Pekka Rinne, Patric Hornqvist, & Roman Josi have hit the trail to Europe.
With all of September’s preseason games cancelled and three already missed, the Predators (along with players across the league) are struggling with the decision of wether to wait out the NHL Lockout or head over seas to continue what they do best.
Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Alexander Semin have been vocal about their departure for the ‘Mother Land’, prompting fellow NHLers to consider the same decisions, wether they nestle in the KHL or not.
Rumors have been swirling around particular Preds, with Martin Erat supposedly returning to the Czech Republic and Sergei Kostitsyn possibly signing with a KHL team, but the only truth for Predators fans is this: Pekka Rinne has signed with a KHL team, Patric Hornqvist signs with Sweden, and Roman Josi (who actually made his announcement earlier in the week) returns to Switzerland.
Amidst rumors of him signing with the Finnish Elite League, Pekka was adamant about settling with a KHL team instead of one in his native Finland. Rinne will be goaltending for Dinamo Minsk out of Belarus during the duration of the lockout.
Patric Hornqvist naturally returned to Sweden, signing with Djurgården, a key team of Sweden’s Allsvenskan league. Preds’ first rounder Pontus Aberg is active on Djurgården’s roster, giving Hornqvist the opportunity to help the youngster prepare for (maybe one day) a shot in the National Hockey League.
Roman Josi was the first to announce his departure to Europe under the Predators roof, shipping back to S.C. Bern of Switzerland. Former Pred J.P. Dumont played for S.C. Bern last season, gaining eight goals in just 31 games. Josi is expected to hit the ice for S.C. Bern on September 29th.
With Pekka, Patric, and Roman packing up and heading overseas, it’s only a matter of time before the other members of the Nashville Predators inevitably agree to the same decision. As mentioned, SK74 and Martin Erat are already in negations with European teams, so only time will tell when they sign.
The NHL and NHLPA have scheduled a formal meeting on Friday to discuss options on the current lockout, hopefully coming to some sort of an agreement.
You are probably wondering why we haven’t covered the current Collective Bargaining Agreement that haunts the future of the 2012-13 NHL season. Welp, we figured you were hearing enough from everyone else, but also because we just didn’t want to discuss it. Bad juju, really.
Well, after trying to ignore the potential lockout like a five-year-old (if you close your eyes and cover your ears, it’s not real, right?), we finally hiked up our big girl undies and weighed the pending situation at hand.
As of Friday, the NHLPA and the NHL have come to no conclusion, with no intentions of meeting again before the CBA expires on the 15th. The meeting lasted a whopping 90 minutes. That gives these two knot-heads twelve days to agree to disagree or say bye-bye to the 2012-13 season (that, or it’ll be delayed).
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t seem worried about a potential lockout, claiming that, because the league survived the last lockout (2004-05 season), it will be just fine if another one occurs. Fans and the media, however, beg the differ.
The strength of hockey will not be effected in certain places such as Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit, and all of Canada, but for non-traditional markets, the event of a lockout could be disastrous. The Columbus Blue Jackets are walking a very, very thin wire and, after losing Rick Nash to the New York Rangers, a lockout could be the scissors that cut their lifeline. Hosting the All-Star Game won’t help much if there isn’t one, and it sure won’t bring an already waning fan base back on board, either.
The Phoenix Coyotes, still floating on Cloud 9 after making it to the third round of the playoffs, will soon find their cloud bursting into flames if the lockout does indeed occur. What fan base they generated during the playoffs will enviably die off due to lack of a season, sending the Coyotes back into the limbo that is “What Canadian city will be getting an NHL team”. Now, not to bash the Coyotes, as they do have a committed, loyal fan base, but I am talking about those who jumped on the bandwagon and/or those Arizonians who were introduced to hockey during that time.
Though we do not want to discuss it, Nashville will be effected as well. The Predators have nestled themselves into Music City just fine, and the team managed to survive the 2004-05 season without fail. However, although the fan base is strong and loyal fans have began to emerge, Nashville is still a non-traditional market and, enviably, will be damaged by a potential lockout. The Predators bring fans from across the South, from Alabama to Arkansas (most notable Preds fans from Arkansas? The Duggar Family from 19 Kids and Counting) and, without a season, but in a lockout situation, those fans will revert back into college football drones.
No matter if the team is settled in a non-tradition market or in a thriving, hockey-centered community, every city with an NHL team will be affected negatively. Wether it be monetarily, numerically, physically, whatever- Bettman can easily shrug off the fact he will lose no more than chump-change and a few “bandwagoners” if a lockout occurs. The fans, however, lose out in every aspect of the situation. Cities that don’t even have teams will be affected.
“Once we get past Sept. 15, I think the dynamic changes,” Commissioner Bettman stated. “The damage to the business changes the dynamic of the negotiation. So, from our standpoint, we’re hoping to make a deal by Sept. 15. That’s how we’ve positioned the offers we’ve made. And I’m hopeful that it can still be done. There is enough time if there is a willingness to negotiate.”
As stated above, the NHL and NHLPA have not set another meeting to discuss the CBA any further, leaving the 15th of September looming over every fans’ head.
Check out this video by Janne Makkonen – If this doesn’t make you want to punch Gary Bettman, I’m not sure what will. It gives an example and statistics of people will be affected if a lockout occurs and how fans can make a difference.
Here’s to hoping the NHL and the NHLPA get their butts in gear and finish these CBA talks before the 15th. Even if the season is pushed back, we’d rather see that than an entire lockout. Though it looks like neither side is going to back down, something’s got to give soon. For the fans sake.