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Rangers work out and weigh options

Michael Del Zotto warms up prior to a

Michael Del Zotto warms up prior to a game against the Florida Panthers. (Nov. 23, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Casually leaning on a parked car, Michael Del Zotto was asked how much different Friday's informal 90-minute workout with teammates had been compared with what would have been Day 1 of training camp, including Rangers coach John Tortorella's notorious endurance tests.

"Well, at least today I'm able to walk afterward," said Del Zotto, who along with about a dozen locked-out colleagues had rented ice time at the MSG Training Center, where camp would have been held.

But the 22-year-old defenseman, like his teammates, was discouraged by the labor impasse that has shut down the NHL, with no talks scheduled and the postponement of the Oct. 11 start of the regular season a distinct possibility.

"It's terrible," said Del Zotto, who is returning home to Stouffville, Ontario, next week to skate with other displaced players or with Oshawa, his former OHL club, and consider his next move, which may include a deal overseas. More than 60 players have signed contracts with KHL, Swiss, Czech and German teams, including new Rangers forward Rick Nash, who is playing for HC Davos in Switzerland.

"But it's not easy, you can't just pick up and go," Del Zotto said, referring to costly medical insurance, which players must acquire.

Nonetheless, several Rangers are examining alternatives to the joint workouts and were encouraged by Friday's ruling from Sweden's Competition Authority that a Swedish Elite League decision to bar NHL players during the lockout is illegal, opening the door for signings.

Swedish forward Carl Hagelin is weighing a return to Sodertalje, where he played for three seasons before attending the University of Michigan. "I'll probably take another week to decide, but the way things are going, you have to look into it," Hagelin said.

And reports from Sweden said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was unavailable for comment, has discussed the possibility of returning to his former club, the Frolunda Indians, where his twin brother, Joel, is the team's captain.

"It's good for players to have another option," noted Brad Richards, who said players likely would skate here three times next week.

Marc Staal, who also did not rule out playing in Europe, said, "It doesn't look like this [labor stalemate] is going to end quickly. It's gotten ugly."

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