The NHL and its players association are expected to resume negotiations, possibly as early as today, on a new collective bargaining agreement, but talk of a possible NHLPA International Tourney may produce quicker results.
After the success of the Four-on-Four Challenge in Hamilton, Ontario, over the weekend, the NHL Players Association is working on staging more charity tournaments if the lockout continues.
"You've not seen the last of the NHL Players Association," said the Chicago Blackhawks' Jeremy Roenick.
"We've been approached about doing some kind of tournament," said the New York Islanders' Troy Loney, "and if the NHL isn't going to let us play, then it will be a good way for guys to release a lot of frustration."
The NHLPA is considering several big arenas in the United States -- the Palace in Auburn Hills, the Rosemont Horizon near Chicago -- as well as sites in Hamilton, Saskatoon and Saskatchewan for future events.
The format would be five-on-five and be full-length games, instead of the four-on-four, abbreviated versions. And the series could begin in late December or early January.
There is no doubt the players are keeping busy. Already, dozens are playing in Europe, a group of Russian players has been touring their homeland and Los Angles Kings star Wayne Gretzky is taking another group of players on a goodwill tour in Europe early next month.
And NHLPA director Bob Goodenow said Gretzky has agreed to play in a series of games, if staged, that could include several teams from Canada, one or two U.S. teams, the Russian team and a team composed of Europeans.
Juneau on hold
Washington Capitals forward Joe Juneau, who had planned to leave for Finland tomorrow to join a team in Rauma, will not.
Instead, he will go back to Quebec, possibly play in some of the NHLPA tournaments, and if the season is canceled, join a team in Europe.
"The opportunity to go there is still there," said Juneau of the Rauma team for which he was going to play for a month. "The only thing is the insurance. The rumor a few days ago, that we were close to an agreement, it kind of closed some doors for me. They heard about it and, understandably, they didn't want to pay insurance for over a month and wind up paying for nothing if we started the NHL season.
"But as soon as they cancel the season here, there will be a lot of opportunities over there for a lot of guys. And we're [Juneau and agent Larry Kelly] working on some other contracts over there, so that if the season is canceled, I'll have a place to go right away for a longer time."
Juneau said he isn't expecting the season to be canceled, "but we've got to plan for it."
In the Four-on-Four Challenge final in Hamilton, Team Ontario won the title with a 3-2 victory over Quebec. . . . The tournament drew 43,745 over three nights, $500,000 was raised for Ronald McDonald Children's Charities and more than $200,000 was raised for minor hockey.