AMHERST — Following another informal skate Wednesday, Jason Pominville packed up his hockey equipment, hopped in the car and drove home seven hours to Montreal.
It’s that hard for the locked out NHL players to find a game these days.
The Sabres captain said he’ll play tonight in the Quebec Caravan League, a charity exhibition series pitting players from Montreal against others from around the province. The contests should resemble intense shinny, he said.
His teammates include Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov.
“They want it to be intense,” Pominville said inside the Northtown Center. “They want it to be good hockey.”
But it won’t be anything close to real NHL hockey.
Pominville plans to skate with some other players Friday before returning to Buffalo. If the Caravan experience goes well, he’ll return next week for two more games.
With the NHL work stoppage nearing the two-week mark, players have started scattering.
The Rochester Americans open AHL training camp today, so about 10 youngsters who’ve been working out with some Sabres are leaving. Winger Ville Leino hopes to sign overseas by next week. Others are getting serious about finding regular work.
Many observers figured a new collective bargaining agreement could be reached around Thanksgiving or Christmastime.
But with little happening – some new talks are scheduled for Friday, however – optimism is waning a bit.
“It could be (the) whole season,” Leino said about the lockout. “But maybe it will get solved by Thanksgiving. I don’t know which one will be the right one. But I bet it’s going to be a while.”
Pominville, one of several players who’s ditched his Sabres jersey for a rebranded NHL Players’ Association sweater featuring the Twitter hashtag “#theplayers” on it, went to a meeting in New York two weeks ago thinking the players and owners were at least somewhat close.