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NHL Dispute Extends to Europe : Hockey: Carnback wants to play in Swedish Elite League if he can get around the obstacle of his contract with the Ducks and the lockout.


Mighty Duck left wing Patrik Carnback is pursuing opportunities to play in Sweden, agent Neil Abbott said Wednesday, the day after the NHL rejected the players' latest bargaining proposal, signaling a potentially long lockout.

However, it's unclear whether the Swedish Elite League is going to accept NHL players.

"I'm still waiting for an official statement from the NHL," Swedish league president Tommy Topel told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "I expect an overnight fax. We have to listen to the NHL first because we have an agreement."

Duck General Manager Jack Ferreira has said Carnback would be violating his contract if he plays in Europe, but Abbott said he will try to persuade Ferreira to loan Carnback to a team in his native Sweden. However, if Ferreira doesn't agree, Abbott hopes to pursue a Swedish contract anyway. He also is advising Boston rookie Mariusz Czerkawski to play in Europe.

"I think this season is going to be shot, to tell the truth," Abbott said. "I don't think there's any realistic chance of the NHL playing in the short term, meaning the next two to four months. If by some miracle they happen to say, 'Let's play' tomorrow, (Carnback) will be on the first plane back. But I can't make any case for this ending any time in the near future."

Abbott also represents Chicago's Jeremy Roenick, but he is not advising him to pursue other playing options, such as the minor leagues.

"There's no up side for him," Abbott said. "He's a premier player and he's only 24. A player like him has more to lose than to gain. No one's going to pay him enough to warrant the risk."

Attempts to play outside the NHL are likely to be a cause for some contention.

"Sure, it will cause some ruffled feathers," Abbott said. "Obviously this will not make people happy, but legally speaking, the players are willing to honor their contracts. I don't think (NHL Commissioner) Gary Bettman has used the word lockout per se, but that is what we have. No law is going to stop a player from making a living.

"Sure, teams won't like it. They'll yell and scream, but who's to worry? . . . Suppose they win (the labor dispute), is it going to be wonderful for players?"

Carnback, 26, who played professionally in Sweden for six seasons, scored 12 goals and had 11 assists for the Ducks in his first full NHL season. But Abbott said he is advising him to play abroad since he is still trying to develop into a front-line NHL player and because he was preparing to play out the option year of a contract that was scheduled to pay him $200,000 this season. Without a solid showing this season, he isn't likely to be resigned by the Ducks. And with such possibilities as non-guaranteed contracts and reduced rosters at issue in the dispute, the future for players such as Carnback is uncertain.

"He wants to play. He's 26 years old, he's in his option year and he doesn't know where he stands," Abbott said. "I frankly feel if you're 27 or 28 and have five or six years in the league, you don't lose your game if you don't play for a year. I think kids like Carnback and a few others have a right to make a living.

"No one's looking to get in an argument between the Ducks and a Swedish team, but he's an option-year kid, not Paul Kariya. If he goes and plays, he may come back better. The downside if he doesn't play somewhere, is what would he do next year?"

Duck Note

Coach Ron Wilson said he expects to help coach some players with the San Diego Gulls during the lockout and might join the team on the road.

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