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Crosby eyes Europe; Letang lands in Russia

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By Josh Yohe
Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 11:24 p.m.
 

Sidney Crosby's time in Pittsburgh could be down to a week.

The league has said it will cancel the season by Jan. 11 if no labor deal is reached. Multiple sources close to Crosby said Friday the Penguins' captain would quickly sign with a European team if the season is lost.

Crosby did not deny that at practice Friday.

“You wait this long, trying to be optimistic,” he said. “You can wait another week or however long until we know. What's another week? After that, I'll have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to do. At this point, I'm just worried about playing here.”

Pat Brisson, Crosby's agent, also did not deny that his client would play for a European team.

“Let's see what happens first,” Brisson said.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang signed with SKA St. Petersburg in Russia on Friday and will start playing in the Kontinental Hockey League immediately if the NHL season is canceled.

Letang had spent most of the lockout in his native Montreal, where he and his girlfriend are raising their newborn son.

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, the reigning NHL scoring champion and MVP, remains in Russia, where he is playing for his hometown Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. Malkin and Metallurg teammate Sergei Gonchar, a former Penguins defenseman, will not return to North America until the NHL announces a start date for training camp, both players said.

Many Penguins remain undecided about playing in Europe.

Right wing Pascal Dupuis played in Switzerland during the 2004-05 lockout, but that was during a different stage of his life.

“I had one kid then,” Dupuis said. “I have four now. We'll see. Hopefully we'll be playing in the NHL soon.”

Another veteran with a family here, left wing Matt Cooke, is unsure what path he will take if Bettman cancels the season.

“I have to sit down with my family and talk,” he said. “Kind of undecided at this point. Obviously there are options. I'll have to wait and see.”

Defenseman Deryk Engelland said he might return to Europe, where he played earlier this season. Other Penguins playing in Europe include forwards Tanner Glass and Dustin Jeffrey.

The biggest name, of course, would be Crosby.

He has remained low-key but firm about Europe since September. After missing 101 games during the past two seasons to concussion issues, the 25-year-old isn't about to miss more time during his prime.

“We'll all have a decision to make on when we're starting and where everybody is going,” Crosby said.

Note: A charity hockey game Wednesday at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown featuring current Penguins and former teammate Jordan Staal sold out in seven minutes Friday.

Staff writer Rob Rossi contributed. Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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