Hal Gill has a chip on his shoulder.
The 38-year-old NHL defenceman was wounded emotionally when the Nashville Predators bought him out of the final year of his contract last June. And he's still perturbed.
That's why the veteran was all in when the Philadelphia Flyers called to see if he was interested in attending training camp on a professional tryout basis.
After 1,212 combined NHL regular-season and playoff games, three conference final trips and a Stanley Cup championship with the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins, Gill could have retired. But he's not ready for Easy Street just yet.
"I have to be honest with you, I'm not there yet," Gill said, when asked if he considered retirement this past summer. "Once that fire goes, it's time to go.
"But especially after last year, getting the buyout, I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder and a bit pissed off. So [retirement] hasn't crossed my mind yet."
Gill is not alone. There are several veteran players (see below) sprinkled across training camps, hoping to impress enough to land a contract for the 2013-14 NHL season. There are even more big-name unrestricted free agents like Brenden Morrow, Simon Gagne, Tom Gilbert, Jamie Langenbrunner and Jose Theodore still looking for employment.
The long unemployment line was something that was expected. It's fallout from the four-month lockout and seeing the salary cap reduced from $70.2 million to $64.3 million.
Despite his experience, his penalty-killing prowess, shot-blocking success, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound Gill is no shoo-in to crack the Flyers roster. The Flyers have to shed some salary to get to the upper limit of $64.3 million before the start of the season.
Philadelphia has been trying to rebuild its blue-line since Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn steered the Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup final. Pronger (injured) and Carle (free agency) are gone.
In has come free agent Mark Streit to help out the top four and the Flyers power play. That leaves Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann, Bruno Gervais, Erik Gustafsson and Andrej Meszaros to fill out the other defenceman spots.
Meszaros, 27, is the wild card. He is coming off reconstructive shoulder surgery, but the Slovak has looked healthy and good in camp.
"Obviously, you want to be on a team and with a contact, but this is the next best thing," Gill said in describing his situation. "I'm here and I'll do what I can to help."
The Flyers were not in a position to make any promises to Gill, other than he'll get in a few pre-season games.
The old high-school quarterback, who has three children with his wife Anne, remarked that, if anything, participating in Flyers training camp will enable him to get into shape in case the Philadelphia blue-line or another team suffers an early-season injury.
Here is a glance at the players attending NHL training camps on a tryout basis:
Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC
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