Source: NHLPA to cover premiums

NEW YORK -- The NHLPA has stepped in to cover the premiums for players during the lockout, a union source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com. The measure was taken after the NHL asked insurers to cancel all coverage for players once the lockout began, according to several reports.

According to the union, the league's request was not a surprising one considering it made a similar one during the past two lockouts in 2004 and 1994. The players' association anticipated it would happen again when the current bargaining agreement expired last Saturday and has since made sure to devise a plan to suit its constituency.

The union will provide coverage to players and their families, including medical and dental, disability insurance, life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, and spousal life insurance.

According to a memo obtained by USA Today, the NHLPA advises players on the need to procure additional insurance if one should choose to play overseas. The NHLPA disability insurance does not cover their NHL contract.

"Players are responsible for securing their own disability insurance, either personally or through the team," the memo states, "to cover the value of your NHL SPC."

Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Joe Thornton and Rick Nash are among a significant contingent of players who already have agreed to deals with European clubs, both in Russia's Kontinental Hockey league and elsewhere.

Premiums on two-month policies range varying on a player's age, contract length and injury history, but can cost anywhere for $20,000 up to $70,000, one Toronto-based insurer estimated.