Where in the world are the Senators?
Keeping track of players during NHL lockout
DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
|Ottawa Senators forward Zack Smith (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)
Originally slated to start the season Thursday at the Bell Centre, Senators will be just about everywhere but Montreal that very dark night.
Some are already playing in Russia, two are in Finland, one is in Switzerland and yet one more is expected to head to Denmark, if he isn’t there already.
The second player to find work in Finland is skilled, 23-year-old centre Kyle Turris, who signed with Oulun Karpat of the Finnish Elite League on Saturday.
Skating three times a week at the Bell Sensplex with a handful of other pros and their pals just wasn’t cutting it.
“The numbers (at the Sensplex skate) are dwindling, I’m sure it’s similar to everywhere else,” Turris said after one recent morning on-ice workout in Kanata. “The more guys that go, the less guys that are here. I’m sure the guys that are here are going to start looking more seriously to try and find something.”
Some are fortunate. Because of their contract status, young players like Jared Cowen, Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg and Mark Stone are with the Binghamton Senators, getting better while making AHL money. It’s small potatoes compared to what they’d be earning in the NHL, but at least it’s something — and they don’t have to go to another continent to find the paycheque.
More than a dozen other would-be NHL Senators are in limbo.
The closest Marc Methot it getting to playing a game these days is with a controller on his TV screen. Before a date with his video game the other day, Methot nodded to the just-vacated Sensplex ice and, while mulling over his immediate future, stated flatly: “I know one thing .. I’m sick of this already.”
All practice and no games can make any hockey player a miserable boy, indeed. But right now, guys like Methot, Chris Phillips, Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Jim O’Brien, Mike Lundin, Craig Anderson and Ben Bishop have no other choice — or at least none worth their while.
“I’d like to go play, but there’s not a lot of options,” Smith said before going home to Saskatchewan for Thanksgiving weekend. “Obviously, the high-profile guys will get jobs, but it’s tough.
“There are some leagues like the second league in Germany, and the U.K., but you want to play in the best league you can. I don’t know if it gets easier.”
Truth is, he knows it won’t.
Personally, I agree with comments attributed to Anaheim winger Bobby Ryan earlier this week. If the NHL’s union brothers are so adamant about standing up against the owners, they should do as one. The lockout and missed paycheques don’t affect the stars with the big salaries as much as they do the minimum-waged guys or those slightly above that line, yet it’s those “high-profile” players who are fleeing to Europe. And when they get there, they are arriving as something of a “scab” to take the job of another player. Not in its truest definition, perhaps, but when a staunch union man is in a lockout, he shouldn’t be taking the job of a guy in another union. Especially when the staunch union man doesn’t need the money; when he’s only doing it to stay sharp.
The exodus to Europe just doesn’t make sense to me, but then, nothing much about this NHL labour dispute does.