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Klima mulls German option

Left wing Petr Klima could become the first Lightning regular to find employment in another league during the NHL lockout.

The 29-year-old said he is trying to make a deal with a team in Germany.

"I don't want to say which team because it's not 100 percent yet," Klima said Monday. "But I think it's pretty much set up."

Klima, who defected from Czechoslovakia in 1985, said representatives from the Czech Republic asked him to play in his homeland.

"I turned them down," he said. "I wasn't interested playing back at home. I wanted to try playing in a different country."

Klima, who does not speak German, said he will leave for Germany tonight. He has been skating regularly during the lockout. The players were told not to skate for the first two weeks of October, but Klima was given permission by the players union because he was rehabilitating from knee surgery.

Tony Esposito, the Lightning's director of hockey operations, said he received a call from Klima's agent Monday requesting permission for Klima to play in another league.

"He doesn't need our permission," Esposito said. "He can do what he wants. But we're not giving him our permission either. I don't like what I see with these guys jeopardizing their careers. They better be getting supplemental insurance."

No players are covered by their teams' insurance policies since commissioner Gary Bettman made them part of cutbacks beginning Sept. 1.

During the lockout, in its 25th day, several European players have sought employment in their homelands. Los Angeles' Jari Kurri, Winnipeg's Teemu Selanne, St. Louis' Esa Tikkanen and Chicago's Christian Ruuttu are playing in Finland. Pittsburgh's Martin Straka is playing in the Czech Republic.

Pittsburgh's Shawn McEachern became the first North American-born player to find hockey employment in Europe.

Klima, who stands to lose all or part of his $750,000 salary this season depending upon the length of the lockout, said: "I think in a couple of days you will start to see more guys looking. (The lockout) is getting a little bit ridiculous."

Lightning wing Marc Bureau said he called his agent Monday about the possibility of playing in another league.

"If I get an offer, I don't think I would hesitate to play," he said. "Right now all I do is go to the gym in the morning and skate a little. I'm starting to look more like Arnold Schwarzenegger than a hockey player."

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