The lockout saga of Winnipeg Jets' defenseman Tobias Enstrom has taken another turn this morning as he is leaving HC Salzburg for personal reasons. League mandated policies kept the Swedish-born defenseman for returning to Modo of the SEL earilier this fall, so he opted instead to take a wait-and-see approach before signing elsewhere. He spent his next few weeks skating with both the pro and junior teams before ceasing practice altogether. When it became apparent that he wouldn't be allowed entry to the SEL, he along with many other NHLers, he began their search for a back-up plan.
On October 22, Enstrom finally signed with Red Bull Salzburg of the Austrian Hockey League. In his sixteen days with the club, he suited up in five games in which he managed only one goal. Today, Enstrom, along with David Clarkson have terminated their contracts with HC Salzburg, as reported by NBC's Pro Hockey Talk:
It seems Enstrom and Clarkson were of a similar mindset, leaving Red Bull on the same day the NHL and NHLPA were set to resume collective bargaining negotiations. This meeting is seemingly of particular interest to Clarkson, an participant in previous NHL-NHLPA sessions.
The article also notes that Thomas Vanek has announced his return to North America as well.
Tom Gulitti of the New Jersey Devils Fire and Ice blog: caught up with Clarkson for a quote this afternoon:
"I came over here to get into shape and to train, but I didn’t come over here to take some guy’s job when he has two kids or three kids. So, that’s the decision I have to make. I haven’t left yet, but I told the team I’ve really enjoyed it here, it’s been a fantastic place to play, but I didn’t want to take anyone’s job."
Given that the league is also shutting down over the next few weeks for national tournamnets, Clarkson and Enstrom's timing here makes perfect sense. Fans should reserve their excitement, as this seems to be more of a coincidence than a glimmering beacon of lockout hope.
While the ongoing dialogue between both parties can be seen as nothing short of encouraging, it's hard to believe that these meetings will conclude in a swift manner, especially given how far off both sides claim their opposition is.
For fans who aren't wallowing in a pit of apathy should remain steadfast to Enstrom's wait-and-see approach.