Locked-out NHL stars eye Swiss hockey teams

Locked-out NHL stars eye Swiss hockey teams
Swiss national team captain Mark Streit is sizing up a move to Bern (Photo: Dan4th Nicholas).
Swiss ice hockey teams look set to benefit from a lockout of players in North America’s National Hockey League over a wage dispute.

With the lockout entering its third day on Tuesday and no talks planned between representatives of the NHL teams and the players, some stars are deciding to play in Switzerland while the deadlock continues.

Joe Thornton, centre forward and captain of the San Jose Sharks, was among those making such a move.

Thornton announced he will play for the Davos hockey team, in the canton of Graubünden.

His first game for the Swiss National League A team could be as soon as this weekend.

Thornton met his wife in Davos when he played for the Swiss team during a previous NHL lockout in 2004.

“Yes, just because my wife is from there, she has a home there, we go there five weeks in the summer to see her family and I actually train with Davos when I’m over there,” Thornton told ESPN.com on Monday.

“I know the team real well, and they know me,” Thornton said.

“It’s a natural fit for me to go back there and play."

Another player reported to be considering playing in Davos is New York Rangers left winger Rick Nash, who also played for the Swiss team during the NHL lockout eight years ago.

Logan Couture, a centre with the San Jose Sharks, informed ESPN.com that he was likely headed to the Geneva Servette team.

This followed reports of other NHL players planning to fly to Switzerland to stay active during the lockout, including Mark Streit, captain of the New York Islanders.

Streit, who is captain of the Swiss national team, is planning to join the Bern team during the stoppage in North America, the 20 Minutes newspaper reported.

He began his playing career as a junior in Bern before launching his professional career in Switzerland with the Fribourg-Gotteron and Davos teams.

Streit moved to the NHL in 2005.

Other players from the North American league are considering moves to Swiss or other European teams, including those in Russia, for the duration of the lockout, the NHL’s fourth shutdown in 20 years.

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