Philadelphia Flyers' forward Max Talbot and recently signed defenseman Bruno Gervais, both of whom hail from Quebec, have brought a great idea to life in response to the current National Hockey League lockout.
Their 'Players' Tour' is set to begin this Thursday night at a Triple-A hockey rink in Chateauguay, which is in the suburbs of Montreal. The first 'game' (5-5, plus goaltenders, with no-contact) includes players who will represent Quebec City, like Los Angeles Kings' Simon Gagne and others who will represent Montreal, like Buffalo Sabres' Jason Pominville. One of Talbot's former Pittsburgh Penguins' teammates, Marc-Andre Fleury, will also be among the goalies who are scheduled to play as well.
If all goes well, this 'League' will play two games a week.
I remember reading about what was referred to as 'barnstorming' (of the baseball variety) many years ago in school. Basically, professional players (in the Major Leagues and the Negro Leagues) participated in highly popular organized competitions around the world as a way to make extra income.
Through decades of solidarity and solid labor negotiation, today's professional athletes have come to reap massive financial rewards. As such, they don't need to supplement their income through these barnstorming-type competitions.
I'm fine with Flyers' goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov agreeing to play in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League, or with any of his professional hockey colleagues choosing to make money in an alternative League during the lockout. Everyone should do what is best for their families, themselves and for their careers during this period of NHL darkness here in North America.
Turning the red light on
Creative responses to challenging times often create unexpectedly positive results.
The hockey public across Canada seems likely to support the charity events that Talbot and Gervais plan to hold, These games should allow for a variety of players to have some fun, raise money for local hockey causes and stay in shape until the NHL and the Players' Association resolve their business differences.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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