20 Players Helped and Hurt by the NHL Lockout
The Good, the Bad and the In Between
This lockout is affecting everyone. Not just the fans and the employees who are missing paychecks because of the lack of games, but the players as well. But it’s not just because of the missed opportunity to play.
For some, it’s a good thing: the injured have more time to rest, heal and get back into shape. Those prospects on the cusp of breaking into the big leagues get the chance to hone their skills in juniors or minors before training camp, whenever that may be. Others who had less than stellar seasons have the chance to strengthen their game to bring it back.
Then there are the unlucky ones who cringe at a lockout. These are mostly players who are at the end of their careers, on their last or only year of their contract and will lose the excitement of taking a farewell tour of the NHL before hanging up their skates. Others are the long-term injured, who take things day by day in the hopes of playing again but must face reality that they might not have that chance.
For a few, the lockout is both heaven and hell. On one hand, the break is a blessing, as they can use it to get stronger after injury. Then again, the longer the wait, the more they may realize that they’re not ready to return. It’s a tricky situation for them.
The next twenty men are in this situation. Ten of them see the glass half full, while ten see it as half empty. As for two of them, the lockout is a double-edged sword.
The Good: Daniel Carcillo
He may have made a dumb move when he hit Tom Gilbert on January 2, but he’s been smart about his rehab and only needs medical clearance to return. The lockout lull will give him more time to skate before training camp could begin.
He hasn’t played a full season since January of 2011, so the lockout will give him time to rest and get back to 100% playing shape.
Shoulder surgery in late spring has put a damper on his offseason training, but he’s recently been cleared to play with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. It’s good training before hitting the big ice again.
Hamilton is on the verge of making the Boston Bruins team – Claude Julien has even said that it will happen. The time he spends in the AHL is preparation for NHL ice time.
Horton hasn’t played since a concussion sidelined him in January. He’s officially cleared for takeoff, so the lockout can only benefit him now.
After the devastating hit rendered by Raffi Torres in the playoffs, Hossa has been slowly making his way back to the ice. He recently started skating again, which is a very good sign.
Wrist surgery last summer severely limited his offseason training, and the lingering stiffness was most likely a factor in his 66-point performance last season. He’s spent this offseason training and spending time will a skills coach, so the only place to go for Kane is to the top.
Kesler had surgery on his shoulder in May and isn’t expected to return until December or January. The lockout will give him a chance to heal and train before he sees any ice time.
The Columbus Blue Jackets’ highly touted first round draft pick this year is anticipated to make the team out of training camp. Extra time in the WHL couldn’t hurt his immense talent.
Pronger only played 13 games before post-concussion symptoms ended his season. The lockout would give him more time to recover and evaluate his situation.
The Bad: Daniel Alfredsson
Alfredsson almost didn’t come back to the Ottawa Senators, but he decided to play one more year. Senators fans might not get to say goodbye to their captain.
The past season saw 37-year-old Arnott have some tepid numbers with the St. Louis Blues: 17 goals in 72 games. He hasn’t even signed a formal contract yet, so this could well be the last we’ve heard of him.
On the other hand, Crosby hasn’t played a full season. He might not be mentally ready to handle a long season just yet. The worry of being hit again always lingers.
Jagr’s been around since the early 90’s. The one-year contract he signed with the Dallas Stars could be his last. The lockout might force him to retire in the Czech Republic.
Khabibulin’s in his contract year with the Edmonton Oilers. Instead of re-signing, he might just decide to hang up the goalie pads for good.
Like Arnott, Langenbrunner had a less than stellar season, with only 6 goals in 70 games. He’s also 37, and he may also not return to the ice next year.
The lockout might be good for Pronger, but it could just be postponing the inevitable: he may have to sit out the season.
Pronger and Savard face the same situation. In Savard’s case, he’s already sat out last season. He still struggles with the effects of his concussion, and this may be the season when he retires.
Simply put, a prolonged lockout or canceled season will rob every hockey fan of seeing the farewell tour of one of the sport’s greatest players.
Thomas opted to sit out his contract year, burdening the Bruins with his cap hit, and he hasn’t talked of returning to the NHL. He’s wasting a season that could be his last.