SUN Hockey Pool

NHLers taking jobs in Europe during lockout unfair

Former Moose Brandon Reid, who now plays in the German Elite League, says it is unfair for locked...

Former Moose Brandon Reid, who now plays in the German Elite League, says it is unfair for locked out NHLers to take jobs from players in European leagues. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency file photo)

TED WYMAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

WINNIPEG - At least one Canadian hockey player who has been plying his trade in Europe for years is ticked off about locked out NHLers taking jobs overseas.

Former Manitoba Moose forward Brandon Reid is concerned about players in his league losing jobs because millionaires from the NHL want something to do while they are in a labour battle with the owners.

"It's not really fair to the guys who will be benched or lose their jobs," Reid said. "And for teams who can't afford to get the NHL guys."

Reid, 31, is playing for the Hamburg Freezers of the German Elite League this year and has seven seasons under his belt in Europe.

He has played 10 career NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks and recorded six points, and spent parts of four seasons in the AHL with the Moose.

The Montreal native is expressing a sentiment that is likely felt around European leagues at the moment. Locked out NHL players have agreed to temporary deals in Russia, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and Finland.

If the NHL lockout ends, they'll be gone in a heartbeat, but right now, somebody who had a job is about to lose it because these players are coming in.

"It will be exciting for the league and for the fans, but I don't get why they'll come play here for less," Reid said.

A good point.

These players are not happy with the millions they would get out of 50% of all the revenue coming into the NHL, but they are willing to take someone else's job and play for a couple hundred grand in Europe?

The NHL lockout began last Saturday about a week before training camps were slated to open.

Players immediately began signing with European teams, including Alex Ovechkin (Dynamo Moscow, KHL), Evgeni Malkin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL ), Anze Kopitar (Mora IK, Sweden), Ilya Kovalchuk (St. Petersburg, KHL), Jaromir Jagr (HC Kladno, Czech Republic), Jason Spezza (Rapperswil-Jona Lakers, Switzerland), Joe Thornton and Rick Nash (HC Davos, Switzerland), and goalie Nicklas Backstrom (Dynamo Minsk, KHL). Winnipeg Jets players Alexei Ponikarovksy and Ondrej Pavelec also inked overseas deals (though Pavelec's fell through).

Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby is reportedly considering joining Malkin in the KHL.

All this comes before NHL players would normally start getting paid, at the start of the regular season. Imagine how many players are going to want to head across the pond when they start missing paycheques?

Peter Lee, general manager of the Berlin Polar Bears of the German Elite League, told Sun Media he can't keep up with all the calls and e-mails from agents trying to find work for their clients.

"Guys are coming over here because they want to play," Lee said. "I don't think guys are coming over here to make money and pay the bills because I don't think that's realistic."

That's where the problem lies for many players who would be in Europe regardless of a lockout. They do need the money to pay the bills.

Most imports in Europe are well-paid to be sure, but it's chump change compared with what NHL players make.

Still, Reid can see some positives in the arrival of NHL superstars on the European scene.

"I'm excited to play against them and maybe with some." he said. "You never know, maybe this will show everyone we're not such different level players."

As long as they still get a chance to play, that is.


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