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Politics and Lockouts Made Strange Bedfellows

October 7, 2012, 4:23 PM ET [31 Comments]
Today in Germany's DEL, Dallas Stars center Jamie Benn made his debut for the Hamburg Freezers. Despite the team's 4-3 shootout loss to Eisbaren Berlin, Benn had a highly successful debut; scoring one goal, assisting on another and always converting his attempt during the shootout.

Earlier this week, Eisbaren made a couple of big signings of its own, inking Philadelphia Flyers forwards Claude Giroux and Danny Briere to contracts during the NHL lockout. They will make their debuts for the Berlin team on Friday.

You may ask, what makes the Benn and Giroux/Briere signings in Europe any different than all the others that have taken place so far during the lockout?

The Hamburg Freezers and Eisbären Berlin clubs are both currently owed by Philip Anschutz and the Anschutz Entertainment Group. Aschutz also happens to be an NHL owner; owning the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

Don't get me wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Anschutz-owned European teams signing prominent locked-out NHL players. They want to improve their clubs and increase visibility, and the players want places to play until there's a settlement in the NHL. Hockey is a business, and this a business relationship in which all parties have a stake. I'm not about to criticize either side, because no one did anything "wrong."

Even so, I can't help but find it interesting that we have an NHL owner and NHL players (albeit ones not associated with the LA Kings) who have essentially entered into hockey-related business relationships together during the lockout. If it actually WERE Kings players who'd been signed to Anschutz-owned teams in Europe, I suspect there would have been a much stronger public reaction this past week.

Back later today... stay tuned.
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