Locked-out Wild winger Devin Setoguchi says he is taking a leave of absence from the ECHL Ontario Reign until it is determined whether the NHL lockout ends or results in the cancelation of the 2012-13 season.
I texted Setoguchi tonight because the Reign had announced that he had been suspended indefinitely without providing a reason. He called me right away to clarify the situation.
Setoguchi, who turns 26 New Year's Day, says it's as simple as he decided not to play during the holidays and there was no incident that caused a suspension. He says it was announced as a suspension so this way the Reign doesn't have to pay him but retains his rights in case he decides to come back if the NHL season is canceled.
"It's not like I got suspended for doing something," Setoguchi said. "[The coach] wants to keep me on the roster, but this way no one else can pick me up."
Setoguchi, acquired by the Wild from the San Jose Sharks in the Brent Burns trade in June 2011, said he is returning to San Jose, where he will skate with locked-out players there. If the lockout continues, he will then decide whether or not to return to the Reign, Setoguchi said.
Setoguchi scored 13 points in 10 games for the southern California team. Setoguchi scored 19 goals in his first year with the Wild in 2011-12.
I emailed back and forth today with agent Eustace King, and he says defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who returned from Switzerland with a groin injury, is getting better. He says if training camp started by Jan. 1, he'd be close to being ready. If the lockout continues, Spurgeon would then decide whether or not to return to the SCL Tigers. He is only under contract until late January, so he would need a new contract.
As of now, there has been no contact between the NHL and NHLPA since last Friday. The NHLPA is currently conducting a vote that will end Friday to determine whether or not the union will be authorized to file a disclaimer of interest (dissolve the union) if it so chooses by Jan. 2. The vote is expected to pass.
Then we will find out what happens next. My hope is that the NHL, which has preemptively filed a complaint in federal court against the NHLPA and an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB, and NHLPA would take one more kick at the bargaining can before the union is dissolved. That's because once this gets into the court system, I think we're cooked.
You can read my story on this subject that was in Tuesday's paper here.
The NHL will likely cancel more games by the end of the week. In order to get in a 48-game season, one assumes a season would have to start around Jan. 15. For that to happen, a CBA would need to be reached around Jan. 3-5, in my opinion. Time is ticking away.