Oklahoma City Barons: Barons' 'Fab Four' closer to spending rest of the season in OKC

Deadline is likely weeks away, but the NHL players' union and owners still have differences to iron out.
by Michael Baldwin Published: December 3, 2012
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photo - Justin Schultz of the Oklahoma City Barons tries to keep the puck away from Mike Sgarbossa of the Lake Erie Monsters during AHL hockey game at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, October 23, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Justin Schultz of the Oklahoma City Barons tries to keep the puck away from Mike Sgarbossa of the Lake Erie Monsters during AHL hockey game at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, October 23, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Hall, Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are allowed to play in the AHL during the lockout because they're still in their three-year entry-level contracts.

Nugent-Hopkins was the No. 1 overall pick in 2011. Hall was the No. 1 overall pick in 2010. Eberle, a first-round pick in 2008, played in last year's NHL All-Star Game.

The other cornerstone player is rookie defenseman Justin Schultz. The former University of Wisconsin star leads the AHL in scoring.

Led by the Oilers' Fab Four, the Barons recently went eight consecutive games without losing in regulation before a loss Friday night at Houston.

“As much as I like it here (in Oklahoma City), and like playing with the guys, I want to play in the NHL,” Hall said. “That's the best league in the world. We want to hone our skills against the best players in the world.

“We're having a lot of fun here. We've been playing good hockey lately. Nuge, Jordan and myself are having a lot of fun playing on a line together. But we want to be in the NHL at some point this year, playing in front of our fans.”

NHL games already have been canceled through Dec. 14 as well as the Jan. 1 Winter Classic and the All-Star Game.

Two major issues are how to close a $182 million gap in the NHL Players Association's “make whole” salaries proposal in addition to how quickly to transition to a 50-50 split of hockey related revenues. Players received 57 percent in the previous contract.

“Being in Edmonton would be the best-case scenario,” Eberle said. “If the season were to get started at some point it would be pretty exciting. But with the lockout, this is the next best scenario for us to be down here working together.

“This gives us a chance to develop some chemistry on and off the ice, a lot of key guys that will be in Edmonton for years to come. If we can continue to win here it's going to be fun.”

by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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