Ovechkin, Komarov, and some body parts of Backstrom during their stint with Dynamo. (Photo credit: HC Dynamo)
On Wednesday, Dynamo Moscow beat Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s Traktor Chelyabisnk to win the Gagarin Cup for the second straight year. After the win, some Russian media outlets reported that Alex Ovechkin‘s name will be engraved on the Cup as he played in more than half of the regular season games with Dynamo. Ovi also said he’s going to get a championship ring.
Today those same outlets, Sovetsky Sport particularly, pulled a CNN and denied their own report (and unpublished the original stories), claiming that Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Leo Komarov doesn’t fit the definition of “loaned” players. A loaned player in the KHL is a player who was sent down to a minor professional league like the VHL. Since their contracts were voided when the three went back to the NHL, the number of games played is irrelevant. Technically, Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Komarov are no longer part of Dynamo.
Later, Sovetsky Sport contacted Dmitry Kurbatov, KHL’s director of sports events organization, to clear up the situation. Read this and let us know if this actually clears up anything.
There’s a requirement for the number of games played in sports regulations for a player to have his name engraved on the Gagarin Cup. But there’s another paragraph. A few people, at the club’s discretion, may get included in the champions list as well. Simply said, Dynamo has enough legal base to write Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Leo Komarov in that list.
So, you can write in whomever you want, including the players?
You can even write in both of us.
If Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Komarov will get written in, will they be officially considered Russian national champions? [Ed. Note – The KHL champion is also considered the Russian national champion as the KHL has rights to conduct national championships by the Russian Hockey Federation. For example, prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has a silver medal for making the finals this year and bronze for playing in the conference finals last year].
They will be Gagarin Cup winners. I’m not ready to say anything about the Russian national championship as that is held under the unified plan of sports events approved by sports minister [Vitaly] Mutko. Same as whether they will be given sports titles for a win. […] This is not our question at all.
So they may not receive a medal?
Usually, Russian Hockey Federation has a pack of medals – 40-45. Then they try not to interfere with the club’s internal policy.
Sports.ru’s blogger Dmitry Feschenko, however, questions the legal side of the KHL’s actions. He points out that the paragraph Kurbatov cited actually reads: “[Eligible for getting their names engraved on the cup are] five executives and six other representatives of the club”.
Ovechkin is OK here – he has a position as the club president’s advisor, and as that his name can make the Cup and could last year, too, but not as the player Alex Ovechkin. The more interesting is in what way do Toronto Maple Leaf Leo Komarov and Washington Capital Nicklas Backstrom represent Dynamo? What are their positions? Or can we really engrave some stranger’s name on the Cup? If so, it’s sad and that way the Gagarin Cup will never become an important trophy.
Just like with the Stanley Cup, KHL players also get to spend a day with the Gagarin Cup. Ovechkin, probably will, as he spends his time in Moscow during the summer. But what about Backstrom?
There are still a lot of questions and few answers.