Lockout or not, Wings prepare for hockey

TROY, Mich. — The Detroit Red Wings aren’t locked out yet and still hold hope there will be an agreement before that happens.

The current collective bargaining agreement between owners and players is set to expire Sept. 15 and commissioner Gary Bettman has already said the players will be locked out if there’s no deal by that day.

Some of the Red Wings are already in town, participating in informal practices at the Troy Sports Center along with some players from other teams.

Henrik Zetterberg, who was in New York last week when the players gave the owners their counteroffer, is among them.

“I think we’ve got to find a solution that benefits all teams,” Zetterberg said. “There is some teams that are hurting. But there’s a lot of teams that are doing well, too. I think the solution is revenue sharing. The big market teams, big revenue teams have to go help the small-market teams. If we do that, we’re going to become a stronger league.”

Currently, the players’ share of revenue is 57 percent. The NHL offered a six-year deal that would cut the players’ revenue share to 50 percent. However, the way revenue is counted now, that 50 percent would actually be 46 percent.

The players’ offer was to reduce their share for three years in order to help teams that have been losing money. But in the fourth year, their revenue share would return to 57 percent.

Since then, there have been no further negotiations.

“We continue to meet internally and we will try to be as creative as we can be in finding new ways to attack this,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told USA Today’s Kevin Allen. “At this point, it’s fair to say we are stalled temporarily.”

With Sept. 15 fast approaching, the Wings are trying to figure out what they will do if there is a lockout, which is expected.

“We are prepared for it if that will happen,” Zetterberg said. “All the guys will be in town anyway then and we will just keep doing what we’re doing now and keep (practicing informally) that way until we get a fair deal.”

Zetterberg, who played for his Swedish Elite League team, Timra, during the 2004-05 lockout, is not planning to return to Sweden immediately.

“I will not go back the first couple of months,” Zetterberg said. “After that, if it goes down all the way to Christmas, you gotta start to think a little bit. I will stick around here, skate with the guys and then try to figure it out.”

Like Zetterberg, Drew Miller isn’t planning to leave Michigan right away.

“Right now I’m just kind of looking at different options,” Miller said. “I’m still optimistic that something will happen, maybe not right on the 15th but hopefully soon after. It’s something that you’ve got to at least explore, have a plan B. We’ll see.

“You gotta be playing hockey and you’ve got to be prepared. Whether it’s continuing to skate and work out here or having an opportunity to go overseas. It’s something you’ve got to look into.”

Valtteri Filppula said he hasn’t really thought about how long he would remain in the United States during a lockout.

“It’s tough to say,” Filppula said. “If it goes long, I want to play somewhere. Obviously there would be a place back home to go and play. That sounds probably the most tempting option if there is a lockout. Hopefully we don’t have to come to that.”

Filppula said he could play for his former team in Finland, Jokerit.

“We have to try to keep optimistic, I think, still,” Filppula said. “At least as long as there’s still time and hopefully both parties get our negotiations to a point where we can make a deal and we can start playing.”

Cory Emmerton, 24, said he has a little different mindset than some of his veteran teammates do.

“I think the biggest thing with being a young guy, some of the older guys aren’t going to leave right away so it would be good for me to get over there as fast as possible,” Emmerton said. “If it happens to drag on for a while, then some of the older guys start coming over. That’s when you kind of get in trouble with needing spots. For me, I think it would be beneficial for myself to go somewhere as soon as possible if it comes down to that.”

Emmerton figures that he would try to play for a team in Europe.

“Obviously Switzerland would be nice, there’s Austria, Germany, there’s a few different leagues that have different rules,” Emmerton said. “You just have to find where the best fit is, somewhere I can play and get to play a lot would be nice. Just trying to look for a good fit for myself.”

Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi were two of the other Wings who skated with the team this week.

After spending the week at the Troy Sports Center, the players will shift their workouts to Joe Louis Arena starting Friday morning.