One of the oft-heard criticisms of NHL players who have moved to Europe during the owners' lockout is that they are taking a place from another player who needs the roster spot more.
But all is not always what it seems. As Tom Gulitti reported in the Bergen Record, New Jersey Devils player representative has returned from a short stint in Austria because he didn't want to take a job from another player.
Clarkson played in five games for EC Red Bull Salzburg. He enjoyed the experience, but noted there was a Nov. 12 roster limit and he was uncomfortable with taking a spot from a player who has been with EC Red Bull for the entire season. Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom made the same decision as Clarkson and left the team so a player who had been in Austria all season could remain in Salzburg.
“We had talked about it and we enjoyed playing on that team so much and the locker room was so good that you sat there and you said, ‘Which guys are going to lose their jobs?’ or “Who aren’t they going to keep?’,” Clarkson told Gulitti. “And it was like, ‘That guy’s a great guy’ or ‘That guy has two kids’ So, we both just kind of decided together that once the break came we were going to go home for the break and tell the team (they were leaving).”
Clarkson returned to Toronto to work out with other NHL players and play the waiting game that has come to symbolize this work stoppage. Stalemated talks have given rise to cautious optimism to breakdowns in talks to what in recent days have been the sounds of silence as the two sides no longer feel the need to negotiate because of entrenched positions.
So, who blinks first?
“Part of the reason you come back is you hear good things,” Clarkson said. “But after getting home and being on the calls (with the NHLPA), I think to negotiate you need two people and right now we’re trying. Don (Fehr) is trying to do things that as players we believe are good things. When it comes to player contract stuff, we’re giving up other things and we thought this part of it would be something easier to talk about, but we’re the ones that are told it’s this or not.”
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