WINNIPEG — Attendance remains strong among NHL players, including several Winnipeg Jets, who have been skating and staying shape at the MTS Iceplex.
The locked-out players were on the ice again this morning. Jets regulars Bryan Little, Alex Burmistrov and Mark Stuart were joined by other NHLers such as Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders, Ryan Reaves of the St. Louis Blues and Jannik Hansen of the Vancouver Canucks.
Hansen’s wife is from Winnipeg so the former Manitoba Moose forward said he’s here for the time being.
"I don’t think I’ll be heading to Vancouver any time soon," Hansen said. "The skates here are good enough as they are right now.
"There are enough guys for a quality skate so I don’t see the need. But if we drop down to a handful of guys and no goalies, then there’s no reason to be here."
The lockout hasn’t got him fazed yet, Hansen said.
"You have to take a stand and show them that there are two parties to this negotiation and I believe that’s what they’re doing now, trying to come up with creative ways of fixing this, not just putting a Band-Aid on it," Hansen said.
One of the options for the 26-year-old from Denmark, a great ninth-round find by Vancouver and developed in Winnipeg, will be to go to play in Europe, as Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom decided to do today. He said it’s still a bit early for that.
"We’re a week into it," Hansen said. "They haven’t sat down since the lockout (started) so we don’t really know where it stands right now. It would be nice to get some sort of clarification on whether this will be a long-term thing or it’s going to be something that can be sorted out in a respectable amount of time.
"It will weigh on my decision. It would be very convenient to go home, stay with my parents, eat some home cooking and whatnot. I haven’t had that opportunity in eight years, so that would be a nice part. Again, the league is probably not the best level where I could better myself, but I’ll have to weight that out myself."
One carrot for Hansen if the lockout drags on is to compete on the Danish national team when it tries to qualify for the Olympics in February.
"It would be a tremendous opportunity," he said.