Kids that are fans of HC Linköpings are unlikely to get to spend time with NHL veterans like Brendan Morrison and Mike Knuble like they did in 2004-05. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Your favourite NHL player is unlikely to be suiting up in Europe's second best league this year. The Board of Directors of the Elitserien voted unanimously to uphold their current stadard of signing contracts for the full season. In the event that a locked out NHL player contacts an Elitserien squad to play there, he must sign on for the full season. That will limit the possible NHL players being signed to current free agents, both unrestricted and restricted, and any of those players that hold out hope of getting a NHL contract once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated won't be welcome in Sweden, either.
During the 2004-05 season, Sweden was flooded with NHL talent, and if there had been a resolution to that dispute to save the season a great number of players would have left the league near the end of the regular season and beginning of the playoffs. Such a disruption would be catastrophic for the league and its hopes of having a real champion emerge. The Board of Directors obviously feel that it is best to simply not allow temporary employees this time, especially since few anticipate a fully cancelled NHL season this go around. In 2004, the situation was so dire there were predictions of a NHL lockout of nearly two years.
So far, Sweden is alone in taking this stance. Swiss clubs are ready to pounce on available locked out NHLers, for example. I guess this is a bridge we'll cross when we get there, but there seems to be few reports coming out about NHL players signing contingency contracts in Europe starting September 16th.
Thanks to Risto Pakarinen on Twitter for the tip.