Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin soon could be back on the ice together — in Russia.
Sid the Kid on Monday told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that playing in Europe during the NHL lockout is a more realistic possibility than a month ago when costly insurance premiums appeared to be the biggest obstacle for the Penguins captain.
"You know what? It’s a lot more possible right now," Crosby told the newspaper. "I probably hadn’t thought about it quite as much as I have the past few days.
"[A quick end to the lockout is] not looking too good."
While the high insurance costs remain — believed to be as much as $400,000 US per month — Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson had previously said his client would make a decision on Europe in late November or early December.
Tuesday is Day 73 of the lockout, which has resulted in the cancellation of games through Dec. 14 for a total of 422, including the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium and Jan. 27 all-star game in Columbus.
Malkin is playing for his hometown team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Brisson reportedly has spoken to numerous teams in Russia and Switzerland and isn't ruling out talks with teams in other countries.
The reigning NHL scoring champion has looked impressive in the Kontinental Hockey League with 33 points in 24 games.
In North America, there have been no labour talks in nearly a week, but it's believed representatives from the NHL and players' union will meet Wednesday. They would be joined by three U.S. federal mediators who have joined the negotiations.
"Hopefully, we can still get a good chunk of games in, if we figure something out," Crosby told the Post-Gazette. The Penguins star has steadfastly supported the NHL Players' Association before and during the lockout, .
Crosby was due to make $7.5 million US in the final year of his contract. His 12-year, $104-million deal signed in July kicks in for the 2013-14 season.