SUN Hockey Pool

Agents say play in Europe

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Some players aren't convinced the NHL will start next September and they're already looking for work overseas.

NHL agents Allan Walsh and Mark Gandler confirmed yesterday they've advised their clients to begin looking for contracts in Europe for next season.

"I just don't have any hope that there's going to be any hockey next year because I just don't see a deal happening," said Gandler.

While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has maintained the league will resume negotiations with the NHL Players' Association after a cooling off period, there is no optimism the two sides will be able to come to an agreement.

"My recommendation has been that the players start looking at Europe now," said Walsh. "Until the very last minute, I believed a new CBA was within reach. I thought the players made huge concessions in proposing a hard cap.

"They addressed the concerns of the NHL in a meaningful way with proposed changes to arbitration, qualifying offers, (rookie deals) and by adding a luxury tax with revenue sharing. This lockout is about union busting."

And, since nobody is sure what form it's going to come back in, the players are already making other plans. Senators winger Martin Havlat, who is playing with Sparta Praha in the Czech Republic, said he will begin working on a new deal for next year immediately.

"You have to start thinking about what you're going to do next season. I'll definitely be talking to teams over here because what you want to do is make sure that you're playing hockey," said Havlat from Prague.


Photos