He still wants to do that, but in the event of an NHL lockout, Neuvirth may take his talents to Europe.
“Obviously, I have a Plan B [if there’s a lockout],” Neuvirth said Thursday. “I got a few offers from Europe, but I haven’t decided. I still want to play here the whole season.”
Neuvirth said those offers did not just come from the Czech Extraliga but didn’t specify teams or leagues.
“It’s a tough situation and we all don’t know what to do,” he said. “Just we got to wait, and I like I said to the teams I talked to, I’m going to wait until the 15th and then I’m going to decide what I’m going to do.”
In 2004-05, many players, including North Americans, fled to Europe to play at least some hockey to make a living. The entire season was lost then, though.
The Swedish Elite League, considered the second-best league in Europe behind Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, has made it clear it wants full-season commitments from players who sign there.
Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin reportedly has agreed to a deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL, which could allow him to leave whenever the NHL season starts.
Because no one knows when that will be, it might be a tougher decision for Neuvirth and others whether to go to Europe or stay here.
“It’s crazy. I don’t even know,” Neuvirth said. “I don’t even know how the offer’s going to look like. I talked to my agent, and obviously he’s trying to get me the best deal he can. I still believe I’m not going to need to go to Europe and I will stay here.”
In conversations with fellow Czech players, though, Neuvirth’s optimism appeared to waver a bit.
“A few guys from Czech I talked to, they already told me they’re not planning to come over,” he said. “They’re already staying back home; they’re preparing in the Czech league. So from this side it’s not looking very good.”
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