SUN Hockey Pool

Who has the keys?

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:59 AM ET

A glance at some of the questions regarding the expected NHL lockout: WHAT HAPPENS TODAY?

- The collective bargaining agreement expires tonight at midnight, but it's expected the NHL will announce earlier in the day its member teams are locking out the players. The NHL board of governors meets today in New York. As of yesterday, there were no talks scheduled between the NHL and NHLPA.

WHAT WILL THE PLAYERS DO?

- It's up to them. Some will stay in their hometowns, while others will return to the cities in which they play. It's hard to believe any will stop working out, given the chance a lockout could end at any moment.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE CLUB'S FRONT OFFICES?

- Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr., for one, likely will go back to his scouting roots. He won't be signing any free agents to NHL contracts during the lockout, however. "No matter what happens, we'll be moving forward," Ferguson said. "(A lockout) may afford me the opportunity to do some scouting." It has been reported that Leafs coach Pat Quinn and his staff will run coaching clinics during a lockout.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES FOR PLAYERS WHO WISH TO PLAY?

- Some players -- mostly Europeans -- have signed contracts to play in professional leagues in their home countries during the lockout. Some free agents may decide to sign minor-league deals and stick it out in the AHL until the dust settles. Others have signed on to play in the Original Stars Hockey League, the brainchild of Mississauga businessman Randy Gumbley. There also is talk of charity games involving NHL players in Quebec.

WHO CAN PLAY IN THE AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE?

- Some players on conditioning stints -- Dominik Hasek is considering such an option with Binghamton -- will be eligible. There are others, such as the Maple Leafs' Matt Stajan, who can play in the AHL and not have to clear waivers in order to be sent down. It's expected the Baby Leafs will open training camp in Kitchener on Sept. 27. Among those who will be there are Stajan, defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and goalie Mikael Tellqvist.

WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE SUPPOSEDLY RESURRECTED WHA?

- Co-founder Allan Howell told The Toronto Sun the league's next board meeting is scheduled for today, with a decision to be made as to when the league intends to get off the ground. "Oh yes, very much so," Howell said when asked if he was optimistic the league would see the light of day, even though the most recent news was the folding of the Quebec Nordiks in late August. Apparently, seven cities -- Toronto ("We anticipate getting it done," Howell said), Hamilton, Vancouver, Detroit, Dallas, Miami and Orlando -- are on board. Incidentally, the WHA was not a topic of conversation among players during the past few weeks at the World Cup.

IS THE NHL LOCKOUT A GOOD THING FOR THE ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE TEAMS IN THE AREA?

- The individual teams will tell you, since they're the only hockey shows around, that indeed it is. But OHL commissioner David Branch is not exactly jumping through hoops with excitement. "It's a difficult question because we're like everyone else and hope there is a resolution," Branch said. "One thing we believe is that when there is a positive feeling around hockey, it really helps us. I think the hardcore fans will be there. But there is cause for concern with the casual fans. We have to ensure they keep coming to the rinks. I don't see (the lockout) as a positive."


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