On Friday, it was reported the pivot would begin skating with Lugano of the Swiss-based National League, which was later confirmed by Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.
"He called me today just to say that he is going to Europe," Holland told Greg Kruppa of The Detroit News. "Double-A’s going to Europe."
The highly publicized stalemate between the two sides has always had a European connection, with Athanasiou reportedly considering a lucrative one-year deal with a KHL-based club.
Since negotiations have dragged into the regular season, and with Detroit having minimal salary cap space for the 2017-18 campaign, it seems increasingly likely that Athanasiou will be spending more time in European rinks than on NHL ice surfaces.
Athanasiou has no commitment with any club overseas, but is weighing all his options.