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Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews open to playing in Europe

11-7-2010---Chicago Blackhawks lose EdmontOilers 2-1----Oiler right winger Ales Hemsky finds himself between Hawks right winger Patrick Kane center Jonathan Toews

11-7-2010---Chicago Blackhawks lose to the Edmonton Oilers 2-1----Oiler right winger Ales Hemsky finds himself between Hawks right winger Patrick Kane and center Jonathan Toews as they try to control the puck in nthe 2nd period. Sun-Times photo by Tom Cruze

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Updated: October 1, 2012 5:59PM

Some of the best hockey players in the world are playing in leagues that aren’t.

It happened not too long ago when the NHL’s 2004-05 season was lost due to an ugly labor dispute that resulted in the league’s current salary cap.

And now, it may happen again as another labor dispute may force players to look elsewhere again if they want to continue to play.

Blackhawks star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are among those who would consider playing in Europe if a lengthy lockout wipes out the 2012-13 season.

Toews’ and Kane’s agent Pat Brisson informed the Sun-Times via email on Thursday that the Hawks’ two young stars would consider playing in Europe “under the right circumstances and appropriate time.”

In other words, they will wait and see what happens as owners and the NHL Players’ Association continue negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement.

But with the owners and NHLPA seemingly still far apart and the current CBA expiring on Sept. 15, multiple players have suggested that playing in Europe is a real option if a labor dispute shuts down the season.

Europeans teams already have approached Brisson about the potential availability of Toews and Kane (and others) if there’s a long lockout.

“Of course we have without being specific,” Brisson said. “Both players are some of the best in the world.”

The owners made the last CBA proposal on Tuesday — one that would reportedly lower the $70.2 million salary cap by $12 million for the coming season and consequently hurt teams like the Hawks. A counter-proposal from the NHLPA may come Friday.

By all accounts, little progress has been made, and a lockout of some length looks inevitable. There were no negotiations on Thursday in New York.

Revenue sharing remains a sticking point for each side. Making matters more complicated is that the owners and NHLPA have differing views on how hockey-related revenue is even calculated.

The Hawks’ preseason is scheduled to open on Sept. 25 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Hawks’ annual training camp festival is scheduled for Sept. 22.

Toews and Kane are the two faces of the Hawks’ franchise. They each have three years remaining on five-year deals that each have $6.3 million salary cap hits.

If it comes to it, seeing Toews, Kane and possibly others play in Europe would definitely worry the Hawks organization and fans.

But owners are seeking significant financial concessions from the players and many of them simply just want to play.

Brisson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Thursday that Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby also would consider playing in Europe if the season is lost.

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