In Defense of Ilya Kovalchuk

It seems that in the past few days there has been quite an uproar in the Devils fan community regarding their star winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Like many of his compatriots, Kovalchuk returned to the country where he learned to skate to continue playing the game he loves when the NHL hit it’s fourth work stoppage since 1992. Joining one of the Kontinental Hockey League’s top clubs, SKA St.Petersburg, he quickly became the team’s star and even took over as captain while scoring 42 points in 36 games.
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D(i)ynamo Derby Live Tomorrow on YouTube


(courtesy of the KHL)

The KHL will be conducting its third stream of a live broadcast this season on YouTube. The match will feature Dynamo Moscow visiting Dinamo Riga. Streaming will begin at 20.30 Moscow time (12:30 PM EST in the US) on the KHL’s youtube channel. Clicking on the “LIVE” button at the top will bring you to their live streaming portion. The previous two games that were streamed are archived here as well. They include a September 12th Salavat Yulaev Ufa – Atlant Moscow Oblast match and a September 15th Dinamo Riga – Atlant match.
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Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s History Will Not Stop

(Photo courtesy of hclokomotiv.ru; translates to “Our team, forever”)

The headline you see above was a direct quote issued by the president of the KHL, Alexander Medvedev, as he and other officials, both hockey and government, arrived to the city of Yaroslavl amid the tragedy that has sent waves throughout the sporting world and front pages across the globe. From the hundreds of Lokomotiv fans gathering for candlelight vigils to the arrival of President Dmitry Medvedev, the city has been in thoughts of many and in the hearts of millions.

From a Russian hockey standpoint, many of the players both here in America and back in the KHL have connection to the club whether as opponents on a yearly basis or growing up with some of those who perished. From the biggest names in the sport such as Alexander Ovechkin who played with Alexander Galimov, the lone survivor of the Lokomotiv roster, in 2005 at the World Juniors, to alumni and fans in 10 countries which have lost their hockey heroes and icons.
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Good bye and good riddance…

The last line has been spoken, the final curtain cast, and Broadway is now a much better place seeing that Alexander Frolov won’t be parading around the Big Apple any longer.  What started out as a very solid career took a turn for the worst when Frolov signed a 1 year contract to play for the New York Rangers this season.  Hopes turned from high to dire in a matter of months and Frolov gave New Yorkers what they feared most…a lackluster effort, abysmal performances, and a waste of his 3-million dollar contract (as if Glen Sather couldn’t get blamed anymore for bad contracts…)
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Islanders Set to Keep Nabby for Next Season

According to a New York’s Newsday, the New York Islanders are planning to retain the rights to goaltender Evgeni Nabokov for the 2011-2012 season. Nabokov was picked off waivers by the team after signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings but since the collective bargaining agreement calls for players signing a NHL-level contract to enter waivers Nabokov ended up in Long Island. However the newest Islander never donned an Islanders jersey opting to hold out in hopes he would be freed from his contract this coming off-season.
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Dueling Russians

This year’s NHL draft brings about a lot of talent, as it does year after year.  However, the crop of Russian players is not as copious as years past (most noticeably the 2010 NHL Entry Draft).  You will not find the likes of a Burmistrov, Tarasenko, Kuznetsov, Kabanov, Galiev, or Kitsyn.  But a new breed of Russian hockey player is quickly coming into the fold.  The two notables in this year’s draft are, the OHL’s, Vladislav Namestnikov and Alexander Khokhlachev.  Most likely first or second round draft picks, these two Russians have taken the next step in achieving their dreams of playing in the NHL by coming across the ocean from Russia to play in the top junior league in the world.

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Evgeni Nabokov Leaves KHL’s SKA St.Petersburg, Where Will He Land?


(courtesy of ALEXANDER DEMIANCHUK/REUTERS)

It appears Evgeni Nabokov’s stint back in the motherland is over as the four-year $24 million contract has been terminated by SKA St.Petersburg earlier today. Nabokov signed the contract with the intent of finishing up his career back in his adopted home country after being cut loose by the San Jose Sharks due to cap limitations. The 35-year-old netminder was the backbone to the only team he knew in the NHL and holds every major record for goalies in team history.
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A Russian Bargain…Or Lack Thereof

Alexander Frolov was drafted 20th overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings.  With hopes riding high on the young Russian, he broke into the NHL in the 2002-03 season scoring 31 points in 79 games.  His point totals continued to increase over the next few years notching 20+ goals in six straight seasons.  

After signing a 5 year deal beginning the 2005-06 season and despite putting up very good numbers, the Los Angeles Kings soon found out that Frolov did not fit the mold or the direction the Kings were going in.  At the same time, Frolov new that he was not a good fit for LA after his contract expired.
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Zherdev arrives in the Nik of time

It is ironic that Nikolai Zherdev left for the KHL last season after having some top-notch years under his belt in the NHL (Three 50+ point seasons to be exact).  It is ironic Nikolai Zherdev after only one year of KHL play, he decided he wanted to come back to the league that shunned him away.  It is ironic that Nikolai Zherdev has come back to North America with a new attitude that couldn’t even be altered by the likes of Sergei Fedorov in his time with the Jackets.  It is even more ironic that the team willing to take the gamble to acquire him didn’t have a great deal of cap room and has been known not to have an affinity for Eastern Europeans throughout their team’s history.

Questions surrounding Nikolai Zherdev’s work ethic and ability to adhere to the teams style of play have always been brought up ever since he was drafted 4th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2004.  Zherdev was never the guy to play by anyone’s rules.  The world was his oyster and it revolved around him 24/7/365.  His production, or, in 2006-07, the lack thereof, ranked higher on his pedestal than the benefit and progression of his team as a whole.  So why, on Earth, would a player with his talent, skillset, vision, as well as his lack of drive, want to come back to a league that had put red flags around his name since he boarded his plane for a one-way ticket back to the KHL?
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Where will Kovy Land? The FRWG Edition

ilya-kovalchuk-kings-stpetes

As we slowly approach week two of Kovy watch 2010 the most sought after free agent of this summer not named Lebron James has yet to pick a team. As much as VERSUS or the NHL network would probably love to air his decision live, I can’t see that happening. It would mean hockey being recognized as a legit sport in this country by those who can only pay attention once a week to their beloved team but I digress.
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