Tag Archives: KHL

Anybody But Radulov

Alexander Radulov scored two goals in Russia’s 4-0 win over Norway today, and it’s just too bad it’s this guy who emerges as the hero.

Radulov’s the guy who once upon a time played for the Nashville Predators but in the middle of his contract decided that he could get a sweeter deal in the KHL and went ahead and signed a three-year contract with Salavat Yulayev UFA without telling the Preds.

The Preds suspended him, but sadly, took him back a few years later for some reason.

Then, in an important playoff game against the Coyotes, Radulov and teammate Andrei Kostitysn were spotted in a Phoenix bar at 5 A.M. the morning of the big game,

He was suspended once again, his contract with the Preds wasn’t extended, and he headed back to Russia where Moscow Red Army gave him a 4-year deal at 9.2 million per.

None of it seems right.

 

Lesser Moments For Kovalev

Good old Alex Kovalev, the man who could dazzle us for one game and stink for the next five, is back in Montreal tonight wearing a Florida Panthers uniform. Kovalev, who was with Atlant Moscow Oblast of the KHL for the 2011-12 season, returned to North America and just after the lockout ended, signed with the Panthers.

I remember that night against Boston when he had his hand slashed by a Bruin, gave up on the play because it hurt a little, ran into Sheldon Souray as he was feeling so badly, and when all this was going on, a Bruin player took the puck, waltzed in, and scored the winner in overtime. I was embarrassed by Kovy’s antics that night.

In fact, for as long as he was a Montreal Canadien, which became five years ending in 2008-09, often he could embarrass with his fakery. He could also play like he didn’t care, and then sometimes, out of the blue, he’d be sensational, the best guy on the ice, a magician with the puck, and we’d cheer like crazy. But we never knew which Kovalev would show up, and for me personally, it was good when he finally hung up his Habs sweater.

Here’s the hand slash episode, and other moments in Kovalev’s career when he was less-than-stellar.

Money Sure Can Talk

I must be pretty dense. All along I thought Ilya Kovalchuk was flirting with staying with his St. Petersburg SKA team because he loved his country so much and was finally eating his favourite foods again.

It barely registered on me that SKA, and probably the KHL head comrades, were offering him millions to stay. How come I’ve been so clueless? Kovalchuk has 13 years left on his 15-year, $100 million Devils salary, so if there’s one thing we must realize about the KHL, is that there’s some serious rubles floating around if they can get the guy to even think about it.

Slightly different from 1972, when Soviet players who didn’t dress for the four Summit Series games in Moscow had to buy their own tickets to get into the rink. Or those same National team players who were paid $200 to $400 a month for the honour of playing for their country.

Apparently Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk will be returning to North America following Sunday’s KHL All-Star game. A contract is a contract, whether North American food sucks for the guy or not. Kovalchuk’s a great player, a sniper with a deadly shot, and New Jersey fans must be happy this staying home talk is coming to an end.

Hockey? I’m Not Ready Yet

I woke this morning to the news – that NHL brains have made a sharp u-turn and hockey will begin again, maybe on January 15, maybe on January 19. (Details can be found on 8,537 news and sports sites).

I’m not ready for this. I’m not finished talking about Gary Bettman and rich hockey players yet. It’s too soon. It’s only January and it’s cold. Hockey should be played where it’s hot, like in Phoenix and South Florida. And how am I supposed to blog about actual hockey games forty-eight or fifty times in the next while when I’m out of shape? Players need training camp? So do I.

I just hope Bruins fans and others don’t keep bringing up the shortened season after Montreal wins it all. It’s going to be a nice, handy excuse for them – that they were just getting going and if it was any longer, they would’ve made the Habs look like the German junior team. This is what we’re up against. It’s gonna suck but we have to be ready for it.

I really was in a no-NHL-state of mind. I’d learned to occupy myself other ways on nights when hockey wasn’t being played. Like watching Sportsnet and TSN go on and on and on about hockey not being played. Good, quality entertainment.

I’m worried for some. Scott Gomez was on a roll with his Alaska Aces, notching six goals and seven assists in just eleven games. Now what? Now he has to stop scoring again. You have to feel for the guy. And Brad Marchand is only halfway through his grade seven course and will have to either stop completely or do homework on planes.

Maybe I can help Marchand, with this advice that comes via Eddie Shack. When Shack was playing, one of his teammates in the dressing room asked him how far he got in school, and Eddie said grade eight. When the other player asked how he managed to get so far, Eddie said it was easy, he’d lend the teacher his car.

It’s not just Gomez or Marchand. They all have to go back to work now. I know this feeling. A nice two or three week holiday and then I’m back in the thick of things and it’s hard. The players have been laying around and golfing and traveling to New York for six months now. Imagine what they’re going through. Hopefully they were able to keep busy. David Booth probably had a nice time blowing bears’ brains out, and Evander Kane had a nice picture taken of himself in Las Vegas holding a couple of three inch wads of bills and pretending the money was a phone. Now that’s fine humour. That’s how you keep busy.

I feel for the owners. Now they have to act like nice people when they show up at their private boxes, and that means they’ll have to tip the $9 an hour person who brings them their 20-year old scotch. Hollywood people can act like they’re nice and normal because they’re actors. Owners don’t have this luxury. They have every other luxury, just not this one.

What about Russian fans who’ve been flocking to KHL games this year? My stepson Denis in St. Petersburg says hockey in Russia has never been so exciting and invigorating to fans there. Now these players who took jobs have to come back to North America and not take anybody’s job and fans in the old country will be left with the team that once was. It’ll take some getting used to. And it’ll be nice for the captain of St. Petersburg SKA to get his “C” back now that Ilya Kovalchuk won’t be needing it anymore.

Can Montreal do well this year? It’ll be a sprint instead of a marathon, and who knows? It depends on how many games before Andre Markov gets hurt, and whether the power play can score sometimes. Maybe Alex Galchenyuk will be in the lineup! Let’s just embrace what we’ll have – a short race to the finish line. It’ll be over before we know it. Then we can get back to what we’re used to – no hockey.

 

 

 

Toenail Clipping

I find myself thinking more and more about the lockout and how it’s affecting me, and I have to say it’s not affecting me a great deal at all, other than having to dig deep to keep posting here every day.

I’m just sick of the whole mess, one created through greed, distrust and lies, and one that may never get truly resolved, even if they go back to work. It’s way too discouraging. I’m also tired of seeing hockey analysts on TV going on and on about it every day, of press conferences with Donald Fehr with sombre-looking players standing in the background, and hearing that the Winter Classic is cancelled, with the all-star game next. Which is fine because I despise the All-Star game anyway. Seeing smiling players in a big love-in isn’t my idea of the sport.

I’m tired of hearing about players signing with teams overseas – it’s boring and depressing, and every time I hear, it’s like another nail in the season-being-over coffin. And of course I’m tired of Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, and the word “millions.”

I’m just sick of it all, even to the point of putting personal hockey memorabilia away, out of sight, and making my museum-like room, which I’ve shown photos of here, more of a normal room. I hate the term “man-cave” and I’ve decided to do something about it. I’m too old for a man-cave, and I’m allergic to dust.

When PK Subban does the weather on TV, it doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t smile or laugh or have any kind of emotion. All I can think of is, why didn’t he sign a contract. When Andrei Markov gets hurt in the KHL, I’m nonchalant. When owners and players jostle over millions, I yawn. I’m too busy trying to get my ducks in a row so I can retire from the workforce and still be able to pay some bills.

I think about hockey players now and I think very little. With the Canadiens it’s always been about the team as a whole anyway. When I watch them, I see the sweater. I see the crest. I see if they win or not. Who wears the sweater makes very little difference. It’s how they help the team that’s important. That’s why I climb up one side of Scott Gomez and down the other. He hasn’t helped the team and thus, he deserves it. It goes with the territory.

If Josh Gorges or Erik Cole came to Powell River, it doesn’t matter, even though they do a good job for the team. I wouldn’t go out of my way. I don’t want their autographs. Trevor Linden was in town recently, played road hockey just around the corner from me, but I stayed in the house and clipped my toenails or whatever. This sort of thing just isn’t important to me. Yes, if it was Jean Beliveau, I’d seek him out and ask him to tell some stories about another time, about Plante and Harvey and the Rocket and such. Being coached by Toe Blake. With Josh Gorges or Erik Cole, I’d really have nothing to talk about.

I won’t be watching when Toronto plays Pittsburgh or Columbus takes on the Devils, or any other of the hundreds of meaningless games (to me) around the league. I could care less. I have toenails to clip. It’s only about the Habs crest and the team winning. Everything else about the NHL means nothing. The lockout, money, and the previous disputes, have made me tired.

 

Semin Helps Out

Denis Brel in St. Petersburg has written a fine piece about what Alexander Semin is up to in Russia. So I’m just going to put my feet up and let my terrific stepson take it away. Many thanks to Denis in “The City that Peter Built.”

By Denis Brel –

Alexander Semin signed with the Carolina Hurricanes, but of course has yet to skate with them. So he went overseas like others are doing.

Almost every day we hear in the news, and I heard again today, that another NHL star has signed a temporary contract with a KHL team. I think the main thing for most players is to maintain their form, although it’s also good money in the KHL, and many players have decided to return to the club where they played before because it’s a comfortable situation for them: Ovechkin is playing for his native “Dynamo” Moscow, and Evgeni Malkin of Magnitogorsk “Metallurg, for example.

But with Alexander Semin, things are slightly different.

The fact that he has decided to play for the second-division team in Krasnoyarsk, which was his first step in professional sports, for a team called Sokol in the VHL (Major Hockey League), a long way down from the KHL.

Semin also wanted to play for free, but he was told that he must be paid at least something, as it’s in league rules. Therefore, Sasha signed for the lowest possible wage in the VHL (50,000 rubles), which comes to about $ 1,450 per month after taxes. And Semin has decided that all of his money will go to a children’s hockey school, personally buying sports equipment for kids just starting out.

Why did Semin decide to play for free in his hometown when he could make much more?

His response is found in Sport-Express:

“I wanted to be close to my family, to play on a team where I started. To be honest, this has been my dream from the time I left Krasnoyarsk. Alex Ovechkin completely supports me, and he sent a text saying”Well done!” It will be great to play in front of family, friends and fans. This is a chance to give back to my hometown and the sports school, where I was taught to play hockey. Yes, there is a lockout, but these difficult circumstances should be used for something good.

Different clubs approached me to play, but I decided to play at home. I’m familiar with hockey people in Krasnoyarsk. I was here after the World Championship and preparing for the NHL season in the local arena. I thought just jokingly about what it would be like to stay if a lockout happened, and then I thought, why not?

I’ve haven’t been home much in a long time, and family and friends are delighted. And my grandmother hasn’t seen me play in years. It’ll be a great present for her, she just turned 90 years old. She is, incidentally, in good health, and she’s still a big cheerleader (laughs).

All of us NHLers are communicating over here, and maybe for some it’s a weird thing I’m doing. But I’ve explained everything. I just want to be at home.

Wanna See Some KHL?

My Russian stepson Denis Brel went to a KHL game a few days ago in St. Petersburg, and it just happened to be Ilya Kovalchuk’s first game at his new home rink after returning to his homeland due to the lockout. Denis says the rink holds 12,000 people, but 14,000 squeezed in, because to see Kovalchuk was a big thing on this night.

The video is 16 minutes long, and please don’t mind the semi-darkness at the beginning, which lasts about 55 seconds. Denis started filming as the lights weren’t quite turned on, and carries on from there. And once they’re on, we see the cheerleaders lined up and the players introduced, and then it’s on to game action.

I think it’s all very interesting, and the fans seem to be having fun. Home team SKA won 7-2 on this big night, but what surprises me is that Kovalchuk (#17 in blue) has been made captain of SKA, even though his season could last just weeks or a few months. So NHL players aren’t just taking jobs over there, they’re taking captaincies too.

Denis’ website, which he shares with his dad Anatoli, who is one of the leading hockey historians in all of Russia, (and I say that without hesitation), can be seen here. – Brels’sHockey

Leaving The Ice

This 26 minute video is a sad yet fascinating tribute to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, the Kontinental Hockey League team that went down in a plane a year ago. It looks at families in reflection, of players involved, of players from the newly-built Lokomotiv, and of Yaroslavl itself.

Just a really interesting piece, and I hope you enjoy. Thanks a lot to Danno for finding this and sending it over, and as Danno points out, near the end of this documentary, Lokomotiv fans sing Ole Ole, as they do at the Bell Centre.

 

Canadiens Magazine Gives Us Emelin

Every so often, Rich the trucker shows up at the ferry terminal and hands me his Canadiens magazine, which I appreciate greatly. He’s a big Habs fan, this fellow, he lives in Vancouver, and when he comes through, we talk Habs.

When this happens, my work effort drops from 140% down to 125%. But it’s important. It’s the future of the team at stake. (please note, a few years ago I wrote about another trucker named Rick, in Ottawa. Two different truckers. And Rick in Ottawa is a Senators fan).

Rich’s latest edition includes an interview with Alexei Emelin through a translator, and I’ve been waiting for something like this since the big guy joined the team. I’ve been curious to know what his thoughts are about life here and being in the NHL, and among others things, I found out that he wanted come to Canada and play for the Habs from the get-go, but was lied to by his agent.

The article explains that Emelin wanted to come and play for the Habs right away after being drafted 84th overall in 2004, but every time he asked his agent, the guy told him Montreal didn’t have an offer for him. And it wasn’t until Emelin had spoken to a Canadiens’ Russian scout, who told him how much the team wanted him, that he realized his agent had been less-than-truthful with him.

Emelin’s problem was that by the time he had found out, he had just signed a three-year deal in the KHL, and because he’s an honourable guy, he played out his contract. But once that was finished, he, along with his wife and daughter, were on a plane to Canada.

And yes, he has a different agent now.

Emelin also discusses the plate inserted into his face. He was in a scrap with Avangard Omsk forward Alexander Svitov, and when Emelin was down, Svitov sucker punched him in the face, his orbital bone was fractured, and major surgery was needed, which included a titanium plate put in. Now, if he fights it could damage the plate so although he plays a rough, tough game, he tries to keep his checks clean to avoid penalties and another sucker punch. I don’t blame him.

Speaking of Svitov, I saw him play in St. Petersburg when he was a junior, in a tournament against the Swedes. He was big and dominant, and when my Russian friend asked me during the game which player impressed me, I said Svitov. I liked him then but I don’t now. I’m not a fan of players who sucker punch others when they’re down.

But back to Emelin. He admits in the article that coming to Canada hasn’t been easy, the culture and language is difficult to get used to, and he says the game is much faster in the NHL than in the KHL. Learning English has been a trying experience, and he wants to understand the coaches better and enjoy the dressing room camaraderie more, which can only come when he gets a handle on the language. He first relied on Andrei Kostitsyn to translate, but with him gone now, Andrei Markov is back to pick up the slack.

I noticed at the game in Vancouver that the two of them chatted constantly on the ice, and my Russian wife Luci told me that seeing that tugged at her heart strings.

The hard-hitting defenceman feels he’s making progress in English now and says he understands maybe 40% of what’s going on, mostly thanks to watching cartoons with his four-year old daughter Lesia. Kids naturally pick up languages quickly, and he’s trying to keep up with her. They watch Dora the Explorer together, and all in all, as he gets more comfortable in his new surroundings, he admits he’s really happy in Montreal, happier than he thought.

Don’t forget, North America isn’t always the heaven on earth for others that we think it should be. Their home is their home, and I understand that. But things are working out splendidly here for our bruiser.

Canadiens magazine is a nice read with tremendous photography, and I await Rich the trucker’s next issue. And did you know that Mathieu Darche’s favourite song is Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones?