
Eustace King, an agent with several NHL players, said:
“All of my guys are disappointed in the position the league has taken, but they all love the game of hockey…. They have trained all summer and want to play so I’ll be looking to place guys in short order in the various Elite Leagues across Europe.”
The last time there was a lockout in the NHL was in 2004. During that lockout, the entire 2004-05 season was cancelled. According to Bleacher Report, nearly 400 NHL players ended up playing in Europe during that lockout.
Picking up and moving to Europe doesn’t make sense for everyone. Agent Matt Keator said that several players will practice on their own in the United States in order to stay close to family.
“Some won’t go to Europe because they have family obligations at home… Others won’t go because the cost to insure their current contracts are too high and some will go just go to play and stay sharp for when this all passes.”
Players in the NHL will stop receiving game checks now that they lockout has gone into effect. Players will be able to collect checks from other leagues during the lockout but they won’t come close to their NHL pay. According to USA Today, KHL teams will only be able to offer NHL players 65% of their NHL salaries.