B.J. Crombeen to join Orlando Solar Bears

RW B.J. Crombeen becomes the sixth Tampa Bay Lightning player to join another club during the 2012 NHL Lockout.

Forward B.J. Crombeen, acquired from the St. Louis Blues over the summer, has yet to play an NHL game with the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise. No preseason games, no regular season games. The reputation of Crombeen in his days with the Blues had preceded him and it looked like the Bolts had finally added some extra grit.

Since NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman persuaded NHL owners to lock out players for the third time in 16 years last September, Crombeen has often been cited in local media pieces about labor negotiations with thanks to his status in the NHLPA as part of the Players Association negotiating committee.

Crombeen has once again been thrust into the news today, but it has nothing (and everything) to do with the state of the NHL and NHLPA's CBA impasse. Crombeen has signed a contract with the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears. Terms aren't disclosed in the Solar Bear's press release about the signing, but it is likely a for-the-duration-of-the-lockout like deal that other Lightning players have signed (Nate Thompson - with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL, Brendan Mikkelson in the Swedish Elite League, Adam Hall with a German hockey club, Anders Lindback with a Finnish hockey team, and Victor Hedman with a KHL club).

What bothers me about this deal isn't risk or anything like that. It just makes me further question where NHL/Players Association negotiations are at right now. Gary Bettman wants to take a break (read: run out the clock and force players who want to play this season to accept owners CBAdemands) with talks... Perhaps, at this point, we will not see negotiations resume until it's too late?