NHL Lockout: Why Switzerland Is Appealing to Pens Star Sidney Crosby

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

Sidney Crosby wants to get back on the ice.
Sidney Crosby wants to get back on the ice.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There's little doubt that Sidney Crosby wants to play hockey this year.

His ideal scenario is that the NHL lockout will soon end, both sides will come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement and the 2012-13 season will eventually begin so he can play hockey with the Pittsburgh Penguins again.

Crosby showed his desire to make this happen in early December when he was among the group of players who met with owners (according to FOXSports.com) and appeared to make progress in negotiations without Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr present.

That progress was scuttled when the two principal leaders attempted to return to the negotiations.

Earlier this week, Crosby was so hungry for hockey that he played goalie in a street-hockey league, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Crosby has indicated that he has been considering the idea of playing in Europe while the lockout persists. That's an option that many NHL players have taken advantage of, but Crosby has resisted because he maintained hope that the lockout would eventually end.

Crosby is not about to give up hope on that idea, but he is not just going to twiddle his thumbs while he waits for the two sides to come to an agreement.

Crosby may soon join a European team.

Many of the top NHL players are playing in the Kontinental Hockey League. A handful of top players are competing in the Swiss National League A. There are reports that Crosby is giving strong consideration to playing in Switzerland.

While the competition may not be as strong as it is in the KHL—with teams in Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan—it may be somewhat safer than the KHL for Crosby.

There's a chance that Crosby would be on the receiving end of some huge hits in the KHL. The Toronto Sun surmised that Crosby would be targeted if he played in that league.

The Swiss National League does not play the same brand of physical hockey and might appeal to Crosby a bit more.

Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators, Tyler Seguin of the Boston Bruins and Joe Thornton and Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks are playing in that league.

Playing in Switzerland makes sense for the long-term view. He will get his skating legs back by competing for a professional team while protecting himself from taking unnecessary punishment.

However, when you are the best player in the world, you want to face the best competition.

That's why Crosby playing in Switzerland is not a sure thing.

He could decide he wants to face the best players in the world, which might mean a tour of duty in the KHL is on the horizon.