Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings has been one of the most active players on the NHLPA negotiating team (at least in public) and a player that had been treating a European departure as a unfavorable option for the last month.
On Monday, EV Zug in Switzerland announced that Zetterberg had signed for the duration of the lockout. Uh-oh.
Zetterberg, who turns 32 on Tuesday, said as late as last week that he wasn't eager to go anywhere. During the lockout in 2004-05, he played for his old club in Sweden. But that wasn't an option this time around because he has $50 million left on his contract, requiring heavy insurance.
He said he'd only consider a place in Europe where neither the insurance nor the taxes would be devastating. He found the answer with Zug, home to Red Wings signee Damien Brunner and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Raphael Diaz.
Well, at the very least, Season 2 of Fake Henrik Zetterberg will to increase its travel budget.
It's hard to argue with this. Zetterberg has been very active for the NHLPA's player negotiating committee. The fact that he's planning to head overseas now doesn't bode well for negotiations. The bright side is that he'll get time to get acquainted with new Red Wings signing Damien Brunner. It will be interesting to see the dynamic of the two, as both are known for a propensity to shoot the puck.
Zetterberg's decision is a little discomforting.
Like Danny Briere of the Philadelphia Flyers, he's a player that didn't want to take the European option, seemingly casting it as a last resort. Now, they've both left in the span of a week.
Like Briere, Zetterberg has been staunchly supportive of the players in their battle against the owners — despite that "PEACE" shirt from the New York presser. From Nick Cotsonika, back on Sept. 13:
"We have to take this fight," Zetterberg said. "It's not just for the guys who are playing now. It's for the guys that are not playing in the league, the guys coming in, all the guys that's done this before. Now it's our turn to kind of fight for the next generation. You have to make that fight. Whatever it takes, it will take."
Even if it takes going to Europe.
From a players' perspective, this is yet another key name leaving for Europe, another harbinger of doom that portends that the lockout will be lengthy.
But ask those sympathetic to the NHL, and they'll wonder if the players are simply following marching orders from Donald Fehr -- a show of solidarity and a negotiating tactic.
No matter your feelings, one thing's certain: The NHL and the NHLPA are both waiting on Sidney Crosby's decision for Europe. Because that's when the traditional sports media in the U.S. takes notice, and the Canadian media goes apoplectic.