Thursday, August 17, 2017

Joffrey Lupul signs with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg

Joffrey Lupul, a winger with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the National Hockey League, headed to Russia this week with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg while the NHL deals with stalled collective bargaining talks.

Lupul scored 25 goals and had 42 assists in 66 games for the Maple Leafs before he was sidelined with an injury last season. Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg is currently in last place in the Kontinental Hockey League after losing five games in a row, the Toronto Star reports.

According to the players association of the NHL, 191 players are playing in Europe and Russia, including five Maple Leafs. Lupul joins Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski in Russia.

Some in Europe criticized the NHL players for taking jobs from players on the continent, while others see it as fair play.

"The owners are all working," Buzz Hargrove, the former leader of the Canadian Auto Workers and a former ombudsman of the NHLPA, said, according to the Toronto Star. "It's people taking advantage of their skills. I think that makes a lot of sense. This is not a strike where the players are shutting down the league. This is the owners locking the players out."

Players are also flocking to the American Hockey League, where 18 athletes who participated in a full NHL season last year are currently working. Others are remaining in North America to participate in goodwill exhibition games, the Toronto Star reports.