NHLPA looks into setting up teams, games

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Another possible outlet for locked-out NHL players to play is emerging-- or at least for some of them.

There could be teams and organized games held under an NHL Players' Association banner if things drag on without a new collective bargaining agreement. It's still an evolving concept.

"I don't know much about that," forward and Penguins union representative Craig Adams said Tuesday after an informal practice at Southpointe. "I've heard a few things, but nothing concrete."

Things are further along among the French Canadians.

Former Penguins winger Max Talbot is helping to organize teams in Montreal and elsewhere in Quebec, an area rich with NHL talent. A preliminary game could be played in the next few days, Penguins defenseman and Montreal native Kris Letang said, but he's taking the same approach with those games as with playing in Europe -- he's going to wait it out and continue skating with his teammates for a while before making any decisions.

The idea of playing in and around Montreal in NHLPA-sponsored games appeals to Letang, but he wonders if he would get as much out of it as playing in an established league overseas.

"It's closer, but it's not a real league," Letang said. "It's a good idea. I'll certainly keep an eye on staying in Montreal with those teams."

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, like Letang, plans to consider signing with a European club if the lockout persists.

The alternative NHLPA games wouldn't appeal to him if they are contained within Quebec. Games in or around his native Nova Scotia might be different, although that area hasn't produced as many NHL players.

"For those guys [from Quebec], that's where they're staying during the lockout, so it's a little easier," Crosby said. "I'm here, so I'd have to travel for each game. I don't know ...

"If they had a team in the Maritime [provinces], it would be hard not to at least get a couple of games in. But, hopefully, we won't get to that point."

The lockout began Saturday night when the previous CBA expired.

There have been no negotiations between the league and the players association since, although there were reports that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and Steve Fehr, assistant to and brother of NHLPA director Donald Fehr, planned to touch base Tuesday night.

Thirteen Penguins -- plus Boston's Christian Hanson, a Peters Township native -- skated Tuesday, again under the guidance of former Penguin Jay Caufield. Only winger Matt Cooke was missing from the session.

The plan for now is to practice at Southpointe four days a week -- they won't skate today -- while waiting for news regarding the CBA.

The players continue to use a public locker room, rather than the Penguins' facilities there. There is no support staff, including medical personnel.

"We don't have access to the team staff, so, if something happens, I'm sure we can find a doctor in the phone book," Adams said.

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