Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza has signed to play in Switzerland, and by all accounts the insurance costs for for protecting his NHL contract will essentially wipe out whatever he will be getting paid.
So the old adage that “we would play the game for free” does indeed hold some water, at least over the short term.
Again, these optics don’t look good for the NHLPA, as the more players that play for reduced salaries, the more fans in North America will be willing to turn on them. In a time where there is some public sympathy for the players (or at least more for them than the owners), signings like this might come off as snubbing their nose at their main fans.
I know it is a market-based economy and players want their share, but plying their trade essentially for nothing just to keep in shape for the NHL is bound to rub a lot of NHL fans the wrong way.