BRANDON — Perhaps no Lightning player is anticipating the 2012-13 season as much as Anders Lindback, whose career is at a turning point.
After two years as a goalie backup in Nashville, the 24-year-old is expected to be Tampa Bay's next No. 1. But after the NHL on Sunday locked out its players because a new collective bargaining agreement is not in place, Lindback's future is on hold.
"I want to get started right away, but you have to do what's best for the players," Lindback said. "Whatever happens, it's part of it. You have to do what it takes to stay ready."
What players will do and where they will do it while the league and players association hammer out a deal is the next part of this drama.
Will Lightning players continue gathering for informal workouts at the Ice Sports Forum? If they do, they will have to pay the rink for ice time and have no access to the team locker room or trainers.
Will players go home? Captain Vinny Lecavalier returned to his native Montreal on Friday to pick up his wife, Caroline, and their two kids but said he might stay in Canada.
Lindback; forwards Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone, and defensemen Sami Salo and Victor Hedman said they are contemplating playing in Europe.
St. Louis, who played in Switzerland during the 2004-05 lockout, said his negotiations are ongoing. Stamkos said his have been preliminary.
For now, though, Stamkos said, "Some guys have plans to stay here for a bit and see what happens. I'd like to work out with the guys. This is a good group we have here."
Said defenseman Brendan Mikkelson: "I'm not going to change anything. I'm going to get ready like the season is going to start on time until they tell us otherwise."
That time may soon be coming. According to Canada's Globe and Mail, the NHL is offering 49 percent of hockey-related revenue to the players in 2012-13, 48 percent in 2013-14 and 47 percent in the final four years of a six-year deal.
The players, who received 57 percent last season, are asking for 54.3 percent in 2012-13 and not less than 52.2 percent in the rest of a five-year deal.
The sides, the newspaper said, are about $1 billion apart.
"You've got to hope for the best, I guess," Purcell said. "If you get (mad), you'll just drive yourself crazy. But it is a terrible situation, not good for anyone."
The organization, for example, can no longer send players to team-sponsored community events, meaning coach Guy Boucher and general manager Steve Yzerman likely will be drafted into service.
Yzerman and the coaches also will be in Syracuse, N.Y., to watch training camp for Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate.
"I'm hopeful," Yzerman said, "both parties can come to an agreement and we can start the season on time."
In the meantime, the Lightning has emailed season ticket holders a message from chief executive officer Tod Leiweke asking for support and patience.
As for the players, "There's no structure in your life right now," Purcell said. "You're just kind of sitting around waiting. It's just a different feeling. You don't want to skate too much and burn yourself out, but you want to stay on the ice. You've got to find that balance to keep yourself sane."
Bottom line, Lindback said, "I've had a good summer. I want to start playing some games."