Pavelski, Wingels will be home for Christmas

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

San Jose forwards become the sixth and seventh Sharks to return to North America from Europe in the last month, potentially in the hope that the NHL lockout ends.

Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels are the latest in a long line of Sharks to return to North America after thus far spending the lockout playing for European clubs.

In addition to sustaining then recovering from a leg injury, Pavelski scored ten points in 15 games for the KHL's Dinamo Minsk. He also didn't get booted off the team for being out of shape which has to be seen as a positive. Wingels scored 22 points in 18 games for KooKoo (yes, the team is named KooKoo) of Finland's second-tier league. Wingels was also suspended twice, including for the hit 45 seconds into this video.

There's still a possibility both players return to their respective European leagues should the NHL cancel its season over the next few weeks. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told a Toronto radio station today that "sometime in mid-January" is the drop-dead date by which the NHL would likely flush the rest of its season if a deal is not agreed upon. It's a little hard to take that seriously considering there was talk of a 28-game regular season being played as late as February 2005 during the last lockout but hopefully the threats of litigation currently being posed by both sides will settle the dispute before anyone will have to consider a two-and-a-half month long season.

Apart from Pavelski and Wingels, Justin Braun, Douglas Murray, Logan Couture, T.J. Galiardi and Antti Niemi have all returned to North America from the European outposts in which they were plying their trade while locked out of the NHL. The only Sharks still overseas are Joe Thornton, Michal Handzus, Thomas Greiss and Jason Demers while Ryane Clowe remains behind the bench for the San Francisco Bulls and hinted at lacing up the skates if the season is wiped out.

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