Philadelphia Flyers' forward Scott Hartnell waited awhile before making his decision to leave the country. He doesn't actually intend to play in Finland's SM-liiga for the KalPa team that he has a minority stake in until next month.
The latest reports have Hartnell joining that European unit on November 15.
Like everyone, Hartnell might be hoping that he never has to complete his travel arrangements. His intended destination is certainly understandable, since other people with Flyers' ties are part of that Finnish mix.
Sami Kapanen, who was a Flyer from 2002-03 through 2007-08, is the team's majority owner. In addition to Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen is a minority co-owner. Former Flyers' defenseman Jussi Timonen (Kimmo's brother) also plays for the team.
It's completely understandable that players would choose to work overseas while the National Hockey League is on hiatus, or whatever other euphemistic term is best applied to this situation. Why not make money and stay in shape until everyone settles their differences in North America?
Realistic lockout end date?
Apparently, Hartnell will play for the League minimum salary and have insurance costs of $52,000 per month. Not being able to earn millions of dollars in the NHL this season will surely affect the veteran forward's outlook on life at some point.
Many professional hockey players, especially someone like Hartnell, should have access to plenty of liquid assets. A big bankroll enables a lesser salary to be earned. But, bank accounts eventually become depleted when a regular paycheck can't be directly deposited.
Middle- and working-class fans understand that people who earn high incomes need constant infusions of cash in order to maintain their lifestyles. Flyers' fans (and all other hockey fans across North America) completely endorse these financial arrangements by choosing to buy the product that the NHL produces.
Playing the waiting game
Hartnell, his fellow Flyers' teammates and many players from around the NHL may spend the 2012-13 season inside other frozen workplaces. But, I can't imagine that we will still be focused on their European efforts at this time next year.
Actually, I better hedge my own bets. I hope that team owners and the Players' Association get tired of this waiting game in time for this season's Winter Classic to be played.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He was a freelance sports writer for five years in the 1990s and is currently a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo Contributor Network! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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