European exit not needed

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Like getting mixed signals at a puppy obedience school, National Hockey League players in Europe were wondering whether to come, sit, or roll over and play dead. Almost 400 are playing in 16 different countries and most though they were staying after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's season-ending speech on Wednesday. Management on those European club teams breathed easier that their NHL assets would be staying for the playoffs and not triggering the escape clauses in their contracts.

But then came word of talks being re-started, an imminent deal and rumours of everyone bugging out starting today or tomorrow.

"It's going to be a flippin' zoo over here," Buffalo Sabres forward Andrew Peters predicted -- incorrectly, as it turns out -- on the phone from a restaurant in Uppsala, Sweden, where his second-division Boden team was playing. "Hey, I'm ready to get on the first plane home if we're playing again, but I also had my hopes up on Wednesday. Everyone was joking with me, saying: 'Don't leave without saying goodbye.' Then the talks dissolved. I figured I was staying and I came on this road trip. We've got a game (today), but I'd want to stay for it."

Player agent Wade Arnott of Newport Sports was getting a lot of phone calls and e-mails from clients overseas the past 48 hours.

"Basically, I (told) our guys there to sit tight, don't have a knee-jerk reaction (to rush home early) and just to stay by the phone or keep up to date on the computer," Arnott said.


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