On the 60th day of the NHL lockout, Jason Chimera became the seventh Capital to head overseas.
Chimera agreed to a deal with HC Chomutov in the Czech Extraliga that will allow him to return to North America whenever the lockout ends. The veteran winger was one of only a handful of players who remained in the Washington area over the past two months and was happy to spend extra time with his wife and two young children.
After weeks of practices, though, Chimera decided it was time to play games again according to his agent, Allan Walsh.
“There have been some other offers that have come his way, but I don’t think he was ready to go earlier. He wanted to stay with his family and see how the negotiations were going,” Walsh said in a phone interview. “Now he’s not really caring how the negotiations are going, he wanted to get into games and he found a good spot. Whether he’s over there for a week, two weeks or the rest of the year he’s in good shape.”
Chimera, 33, will join fellow locked-out NHLers Michael Frolik and Milan Jurcina, his former teammate in Washington, in Chomutov. During the 2004-05 lockout, Chimera played 15 games for Varese HC in Italy.
Negotiations have stalled between the NHL and NHLPA. The two sides last met Sunday have not scheduled any future sessions and more games may be canceled in the coming weeks. But Walsh said Chimera’s decision was based on getting into game-shape not the status of the talks.
“We’re at the point where, if there’s going to be a season things will have to come together quite quickly,” Walsh said. “The NHL has already said that once there is an agreement, training camp would be very short — six, seven days with no exhibition games. Players who have been playing games may have an advantage in that case.”