While Senators forward Jason Spezza finds the idea of playing in games for charity during the NHL lockout intriguing, he worries about things like insurance and injuries. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency))
OTTAWA - The Battle of Ontario could take on a different form during the NHL lockout.
The Senators have heard about efforts by Philadelphia’s Max Talbot and Bruno Gervais to organize charity games between Montreal and Quebec City NHLers during the lockout and they may follow suit with their Ontario rivals.
While Senators defenceman Chris Phillips — the club’s NHLPA rep — hasn’t done any research, he’s heard about efforts by Quebec NHLers to organize charity games and may consider doing something similar with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Definitely,” Phillips said Tuesday at the Bell Sensplex when asked if he’d be interested in getting involved. “It would be an opportunity to keep playing, have people come out and raise money for certain charities. It’s a great idea.”
Given the proximity of Ottawa and Toronto to Montreal and Quebec City, the effort being organized by Talbot and Gervais could certainly be expanded. During the lockout in 2004-05, a 4-on-4 league drowned quickly in a sea of red ink.
The Flyers pair have done a lot of the legwork, with the first game scheduled for Sept. 27. The idea is to play mostly in small arenas with a capacity of more than 2,000 seats. Money would be split between charities in the area and minor hockey.
“They’re trying to get something going where the players (from) Quebec would play each other and … I was invited to see if I was interested, but I don’t think they have anything formal,” Philly’s Danny Briere told CSNPhilly.com.
The Senators would have no problem putting together a team because pretty much everybody who has an NHL contract is in town and waiting to see what happens.
Senators centre Jason Spezza, who likes the idea because it’s different than doing drills and skating in Kanata every day, cautioned nobody should get too excited because there are major concerns about insurance.
“I’m not sure. It would depend on the circumstances,” Spezza said when asked if he’d play. “You’re going to see a lot of startup things going on. Insurance is always an issue.
“You have to be weary of stuff that is going on. Not a lot of it has proper insurance and I’m sure (the Quebec effort) is being run properly. Guys are looking to play. I’m sure Talbot and those guys have done their homework, but nobody has talked to us about it (formally).”
Spezza, who has three years left on a deal that will pay him $8 million this season if the NHL returns, said players can forfeit part of their contracts if they don’t have insurance and report back injured once the lockout is over.
“If you trip, fall, break your ankle and the team doesn’t like what you are doing, then they may think it’s something against the organization. They could easily suspend you without pay when you get started (back),” said Spezza.
“When you train like this (in Kanata) you are covered because you are training and working out. When you get involved in a charity game insurance has to come in (to play). It’s that fine line and that grey (area) we’ve been warned about. We just have to be careful of what you’re doing. When people are paying to come see you, it may change that discrepancy. Every team may handle it differently.”
Phillips said if the insurance issues were dealt with, it would help fill the void.
“It would be something that would help out some of the charities that would get funded because we’re not playing and could be hurting because of the lockout,” he said.
BACK TO DENMARK
Peter Regin is welcome to go home to play. The Senators centre, who has had two shoulder surgeries in the last 12 months and suited up for only 10 games last season, can return to his Danish club Herning if he wants to get back into action, according to reports out of Denmark.