While it's obviously clear the players around the NHL are frustrated about the lockout and games being canceled, what is becoming more and more evident is that the players are just as frustrated with the way that the league is handling negotiations. Both sides continue to blame the other side, but ultimately, it's the players who have to go out and perform once the league kicks back up and the lockout is lifted.
Or is it? Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov says that some Russian players may not return to the NHL once the lockout is lifted, as reported by TSN on Saturday. Bryzgalov is currently playing for CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, Russia's primary league for professional hockey, and he is suggesting that top players who can get comparable contracts will choose to remain in the KHL as opposed to returning, thanks to the lack of good faith from the league's owners.
"I think some of the players may not return to the NHL because you have everything here and major companies are going to pay the top players here big money. And, especially for Russians players who can play at home in front of their own fans and families and [earn] even bigger money than they have in the National Hockey League," said Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov finished by saying that the KHL can't pay all of the players the contracts they're after, but for "some big players," leaving the NHL and remaining in Russia is a real possibility. Bryzgalov expressed his dissatisfaction with the owners and says that they put themselves into this situation. He also said that the owners need to take responsibility for their own actions, and referenced the fact that teams continued to sign players to long deals in spite of the fact that a lockout was imminent.
Only time will tell if the NHL is coming back any time soon, and at that point, we'll see if any big names remain with the KHL or perhaps even other organizations, though it begs the question as to whether or not the players have any legal precedent for breaking contract with their NHL teams once the lockout is lifted.