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Lafleur: If players don’t like the NHL anymore, let them leave

Oct 15, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT

Guy LaFleur Getty Images

Good riddance, says Guy LaFleur. Those players that want to stay in Europe instead of returning to the NHL when the lockout ends should be free do just that.

“Let them stay there, it will make more room for players from Quebec and North Americans,” LaFleur said last week at a press conference in his hometown of Thurso, Quebec.

He added: “As a supporter and former player, I do not care for players who want to stay in Europe. It’s their choice.”

Washington’s Alex Ovechkin has threatened to stay in Russia should a new CBA result in his salary being cut.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov thinks the KHL could become the preferred league for Russians.

“I think some of the players may not return to the NHL because you have everything here and major companies are going to pay the top players here big money. And, especially for Russians players who can play at home in front of their own fans and families and [earn] even bigger money than they have in the National Hockey League,” said Bryzgalov.

Whether players currently under contract to NHL clubs could actually follow through on that threat is another thing.

Regardless, LaFleur doesn’t sound too sympathetic for the plight of the NHLPA.

“The players are very fortunate to have the opportunity to play and make millions of dollars,” he said. “I’m happy for them, but on the other hand, they must realize something else: As athletes, they cannot earn more than the owners.”

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