On Wednesday, the NHL lockout prompted the first wave of cancellations.
The league announced that all exhibition games scheduled for September will not be played. The Bruins were scheduled to play four, starting Tuesday against the Capitals. There were also games next Wednesday against the Sabres, and Sept. 29 and Sept. 30 against Winnipeg. They were all road games, including the Sept. 29 match against the Jets in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The Bruins have three exhibition games scheduled for October, including two at TD Garden. The regular-season opener is scheduled for Oct. 11 against Philadelphia.
Training camp was scheduled to start Friday at Ristuccia Arena.
The NHL also had one of its biggest stars bolt for Russia, as Alex Ovechkin signed with Dynamo Moscow Wednesday. The Capitals forward played for Dynamo for four seasons before his arrival in Washington in 2005. Ovechkin, whose Capitals beat the Bruins in the first round of the 2011-12 playoffs, practiced with Dynamo Wednesday.
It is unknown whether Ovechkin will return to Washington if and when the lockout lifts. Earlier this month, Ovechkin had said that it might not be worthwhile for players to return to the NHL if their salaries were slashed.
“If they’re going to cut a percentage of the contract and years, I don’t think lots of guys who signed American deals are going to come back and play here,” Ovechkin told the Washington Post. “It’s not reasonable to be here. You have to think of the future, you have to think of your family.”
Ovechkin is arguably the brightest star yet to sign overseas. Ex-Bruin Joe Thornton signed earlier this week with Davos in Switzerland, where he will be joined by Rick Nash, his Davos teammate during the 2004-05 lockout.
Goaltender Anton Khudobin, projected to back up Tuukka Rask this season, is the only Bruin so far to leave the area. Khudobin has signed with Atlant of the KHL, according to the Russian club. He had been participating in informal practices in Boston prior to the lockout but has not been present for practices this week at Harvard’s Bright Center.
David Krejci and Andrew Ference have been skating at Harvard alongside other Bruins. However, both could be signing contracts in the Czech Republic shortly. Krejci has expressed interest in playing for Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga. It would be Krejci’s first time playing in his home country’s top league.
Ference could play for Budejovice of the Extraliga. According to Kurt Overhardt, Ference’s agent, negotiations are ongoing. Ference played for Budejovice in 2004-05.
On Tuesday, Ference said he’d probably wait another week to gauge the level of labor negotiations before leaving. But Ference said his priority is to play, even if the lockout lifts in short order. Ference’s wife and two daughters would remain in Boston.
“I’d go if it was only for a couple weeks,” Ference said.
Dennis Seidenberg is another Bruin who could go overseas; he is considering signing with Mannheim in Germany. Younger brother Yanick Seidenberg plays for Mannheim. However, Seidenberg wouldn’t sign until later this month, most likely.
“I’ve thought about it all along,” Seidenberg said. “I just don’t want to leave too early. I want to wait it out for a couple more weeks. Then we’ll see where things are at.”
Some Bruins will continue to skate at Harvard this week. Local NHLers such as Brooks Orpik, Ryan Whitney, and Keith Yandle have been skating alongside the Bruins.
The ranks might dwindle next week. Gregory Campbell plans to return to his offseason home in Ontario if no progress is made. He hasn’t looked into European employment.
“I haven’t really seriously considered it,” Campbell said. “I’ve talked about it with the guys, some of the European guys, and my agent. It’s not something I’ve really talked about specifically.
“I guess I’ll cross that bridge when it happens. It is only two or three days after the lockout. Usually, training camp wouldn’t have even started. It’s not like we’re really missing out anyways now. There is some time to consider those options.”