Condra signs on with German minor league team as European hockey jobs start drying up

Condra signs on with German minor league team as European hockey jobs start drying up
(Wayne Cuddington/Ottawa Citizen)

While most NHL players took a step back to analyse the owners’ latest proposal to end the lockout Tuesday, Ottawa Senators winger Erik Condra was in the air, on his way to play for a third division club in Fussen, Germany.

It’s a far cry from the NHL level and even two steps below the DEL, Germany’s top league where Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere are playing for the duration of the lockout.

“It’s not real good hockey,” said John Chabot, who played in Germany for nine years and is now running practice drills for the locked out players at the Bell Sensplex. “The DEL is probably the level of the American League and above, but when you go down further…well, the guys work during the day and then they play hockey.”

Chabot says the German third league is “almost like a development league for the DEL,” and the Fussen Leopards features 12 players who have yet to turn 20.

“I lot of it is junior hockey, guys coming to practice a couple of times a week when they can and playing games on the weekend. It’s low, low minors.”

There’s a good chance Condra might not be in Germany for long. Players were cautiously optimistic that the offer presented by NHL owners Tuesday, including a 50-50 split of hockey revenues, could at least represent a starting point for a resolution. While players were reluctant to speak on the record until they had combed over the finer points of the NHL’s proposal, there’s at least some hope where there used to only be anger and frustration at owners.

Until a deal is done, though, many players would rather be playing some form of competitive hockey, even if it’s at a third tier level.

“If (Condra) hadn’t taken that spot, I might have,” said Senators winger Colin Greening, speaking before hearing details of the NHL’s latest proposal. “The spots over there are pretty few and far between. Teams are worried about the lockout ending and their transfer cards. I don’t know all the ins and outs of it, but I know teams are hesitant to bring guys over because it could be a temporary situation. There’s insurance. There are a lot of factors that go into it.”

Greening says it’s important for him to find a competitive environment to stay sharp.

“I’ve been looking for quite awhile now,” he said. “It could be any day. It could be a month. Sometimes, it takes weeks to get it done.”

While expectations should be kept in check, Greening could also be suiting up in his Senators uniform in a few weeks, too.

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