Tag Archives: St. Petersburg SKA

My Russian Poster, Signed By…..


I’ve been to several games in St. Petersburg over the years, before the KHL was born, and when the best Russian hockey was played in the Superleague (at that time called the International Hockey League).

One of the games I was at featured St. Petersburg SKA vs. the powerhouse Moscow Red Army squad, coached by legendary taskmaster Viktor Tikhonov.

This large 2’x3′ poster was on the wall of the Yubyleny Sports Palace, where the game was played, and one of the employees said I could have it after I asked politely.

It reads, among other things:

Season Opener
Friday September 9 St. Petersburg SKA – Kasan Etel
Sunday September 11 SKA – Moscow Red Army

That Sunday afternoon I got the poster signed by not only Tikhonov but also by 1972 Summit Series stars Boris Mikhailov (who was coaching SKA), and Viktor Kuzkin, who captained the ’72 squad and was sitting right behind me in the stands.

It’s also signed by Alexander Kharlamov, son of the iconic Valeri Kharlamov. Alexander was playing for Red Army at the time and wore number 17 like his dad once did.


Below, Victor Tikhonov signing away. That’s me in the striped shirt, with my back to the camera. (Taken by Lucy’s son Denis).


Ilya And Foul Balls

I think I’ve got the facts straight about this Ilya Kovalchuk thing.

With twelve years and 77 million dollars remaining on Kovalchuk’s New Jersey Devils contract, he announced his retirement and said he was going home. Home to play for St. Petersburg SKA, for a reported $15 million dollars over four years. He’s not from St. Petersburg, he’s from north of Moscow, but he likes it in the place that Peter the Great had workers build on stilts in a marshy swamp.

Needless to say, plenty of workers died, or got bitten by way too mosquitoes if they didn’t.

People are mad at him on Twitter. Jeremy Roenick says he’s livid that the Russian would bail out on his team like that. Others say that too. As far as Lou Lamoriello goes , it’s sympathy for the Devil.

Sometimes teams go through hard times when they get ripped apart. People are sad. It becomes less yachting time and more rebuilding time. It’s heartbreaking for other billionaires to witness.

I agree what Kovalchuk did might might have been a little underhanded, but the fact remains, he wanted to move back to his homeland. He likes it there. Russia’s a place where, if you’re loaded, it can be excellent to be in. And of course any Russian player prefers Russian cooking to North American fare. It goes without saying.

I myself prefer Canadian food. Pizza, spaghetti, curried chicken, tacos.

If Kovalchuk doesn’t have any scruples, who are we to judge? It’s not like owners and GMs have never screwed players. And if I played in the KHL and yearned to return home to Canada, I might be unscrupulous and bail out too.

I shouldn’t even talk about this kind of thing. I don’t understand any of it. Turning your back on $77 million is quite a thing. And how do you think New Jerseyans feel? Some Russian wouldn’t live there even for 77 million bucks.

In other news –

A guy in the stands caught four balls at a Cleveland Indians game.

I came close getting one once. And my first wife and our friends Reg Fox and Pat can testify. We were at a game at Shea Stadium, sitting high behind home plate. I got up and went to get a hot dog or something, and while I was gone, a foul ball landed on my seat.





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.




Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah

St. Petersburg SKA cheerleader cheers her team on. Maybe she’s singing –

“Rah rah sis boom bah,
Let’s go comrades, let’s go SKA
We need a goal, so send out Kovalchuk,
And about the NHL – who gives a flying $#%^&”

Photo taken by Denis Brel. And if you can read Russian, you can see his breakdown of how certain players like Malkin and Ovechkin and others are doing in the KHL right now – Brels Hockey

Make My Day And Stay

Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Kostitsyn, Pavel Datsyuk and a few other Russians are now saying they might just stay in Russia. Are you feeling bad about this?

Nobody forced these guys to come to North America, and when they did come, the vaults were opened and they dove in head first, drooling and panting. Now they’re saying that if some kind of pay cut happens from this ridiculous lockout, they just might stay home.

Please stay home. We really don’t want you. You only play for the money anyway. The Stanley Cup isn’t at the top of your list, money is. After that it’s the Olympics and World Championships. Then some borscht and black bread. The Stanley Cup comes in fifth, after money, Olympics, the Worlds, and borscht and black bread. Ungrateful swine, the bunch of you. North American hockey will survive without you, thank you very much.

Is this the end result of the wonderful ’72 Summit Series, Canada Cups, and the New Year’s Eve Habs-Red Army clash in 1975, all of which caused closed doors to slowly open, and years later you marched in to a handshake and wheelbarrows packed full of Amerikanski dollars? What a sad legacy to such historic hockey meetings. Maybe the Summit Series and Canada Cups should never have happened and we wouldn’t have ever had to hear the sorry names of Kostitsyn and Kovalchuk and the others.

Even my wife, who is from Russia, says they’re only here for the money, that they’re not like Canadians, that they don’t have hockey in their blood. In fact, she’s not even surprised when I tell her these guys are threatening to stay home. “Let ’em” she says. “They’re a different bunch.” And this from a Russian lady who loves her homeland but has these dudes all figured out.

You took jobs from players here and now you’re taking jobs from players there. And Sergei Kostitsyn, it was good riddance when you left Montreal, and now I hope I can say it again if your promise to leave this continent permanently comes to pass. Kovalchuk? Your 15-year, 100 million dollar deal with New Jersey might not cut the mustard if you have to give up some? And did you really have to take the captaincy for SKA in St. Petersburg? Wasn’t the old captain there doing his job? Ovechkin? You’re overrated, teams have figured you out, and now you sulk like a Russian baby. And your acting in commercials is much better suited for Russian TV, believe me. Frankly, I find you more than slightly goofy.

Please stay in the old country. All of you. Make Russian fans happy. And while you’re making them happy, you’ll be making me and many others happy too.

Once Again, A Night In The KHL

For whatever reason, I just don’t feel ready yet to move on from what just happened in Russia, and I think that now isn’t the time to post some slightly frivolous things I have ready to go. And so I’ve gone into my archives and dug up some photos my stepson Denis Brel in St. Petersburg, Russia sent me last year from when he was at a Kontinental Hockey League game involving hometown SKA (in blue) and their visitors for the evening, Vityaz Chekhov.

I think I can speak for most when I say we as North American hockey fans, and indeed hockey fans everywhere, are deeply saddened by the tragic events that have occurred, and I can only imagine what it must be like for someone like Denis, who lives there, who is a big KHL fan, and who follows the league closely.

So in honour of the fans in Russia, and for a glimpse into the KHL, here once again is a good old hockey game in St. Petersburg. (P.S. It ended in a shootout win for SKA).

Part Two Of A Glimpse Into The KHL

St. Petersburg SKA, sitting high in the standings, boasts several players who had careers in the NHL. Alexei Yashin, Maxim Afinogenov, Sergei Zubov, Evgeny Artyukhin, Sergei Brylin, and Evgeny Nabokov, all seasoned ex-NHLers, play here, although no Canadians are on the squad.

I think for most North Americans, living and playing in Russia can be a trying experience, but Vityaz Chekhov has five Canadians on their roster – Darcy Verot, Josh Gratton, Kevin Lalande, Chris Simon, and Brandon Sugden. (An interesting story about Brandon Sugden can be found here –  Brandon Sugden)

Vityaz Chekhov are also considered the Broad St. Bullies of the KHL, a tough, scrapping bunch, although on the night Denis went, they behaved themselves and won.

The Kontinental Hockey League clubs play for the Gagarin Cup, named after a true Russian hero Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut who became the first human in outer space and who is, according to my wife, possibly Russia’s most beloved hero of all time. Lord Stanley was Canada’s Governor General and donated the Stanley Cup, but Yuri Gagarin was a pioneer cosmonaut during the Cold War. For Russians, there’s no comparison.

A Glimpse Into The KHL

My old friend Denis Brel, in St. Petersburg, Russia, was at a Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) game recently between the hometown, first-place SKA (in blue) and visiting basement-dwellars Vityaz Chekhov, a game in which Chekhov upset the big shots 5-4 in a shootout. 

Denis has sent along some nice photos.

The player dropping the puck (name unknown) in the middle picture is from the gold medal-winning Russian junior squad, now back with his SKA team.

In the third photo, one of St. Petersburg’s biggest stars, Alexei Yashin, whom we all know from his time in Ottawa and Long Island, is one of the featured players on the scoreboard. It also seems, from the fourth picture, that Russian fans don’t like sitting behind the net.

Ticket prices at SKA games range from 100 rubles to 500, about three to fifteen dollars. Denis reports that 100 rubles is the price of three beer, four metro tickets, one toothbrush, or the cost of one month of slow internet.

Denis also says the SKA cheerleaders are mini-celebrities around the city and many fans know their names.

This is part one, with parts two and three coming shortly.

Coming Tomorrow To A Computer Near You

My son-in law in Russia, who is also an old friend, was just at a KHL game in St. Petersburg and took a veritable cornucopia of nice photos while he was there.

Beginning sometime tomorrow, I’ll be showing glimpses of the game through his photos in a three-part series.

It’ll give you some kind of insight on what it looks like at a Russian game, and I’m really hoping you’ll enjoy it and find it quite facinating.

Below….his ticket to the game, which he paid 500 rubles to attend (about 17 dollars).

500 rubles will buy a bottle of tequila, two movie dvd’s, one small can of red caviar, or pay your water and hydro bill in Russia for a month. You can also buy 100 ruble tickets and I’ll tell you in part one what you can buy for this amount.

Please have a look tomorrow for part one.