Canucks players preparing backup plans if NHL season cancelled
Notebook: ‘I have to play somewhere,’ says winger Chris Higgins
'It's getting tougher and tougher to make the move back to Sweden, that's for sure,' says locked-out Vancouver Canucks star Daniel Sedin, a father of three. 'You have to take kids out of school and look at everything. You have to look at insurance. There are a lot of questions we have to get answered first. We're going to talk to Markus (Naslund, GM of Swedish Elite League team Modo) in the next few days here and we'll see what happens.'
Photograph by: Ric Ernst, PNG
VANCOUVER — Since Day One of the NHL lockout, the Sedin twins have maintained they would return home to play for Modo in the Swedish Elite League if, and only if, the season was cancelled.
Daniel Sedin appeared to be hedging on that Friday. The brothers have had an open invitation from Modo GM and former Vancouver Canucks teammate Markus Naslund to rejoin their hometown club.
“It's getting tougher and tougher to make the move back to Sweden, that's for sure,” said Daniel, 32 and a father of three. “You have to take kids out of school and look at everything. You have to look at insurance. There are a lot of questions we have to get answered first. We're going to talk to Markus in the next few days here and we'll see what happens. Hopefully it doesn't have to happen, but you have to be prepared.”
Chris Higgins is preparing, too. He said Friday he will aggressively pursue playing opportunities in the event the season is cancelled. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has insisted the season must start by Jan. 19, which would indicate a drop-dead date of next Thursday.
“I have to play somewhere,” Higgins said following another lockout skate at UBC. “I've been working out for months on end now and I have to have a little release somewhere. I couldn't just go back to training for next year. I have to find some place to play even if it's for six weeks, or two months. It's going to happen, for sure.”
Higgins, 29, was not certain whether that would mean going to Europe or perhaps playing somewhere in North America. He's represented by Matt Keator.
“I don't know where,” he responded. “I'm going to talk to my agent over the weekend and I think we're going to start finalizing some spots for a worst-case scenario. Hopefully, I don't have to pack up.”
WHAT'S MY DEADLINE? Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa often shows his temper on the ice but he's been Mr. Cool during the lockout, which reached Day No. 111 Friday. Asked about the NHL's supposed deadline to close a deal by next Thursday, he hardly twitched.
“There have been a lot of deadlines throughout this whole thing,” Bieksa said. “Deadlines have been moving, changing, disappearing. So deadlines don't really mean much. I don't think I'm getting as high and as low as maybe the media or some other people get when there are reports we're close to a deal and all that stuff.
“I'll believe it when I see it. I'm not really getting too optimistic. I still hope, and I still think, there will be a deal eventually but I'm not riding the roller coaster, so to speak.”
Bieksa, 31, staged a successful charity game in October that raised $200,000 and indicated he might look at another if the season is axed.
“The first one was pretty good and I understand there is a lot of interest in another one,” he said. “The timing hasn't really worked out with a lot of these deadlines we've been getting. Obviously if the season is cancelled, it leaves a lot of room.”
He may also pursue playing opportunities overseas.
“We'll see what happens,” he said. “That will be an option. I think that's an option for everybody but I hope I don't have to use that.”
CANUCK LUNCH: The world junior bet between New York native Higgins and the Sedin twins has been set. If the Americans win gold Saturday, the twins will buy lunch for Higgins and the remaining three players — Bieksa, Manny Malhotra and Dan Hamhuis — who have been regular workout partners during the lockout. If the Swedes prevail, Higgins will purchase lunch for the bunch, likely on Monday.
At first glance, this appears to be a raw deal for Higgins as he doesn't have an identical brother to absorb 50 per cent of the bill.
“That's all right,” chuckled Higgins. “They're one person.”
Daniel Sedin is convinced he and Henrik will be keeping their wallets firmly in their pockets.
“Higgins knows he is going to lose,” Daniel winked.
QUOTABLE: “Their skill has always been up there and now no one can beat them physically. Sweden knows they can beat anyone and maybe it hasn't (always) been that way.” — Daniel Sedin on Sweden's return to prominence at the world junior championships.
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