Moreau's off to Austria

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

With cancellation of the NHL season in sight, or at least a lot closer than an end to the lockout of the NHLPA that's reached its 98th day, Ethan Moreau of the Edmonton Oilers has seen enough.

Moreau, who has been sharing duties as the Oilers' NHLPA player rep with captain Jason Smith and Steve Staios, has agreed to terms on a tryout contract with Villach of the Austrian League.

"I thought that it might be a good opportunity to play some hockey," Moreau said yesterday. "It sounds like it might be a nice place to live. I don't want to be going crazy in February looking for a place to play."

Moreau, 29, one of the more outspoken Oilers players during the lockout, will spend Christmas with his family in Edmonton, then jet to Europe on Boxing Day to join Villach.

If Moreau likes what he sees in the small skiing town near the Italian border, he'll be joined by his wife Ornella and his two children and spend the rest of this season with Villach SV, for whom Jason Krog of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks is playing.

"I think I owe it to myself to at least go and check it out," Moreau said. "For me, it's not about money. I don't really care if I'm not in the best league. I could have gone to Sweden or Russia. Those are probably the best places, but it's more of a quality of life thing."

A nine-year NHL veteran who would have earned $1.3 million this season, Moreau has been skating with other locked-out players in Edmonton until now.

He had held out hope the NHLPA's proposal to Gary Bettman Dec. 9 would have done something to get the sides back to the bargaining table.

But, with the proposal rejected, Moreau doesn't see any basis for an agreement. "I'm not optimistic at all, to be honest," he said.


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