DULUTH, Ga. -- The Gwinnett Gladiators are already getting calls from agents of NHL players looking for a team during the NHL lockout.
Gladiators General Manager Steve Chapman wouldn't name names but said he wants to think carefully before signing anyone from the NHL.
"I think a lot of us feel like this isn't going to last the whole season, that eventually smoother minds will prevail, and they'll figure out how to get this done," Chapman said. "When that happens, you'll lose those players."
The Gladiators are a minor league hockey team in the ECHL, which is similar to the double-A level in baseball.
It's one step below the AHL, two steps below the NHL, where some players will be looking for a chance to stay in the game if their season doesn't start on time.
"[NHL players] gonna be pushed down to the American Hockey League, so the American Hockey League will be pushed down to our level," Chapman said. "It creates a talent push downward, whereas it's usually going upward."
"I have a problem with taking a kid who's trying to catch on and work his way up the ladder losing a job because a bunch of millionaires [who] can't get along at the top," he added.
The NHL lockout is in its third day. The league and players' union are at odds over salaries, contracts and revenue sharing.
If there's no agreement, the NHL season won't start in October.
Training camp for the Gladiators starts on Sept. 28. The first home game is Oct. 19.
"You've got to make sure your team is built for the long haul and not just for two months," Chapman said.