The very real possibility of an extended NHL work stoppage has many Blackhawks considering embarking on the ultimate road trip.
Playing in Europe is an option if the league and the players' union can't come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Talks between the sides have broken off with the current deal set to expire Sept. 15, and the league has said it will lock out the players if a new CBA isn't in place by that date.
It could happen again.
"If that needs to be an option, certainly," Hawks forward Patrick Sharp said. "I grew up dreaming of playing in the NHL and I love playing for the Hawks, so that's obviously the first choice, (but) if it comes to that then that's always an option."
Following an offseason that began in April when they were bounced out of the playoffs in the first round by the Coyotes, a lockout could mean many more weeks — or months — until players hit the ice in an NHL game.
"You have (playing in Europe) in the back of your head," center Dave Bolland said. "You have to stay active and ready. You want to be in that game mode when you get that call."
Veteran Jamal Mayers, a 15-year veteran, has been through this before.
"I went over to Sweden (in 2004) and played for a few months," said Mayers, who had nine goals and 13 assists in 19 games with Hammarby IF in Stockholm. "It was a great experience. A lot of Swedish people speak English, so the lifestyle was an easy transition for me."
Mayers said he and agent Pat Brisson have not finalized any plans for a European destination , but another journey overseas is a possibility.
"I'm an older guy and I don't think it would be helpful for me to be sitting around," Mayers, 37, said. "I need to be playing (and) I want to stay ready. ... You just have to prepare and hope you're going to be playing (in Hawks) training camp, and if that doesn't happen you go to Step B."
Other Hawks have discussed the possibility of playing in Europe with Brisson saying in an email that young stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane would consider it "depending on timing, etc."
Hawks players remain hopeful a deal can be reached and their NHL season will begin on time on Oct. 13. If not, Europe may see an influx of players.
"I feel like you have to play somewhere," Sharp said.