NHL players returning from overseas

NHL players returning from overseas
January 1, 2013, 7:45 pm
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Gary Bettman with an update on the lockout

One by one, NHL players are packing their bags and coming home from Europe in hopes that an agreement between the league’s owners and players is just days away.

On Monday, Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin said they’re heading home from Switzerland. And on Tuesday, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist tweeted that he’s returning from Sweden.

 “It's time to make a move,” Lundqvist tweeted. “Time to return to NYC and hopefully I'm coming back for the right reason.”

Could this mark a mass exodus of NHL players? Will Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Michal Neuvirth and Marcus Johansson start booking flights back to D.C.?

Caps center Brooks Laich spent much of the lockout playing for the Kloten Flyers of the Swiss National League but is not returning to Switzerland until he knows the fate of the NHL’s 2013 season.

“Everything is open right now,” Laich said.

Negotiators for the NHL and the NHLPA met in private groups throughout the day on Tuesday before formal negotiations resumed after 7 p.m., when Commissioner Gary Bettman was expected to respond to the NHLPA’s counter-proposal.

 The two sides have until Jan. 11 to strike a deal to end the lockout, now in its 107th day, but many believe an agreement could be reached by the end of this week, allowing training camps to open early next week.

If the NHL resumes play by Bettman’s drop-dead date of Jan 19 and a 48-game schedule ends on May 1, the league would play 3.26 games per week, an increase over the normal 3.05 games per week.

With that in mind, Laich was asked if players who played overseas during the lockout would have an advantage over those who worked out on their own.

 “Maybe,” he said. “You can look at it two ways. Players who aren’t playing might feel a little more fresh and with a condensed schedule that extra energy might help them.”

“But I think if you ask any player they want to play hockey. You’re not improving if you’re not playing. I think it’s benefitted me.”