2004-05 lockout: 8 NHLers storm other leagues

With negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA not exactly on the fast track to resolution, surely the thoughts of most NHL fans are focused on a potential lockout.

While the league and its fans suffered during the last lockout in 2004-05 and would suffer once again if the 2012-13 season is cut short, some NHLers might try to replicate what other players did during the previous lockout. Some NHLers flew overseas while others played in leagues below the NHL in North America to keep their skating legs moving.

Let’s take a look back at eight current players who took their talents elsewhere during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

Rick Nash, HC Davos, NLA

Then with the Columbus Blue Jackets, franchise forward Rick Nash proved that he was a worldly hockey talent by scoring 26 goals and 46 points in 44 regular-season games overseas. Nash was even better in the league’s postseason as he went on to put up 11 more points (nine goals, two assists) in 15 games.

With the help of NHL superstar Joe Thornton, Nash led HC Davos to a Swiss championship victory as well as the 2004 Spengler Cup.

Joe Thornton, HC Davos, NLA

There are several reasons why Nash enjoyed success with HC Davos, but none more important than Joe Thornton.

With Davos, Thornton and Nash struck incredible chemistry, which led to a ton of points being put up on the board. Thornton displayed his artistry with the puck along with the ability to produce on a consistent basis.

Thornton thrived on an individual level as he had 54 points (10 goals, 44 assists) in 40 regular-season games and another 24 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 14 postseason games en route to an NLA title.

He also wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves:

Scott Gomez, Alaska Aces, ECHL

While some players went overseas, others dropped down a level or two in order to remain in game shape.

One such player was then New Jersey Devils forward Scott Gomez. Gomez, an Alaskan native, signed with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces so that he could keep playing hockey.

As the face of the franchise, Gomez scored 86 points (13 goals, 73 assists) in 61 regular-season games while also picking up four points in four postseason games. Unfortunately for Gomez, he suffered a broken pelvis when Bakersfield Condors’ enforcer Ashlee Langdone checked him into an open bench door in Game 4 of the Pacific Division semifinals.

While with the Aces, Gomez said that playing for the team was about giving back to his hometown.

“It’s been great for me and my family and friends,” he said at the time. “I wanted to give back to my community, give back to the people who helped me get where I’m at.”

Henrik Zetterberg, Timra IK, SEL

The 2004-05 season would have been Detroit Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg third in the NHL.

Due to the lockout, however, Zetterberg opted to go back home to Sweden to play with Timra IK of the Swedish Elite League (SEL). Zetterberg had played with the club for two seasons before heading to North America to join the Detroit Red Wings.

Zetterberg had a successful season in the SEL as he scored 50 points (19 goals, 31 assists) in 50 regular-season games. He added eight points (six goals and two assists) in seven postseason games.

Erik Cole, Eisbaren Berlin, DEL

Prior to winning the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2005-06 season, Erik Cole was a champion overseas during the NHL lockout in 2004-05.

Cole went to Eisbaren Berlin in the DEL and showed his offensive talents can travel overseas. In 39 regular-season games, he scored six goals and added 21 assists for 27 points.

The hardworking and talented forward was especially good in the DEL postseason as he scored six points in eight games. Cole, the most valuable DEL player during the postseason, led Eisbaren Berlin to its first DEL championship

Vincent Lecavalier, Ak Bars Kazan, RSL

After winning the Stanley Cup in 2003-04, the Tampa Bay Lightning hoped to keep momentum going the following season.

Unfortunately the lockout stole a season away from a team at its peak. However, that did not stop Lightning superstar forward Vincent Lecavalier, who scored the game winning overtime goal for Team Canada against the Czech Republic in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, from taking his talents to the Russian Superleague.

Lecavalier ended up playing for Ak Bars Kazan and scored 16 points (seven goals and nine assists) in 30 regular-season games. Unfortunately for Lecavalier, the team finished fourth in the league and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Jason Spezza, Binghamton Senators, AHL

While Gomez went to the ECHL during the lockout, Jason Spezza, then just 21 years of age with the Ottawa Senators, went down to the American Hockey League to get some more seasoning with the Binghamton Senators.

In hindsight, this may have been Spezza’s best decision of his career as he had an unbelievable season. Spezza scored 117 points (32 goals, 85 assists) to win the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the league’s leading scorer during the regular season.

For his fine play that year in the AHL, Spezza was also awarded the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s most valuable player. It was a season that helped give Spezza confidence to be a star player in the NHL.

Michael Cammalleri, Manchester Monarchs, AHL

When it comes to the 2004-05 AHL season, another NHL forward had nearly as good of a season as Spezza did.

That player was then Los Angeles Kings property Michael Cammalleri, who spent the lockout with the Manchester Monarchs. Cammalleri posted 109 points (46 goals, 63 assists) and finished second in the league in scoring to Spezza.

Cammalleri, however, did end up winning the Willie Marshall Award for leading the AHL in goals. He was also a starter in the 2005 AHL All-Star Game and was named to the second all-star team.

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