(Debora Robinson, Getty Images)
The Kontinental and National Hockey Leagues don’t have a transfer agreement in place that ensures the respective leagues honour the other’s contracts. What they have is an understanding, which sounds suitably Godfather-esque. This memorandum of understanding simply lays out the expectation that the two sides will respect contracts – you have your territory and I have mine – without it actually being illegal for a player to bolt one league and play for the other.
That’s why when there were rumblings that some players were planning on staying in the KHL even after the lockout ended, there was some concern that they were serious and that the KHL and NHL were about to throw down. But now the only player still holding out is Lubomir Visnovsky, which pretty much precludes any chance of a royal rumble. Visnovsky is just not the kind of player for whom the KHL will fight.
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I was reading a tweet (which I’ll get to farther down) from Pavel Lysenkov, a sports writer for Sovetsky Sport in Russia, when it occurred to me: he’s completely right – there’s no reason why players who left North America to go play in the KHL during the lockout shouldn’t participate in the league’s All-Star Game
When a lockout-ending agreement was reached, most KHLers with NHL deals immediately hopped on planes and headed back west, which sort of leaves the KHL and its All-Star Game with a sizable hole. Check out how the KHL top-10 scoring list currently sits:
That’s Malkin, Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, Kulemin and Datsyuk that they’re being deprived of. (Hey, by the way – it’s great that Alexei Kovalev was invited to training camp in Florida, but does anyone want to hit on Moyzakin? I wrote about him a couple months ago. He has 20 more points than league’s all-time leading scorer Alex Radulov.)
The point is, if we’re expecting a relationship of good will between the two leagues, this would have been a minor concession to make. Hell, the CBA isn’t even ratified yet, and can’t be until the weekend. We’re all up in arms over here because the K might not honour our agreement, yet the second we have a chance to do them a solid, we pull the rug out from under them.
The KHL All-Star Game is on Sunday, our Saturday, and as it currently sits, it looks like only Kovalchuk will take part. Here’s how the KHL’s vice president Vladimir Shalaev described Kovalchuk’s participation, from Tom Gulitti (with more help from Pavel Lysenkov) on the Devils blog Fire & Ice: Read the rest of this entry »
Well, the best so far, anyway.
I’ve been critical of Semyon Varlamov in the past, and until this season, it’s been somewhat justified. He’s been fine enough, but by last year he was expected to be something more than “fine enough,” and he posted a 2.59 GAA and a .913 save percentage, which is just under league average.
BUT HO! Ho, ho, he’s off to a hell of a start this season.
He’s gotten into 12 games for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv (Vitaly Kolesnik has played 13, Curtis Sanford 8), and, well, here’s how he’s played: Read the rest of this entry »
Pic from Sportsnet.ca
When Nicklas Backstrom decided to head across the pond to play with his long-time linemate Alexander Ovechkin, nobody was surprised. What they were surprised about was his choice of number – he went with 99, the sacred, ever-cherished number of The Great Wayne Gretzky. How dare he!
Those in the know are aware that 99 is the only number that isn’t just retired by one NHL team, but is retired by all of them. It’s supposed to be disrespectful to wear it anywhere, which is basically the opposite of the NBA, where every great player who came up after MJ wore 23 as a sign of respect (though some, like Lebron, have switched to their own number since – it’s better for the brand, and all).
So the kerfuffle on the internet was, is it cool to wear the number 99 when you’re not in the NHL, or is it just implied you shouldn’t wear it anywhere? Was Nicklas Backstrom wrong to choose it?
Well, it turns out he didn’t chose it at all, so everyone can shut up. Read the rest of this entry »
And so it was late last week that another Eastern European-born player said of the NHL lockout, “Screw it we’ll all just stay in the KHL anyway and make a bunch of money tax free and no one will call us lazy Russians even though we’re from Belarus or whatever and also sure run a much higher risk of injury and poor treatment but at least we won’t have to deal with Gary Bettman any more right?” Or something to that effect, anyway.
This time it was Sergei Kostitsyn who uttered these things, echoing the semi-vague threats of Ilya Bryzgalov and Alex Ovechkin before him, and perhaps even speaking for other, as-yet-unrevealed European-born NHLers currently playing in the KHL. And while his assertion that Columbus is relatively gloomier than Siberia may well be true — I’ve been to the former, but not the latter, but did find it to be more than a little drab — the actual threat he’s now espousing as well rings hollow for two reasons. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday, ESPN aired a KHL game online. In much the same spirit as BHS staffer Cam Charron’s popular Don Cherry Confused Me feature, I will attempt to break down what the hell Steve Levy and Barry Melrose were talking about during “the Worldwide Leader’s” coverage of an actual professional hockey game.
You had to know going into this that it would be a bit of a gong show. As far as I know — and I can’t be bothered to look it up for reasons that should be obvious — this was the first professional hockey game played on an ESPN television network since The Worldwide Leader in Sports and NHL parted ways after the last lockout. And indeed, the broadcast team of Steve Levy and Barry Melrose, calling the game from what was assuredly a basement closet in Bristol, made a meal of the whole thing from the opening minutes to after the final horn sounded.
First, I guess it’s important to talk about just how bad KHL hockey wasn’t. I’d seen bits and pieces of KHL games before but never sat down and actually watched the an entire game. So in this regard, I was relatively new to the league. Despite all my preconceptions that it would be fall-down terrible hockey played by bad players washed out of North American systems, this was not the case. The hockey was boring, no doubt, and it had nothing to do with the 1-0 scoreline. It was also not officiated particularly well, which we’ll get to in a minute. Let’s just say that while I didn’t find KHL hockey to be completely abhorrent, I also saw no reason to ever watch it again except for the fact that there are a few handfuls of NHL players in the mix. Read the rest of this entry »
It finally happened! Nail Yakupov has got off the proverbial schneid — proverbial because he wasn’t on one in the first place — and netted his first ever KHL goal. The style points are definitely lacking, but they all count the same.
Sergei Bobrovsky allowed the goal so insert your totally obvious and wholly unoriginal “Columbus Blue Jackets players aren’t even good in the KHL” line here.
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