As of midnight, when the old NHL CBA officially expired, the lockout has begun. The NHL regular season isn't scheduled to start until October 11th (with the Red Wings' first game scheduled for October 12th), but we're a week away from the first preseason games getting canceled. While fans hold out hope that the lockout will be shorter than a Dustin Byfuglien hunger-strike, here's what it means:
- The team may continue trying to sell season tickets and single-game packages. They may continue to do everything to pretend like they told their players not to come in to work except for ask their players to take part in any of those promotions.
- Red Wings players will not have access to official team facilities. Public facilities rented out by the team may be available, but will not be paid for by the Wings. Additionally, players will have no access to team medical staff or any equipment owned by the organization.
- Among Red Wings players, only Patrick Eaves (I believe) will receive his salary. This is due to Eaves' injury, although if team doctors clear him to play during the lockout (which we have every right to expect would only happen if it were truly a case of him being fully recovered), then he would join his fellow players as fully locked-out.
- Teams will not make any signings or trades during this time.
- Anybody young enough to go back to Juniors can be sent there. Anybody who was assigned to Grand Rapids (including Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith) will report to the Griffins and will play there while receiving their AHL salary. Players not junior-eligible and not sent to Grand Rapids are free to sign in other leagues. When the CBA is resolved, they will be expected to honor their NHL contracts. If a player is injured while playing in a foreign league, he will likely be suspended until he is healthy enough to resume playing in the NHL.
As far as the 'honoring contracts" bit, this is expected of the NHL, the NHLPA, and very likely the IIHF (who controls who gets to play in international tournaments and the Olympics). There's an outside possibility that the lack of a formal transfer agreement with the KHL could cause trouble, but they do have a memorandum of understanding and the IIHF was not happy about the Radulov situation during the last lockout.
Speaking of the KHL, we've got the news about where our favorite Russian will be playing for the time-being.
According to Slava Malamud, NHL.com contributor and foreign correspondent for Russia's Sports-Express, Datsyuk has signed with his old Superleague team AK Bars Kazan.
AK Bars currently sits 3rd in the KHL's young season with a 3-1-1 record. Their next game is Monday versus Avangard Omsk, who sits only two standings points back. Former NHLer Alexander Frolov plays for Avangard. I've yet to see any rumors about current NHLers joining them or joining Datsyuk with AK Bars, but the lockout is still very young. We do know that Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar will once again play together during this time. Both have signed with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Here's the rundown of the rest of the Wings who have announced plans to play overseas during the lockout, based on Ansar Khan's report from Thursday:
Jakub Kindl - says he will definitely play in the Czech Republic and has several offers.
Danny Cleary - says he and good friend Shawn Horcoff will "play somewhere together."
Cory Emmerton - Says he plans to play somewhere and listed Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as possibilities.
Damien Brunner - Will play in the Swiss Elite League, where he played last season. This is done with permission from the Wings, as he was one of the players assigned to Grand Rapids.
Valtteri Filppula - Says he plans to play in SM-Liiga for Jokerit in his native Finland (if the lockout drags on, that is)
Niklas Kronwall - Will wait a bit and then will either decide on a lower-tier Swedish Elite League club or try to catch on in the KHL.
Jonathan Ericsson - Will wait and then see about playing on a lower-tier Swedish club (The highest tier has already stated they will not be accepting NHLers during the lockout).
Everybody else asked has ranged from the non-committal "exploring options" (Abdelkader, Miller), to "probably won't go elsewhere" (Helm, White), to "not going elsewhere" (Zetterberg, who has taken an active role in the NHLPA's negotiating committee).
As things change, we'll keep you updated. In the meantime, I'm going to be exploring legal options for checking out AK Bars games.