Concern grow over a possible NHL lockout, players still preparing in hopes season begins on time, Coyotes have shown signs of staying power, and Quebec’s premier warns a vote for the PQ would hurt efforts to bring the NHL back to Quebec City.

STARTRIBUNE.COM/CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks players are preparing for a season which seems unlikely to start on time. Several of the players questioned about playing in Europe if there’s a lockout (Dany Heatley, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland, Jamal Mayers) said they would consider that option.

Heatley among those willing to play in Europe again if there’s an NHL lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All NHL players are following that game plan. Prepare as though training camp will begin on time, but consider other options if it doesn’t. A number of them will head to Europe, while those who don’t have to clear waivers will likely report to their respective teams minor league affiliates.

EDMONTON SUN: The headline to Robert Tychkowski’s column says what all NHL fans are thinking: “NHL lockout makes absolutely no sense”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both sides can avoid this if there’s a willingness to compromise. If not, another lockout is inevitable.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Despite their ownership woes, the Phoenix Coyotes have proven over the past three seasons they can overachieve as an “underprivileged team”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A number of factors have contributed to this. They’re well-managed and well-coached, possess superb goaltending, strong on-ice leadership, and a good mix of veterans and youth who’ve fully bought into their defensive system.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Embattled Quebec premier Jean Charest warns a victory for the Parti Quebecois in the upcoming provincial election could jeopardize efforts to bring an NHL franchise back to Quebec City.