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It shouldn’t have come to this. Thursday is supposed to be the start of another National Hockey League season, a day most ardent hockey fans look forward to all summer long. The Ottawa Senators should be at the Bell Centre taking their morning skate, then heading back to the hotel to rest up for their season opener against their second-most-hated division rival, the Montreal Canadiens.

With the NHL labour impasse looking more bleak by the day, the exodus of locked out players is about to pick up steam. On Thursday, Philadelphia Flyers star Claude Giroux — who had been skating with a group of players in Kanata to while away the days — and fellow local product Daniel Briere signed on with German squad Eisbaren Berlin. And with the cancellation of the first regular season NHL games a done deal, Senators centre Kyle Turris is also looking to Europe.