One-hundred days… This is how long the NHL lockout will be if both parties, owners of the franchises and players’ union, will not come to an agreement in a few more weeks. The lockout began just around a month before its scheduled pre-season opener with the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). And since then, we’ve been deprived of over a third of the season (422 regular games), including the yearly Hall of Fame game, the Thanksgiving Showdown, the Winter Classic, and the All-Star weekend. How much longer do we have to wait?
While you may find some Minnesota Wild players either playing for their AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, such as the Jason Zucker and Kris Foucault, in the Euro Leagues, like Nicklas Backstrom playing for KHL’s Dynamo Moscow, or not playing at all, there’s this one player taking a slightly different approach. He is the Half-Yonsei right-winger, Devin Setoguchi.
“The Gooch,” as he is sometimes called by his teammates, has recently signed a deal with L.A. Kings affiliate, the Ontario Reign. While the ECHL isn’t a popular choice for locked-out players to go, being two rungs below the NHL and avoiding having to take someone else’s spot on any team’s roster, he really didn’t have a hard time signing the contract as the Reign’s first NHL-based player.
Although he gets to play along longtime acquaintances, friends, and past opponents, is this enough of a reason to join the ECHL? Yes, they are a well-knit team, having already known one another, but in a league that’s pretty physical, you can’t help but wonder how many cheap shots might be targeted at him, being an absolutely large fish in an aquarium of guppies. Even if he was named as the star player after his very first game with the Reign by virtue of his two assists, the question still looms if he can keep his level of play up to NHL standards while waiting out the current lockout. While any sort of playing time is better than none at all, is it really worth it?
The Wild has positioned themselves for a possible resurgence with the signing of free-agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. This definitely strengthens the current roster and it will be exciting to watch as we finally get to line out the Xcel Energy Arena. But in order for such a resurgence to occur, all of the current roster must be in tip-top shape to compete. Whether Seto’s renewed sense of responsibility may or may not determine the fate of the Wild, it would still be best for the team if he’d keep his level of play as high as possible while not lowering it just for the sake of being able to play.