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Europeans were expected to venture home en masse, with the possible exception of defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who could play in the KHL or for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson could play in Sweden, especially if the elite league there decides to allow NHL players to sign deals and then return to North America when the lockout ends.

“It depends how long the lockout’s going to be. If it’s just going to be a couple weeks I just don’t want to fly home and play a couple games,” Backstrom said. “But we’ll see what happens.”

That’s the approach for U.S. and Canadian players, too, especially if this is an extended work stoppage. There’s nothing stopping them from going to Europe to earn a few paychecks.

“I grew up loving the game of hockey, not loving the NHL. All players, we want to play hockey. And the beauty of the game today is it’s a global game, and there’s other opportunities,” Laich said. “This is the most competitive and toughest league to make in the world. This is where the best hockey players are, so if they’re available, other teams are going to come calling.”