Sidney Crosby frustrated by lockout, inching towards playing in Europe

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Sidney Crosby says he doesn't regret immersing himself in the NHL's labor negotiations earlier this week.

But after seeing the talks break down at a time when the NHL Players' Association believed it was closing in on an agreement, Crosby doesn't sound as if he's interested in taking such a prominent role in future bargaining sessions.

"I think I'm going to try to do what I can," Crosby said Friday. "But after spending those three days [involved in the talks in New York], I think it's pretty tough to kind of get guys' trust back after that."

Crosby returned from New York late Thursday night and was on the ice at Southpointe by mid-morning.

Because even though there likely won't be NHL games for a while -- no resumption of negotiations has been announced -- Crosby seems to be inching closer to going to Europe to play.

Switzerland appears to be his most likely destination, although Crosby said he does not have anything in place at this point.

Which is not to suggest that that couldn't change at any time.

"I just want to play hockey, so as far as whatever option is best there, I'll start thinking about it a lot more, because this stuff is getting ridiculous," Crosby said. "All these games [not being played]."

There were traces of raw emotion in Crosby's voice and visage, especially while discussing the take-it-or-leave-it elements in the most recent offer the NHL presented to the players.

Nonetheless, he said that he will resist the temptation to go to Europe simply because he's frustrated with where the collective bargaining agreement talks stand.

"When something like [the negotiations breaking off] happens, you don't want to make emotional decisions or anything like that," he said.

"I think I've tried to be optimistic and things like that, and given it every chance possible, but I have to make sure I keep playing hockey."

While Crosby contemplates going to Europe, Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland has returned from a professional visit there, at least for a while.

Engelland, who has spent most of the past two months playing for the Rosenborg club in Norway, was among the group of Penguins who took part in the workout at Southpointe.

Engelland said he came back for the holidays, not because of the apparent progress made in the CBA negotiations earlier this week, and that he hasn't decided whether he will rejoin that club.

If he does go back to Norway, Engelland said, it won't happen until after Christmas.

He also raised the possibility that if the NHLPA and league don't have an agreement by then, he might simply return to his offseason home in Las Vegas.

Being in Norway likely helped Engelland avoid any temptation he might have had to become obsessed with the back-and-forth of the NHL-NHLPA negotiations the past couple of months.

Crosby, conversely, has been monitoring developments in the lockout closely for a long time, but being part of the group of players that sat across the table from a half-dozen owners this week seemed to ratchet up his emotional stake in the process.

Certainly, that would explain why he was so exasperated after deputy commissioner Bill Daly sent NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr a text message early Thursday evening, informing him that the NHL had no interest in a proposal the union had served up a short time earlier.

Later, commissioner Gary Bettman would tell a news conference that the NHL's most recent offer had included items the league expected to elicit a yes-or-no response, not serve as the basis for further negotiating.

Nearly a day later, the sting of Bettman's emphatic rejection still showed in Crosby's tone and words.

"To kind of go through all of that and get a response like that is pretty devastating, I think, for everyone," he said.

Especially when Crosby believed that there had been genuine progress made, particularly during the early rounds of talks between the players and owners, when Bettman and Donald Fehr were not involved.

Enough that he still thinks "the foundation is there" for an agreement in the relatively near future. Assuming both sides are willing and motivated to work toward one.

"I think that if it's a case where, like Gary said in his [news] conference, they're going to draw a line in the sand, just say that," Crosby said. "Don't waste guys' time, in there for three days discussing stuff for three days, trying to find a way to make something work, then come in and say that.

"I don't really know what the next move is from here, but that's not really the best way to get a deal done, I don't think. As far as trying to get progress, I don't think that helps anything."

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Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com or Twitter @MolinariPG.


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