VANCOUVER — Chris Higgins and the Sedin brothers won’t follow the lead of Vancouver Canucks teammate Cory Schneider and head for Europe as the NHL lockout drags through its 11th week.
Higgins is concerned about injury while the twins remain steadfast they won’t go home to Sweden until the season is officially wiped out.
“No, I am not looking for a place to play,” Higgins said Thursday. “I don’t think I could live with myself if I got hurt over there, God forbid. I’d rather be a little out of game shape than be coming back hurt. So that’s how I kind of look at it. I hope for the best for the players already over there.”
Higgins, the twins and free-agent defenceman Jim Vandermeer were the only locked-out NHLers skating Thursday at UBC. There was no goalie on the ice, not even a shooter-tutor, so the players hung a puck bag in the net and tried to hit that during their drills.
Higgins admitted he is finding it tough to maintain his enthusiasm.
“Well, you just have to keep finding it every day,” he said. “When you wake up, you try to find it. But what makes it easy coming down here is seeing how hard the guys work — and they’re better players than you. If they are working that hard, it pushes you to be a better player. I think we have a good, self-motivating group here.
“As grim as the outlook is, it’s still fun to be out there with them even if it’s just four of us. I also keep thinking we’re just a week away, just a week away, from getting this thing settled.”
Henrik Sedin, meanwhile, said he stays in touch with former teammate Markus Naslund via email but hasn’t spoken to him since the summer. Naslund, of course, is now general manager of Modo, the Swedish Elite League team in their hometown of Ornskoldsvik. The twins have a standing invitation to join Modo.
“It’s been at least a couple of weeks since the last time I emailed Markus,” Henrik explained. “We’re in the same spot as we were two months ago. We will wait until they cancel everything before we go.”
The Canucks’ captain chuckled when asked if he was having trouble keeping his chin up.
“It’s not that,” he replied. “It’s just tough to come up with drills with only four guys. So it’s one of those days where maybe you do a little more cardio off the ice and spend more time in the gym. Then you come on the ice and work on some skills. We’ll be back skating with the UBC guys on Monday.”
Henrik also admitted he was going to miss having Schneider around for their on-ice sessions.
“We’re sad, for sure,” he winked. “It was nice to have Cory here but that’s the way it is.”
THOSE FIGHTING SWISS: Schneider practised with his new Swiss League team on Thursday and will make his first start for Ambri-Piotta on Saturday against Kloten.
Schneider held a news conference after the practice and was startled by some kind of explosion from a nearby mine.
“What the hell was that,” Schneider said.
“Ah … I forgot to warn you,” a team official deadpanned. “We are at war.”
— With a file from Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun
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