ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. | As the NHL lockout drags on, John Carlson isn’t ready to go overseas to play real games, at least yet.
“Some people it makes sense to go and some people it doesn’t. I’m not ready to go right now,” the Washington Capitals defenseman said Saturday night. “But who knows what’s going to happen? What I’m doing is just evaluating every two, three weeks.”
Carlson, 22, signed a six-year, $23.8 million contract with the Caps the day before the lockout began. Europe is not his preferred destination this winter.
“I don’t want to. I think Europe’s great, but I’d rather see it in the summertime on my own with nothing else to do,” Carlson said after the Operation Hat Trick charity game. “I want to be in Washington playing hockey right now. Anything other than that is obviously not satisfactory at this point.”
He has decided to stay in the D.C. area to skate rather than find employment elsewhere. The group of guys skating at the Caps’ practice facility in Arlington has dwindled as guys like Matt Hendricks and Mike Green went home and Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera and Nicklas Backstrom signed in Europe.
Few remain. Jay Beagle said recently he didn’t want to go all the way home to Calgary. Mike Ribeiro has kids in school in the area.
But there aren’t many goalies around, and skates aren’t a substitute for real games and training.
“You’ve got benchmarks for your summer, usually, and where you need to be and what you need to do. Once the lockout starts, you don’t know,” Carlson said. “It’s tough to predict: Do you stay in this, do you work on that? Blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada. At the end of the day you’ve just got to do what’s best for you and try to make the most out of everything you can do.”
Carlson said he’s trying to stay “as positive as possible” with the lockout situation. That’s why he’s re-evaluating every couple of weeks.
His friend and defense partner Karl Alzner said Friday he’s given playing overseas a lot of thought. But he, too, is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“There’s been times where we’ve been really close to going and then there are times where I think that there’s no way I’m going to go,” Alzner said. “I think that I finally came to a decision to just kind of wait. If we get locked out for the entire season, then I’ll probably try and look to see if there is an opportunity for me somewhere.”