Throughout the NHL lockout, as players have chosen to play in European destinations–and some have even recently returned from overseas–Sidney Crosby has made no such decision. He’s stayed in North America, recently being seen outside Atlanta reportedly because his sister Taylor needed treatment for a concussion she suffered while playing. Before that, he went to the Justin Bieber concert at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh simply because he has a box there and a lot of free time. But still, he hasn’t thought about Europe, and I’ve personally thought that sends a message of hope.
It might be a silly theory, but I think that if Crosby and Jonathan Toews were to both decamp to Europe, joining other highly-drafted young stars like Patrick Kane, John Tavares and Alexander Ovechkin, the league’s resolve would weaken and they might be more amenable to suggestions for ending the lockout. These young stars bring in the eyes and the big bucks from fans–things the league will definitely need to think about in terms of getting scarred fans back to enjoying the game.
Now a thoroughly frustrated Crosby is giving more thought to Europe than ever before. His agent is in talks with teams in the KHL and the Swiss National League A. If Crosby went to the KHL, he could potentially play alongside his decorated teammate Evgeni Malkin, who is with Metallurg Magnitogorsk right now–or on a different KHL squad, playing against him. The Swiss top league is chock-full of NHL talent right now since they have been open to welcoming NHL players from the start (unlike Sweden, where the top league is still not so open even after the government told them it was illegal to shut out NHLers altogether). I believe all but one of the 12 NLA teams feature at least one NHL player.
The big sticking point with Europe for Crosby, though, is money. It costs a lot for European clubs, which are often already operating under thin profit margins, to take on and insure NHL players’ contracts. Crosby has a huge contract, so it’ll cost any team with interest in him, maybe to the tune of $200,000 to $400,000. He could save teams money by playing just a part of a season over there. Considering that he has some renewed optimism because the NHL and NHLPA is seeking mediation, who knows what might happen?
Either way, though, apparently he just missed seeing Claude Giroux, who’s also seeking medical treatment in Atlanta. That might be a good thing: