Mike Keenan Nearly Assaults KHL Referees (Video)

Photo: KHL Photo Agency

Mike Keenan is not an easy guy to deal with; everybody knows that.

During his 20-year-long NHL career, Iron Mike got into more than a few personal conflicts. Yet the Washington Capitals reportedly interviewed Keenan for the head coaching gig two years ago, and his name has been floated again this year.

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If only all Gagarin Cup Finals were this good.

In game three,  the underdog Lev Prague, the first non-Russian team to make it this deep,  led 2-1 against powerhouse Metallurg Magnitogorsk, coached by Mike Keenan, late in the third period in front of home crowd of 16,435 spectators, the all-time KHL attendance record. That crowd got quite a show.

With the faceoff near the Lev blue line, Magnitka pulled the goalie for an extra attacker. They won the draw and set up in the offensive zone. A shot by KHL star Sergei Mozyakin was blocked, but the puck hopped right to the stick of an ex-Grand Rapids Griffin Francis Pare who put it past Lev’s Petri Vehanen. Tie game.

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Photo: @Kuzya92

Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s Traktor Chelyabinsk was eliminated from playoff contention a few hours before their game against Ak Bars on Tuesday. It was still a big game for Kuznetsov, who has been treating it as if it would be his last in Chelyabinsk.

This post contains everything we know so far. We’ll be updating throughout the day.

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Early on Tuesday morning, Admiral, the eighth best team in the KHL’s Eastern Conference, defeated Amur 4-1. Admiral has now qualified for the KHL Playoffs. This also means that Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s Traktor Chelyabinsk, who was the Eastern Conference Champions last season, will miss the playoffs entirely for the first time since 2010-11.

Despite high hopes for this season, Traktor couldn’t quite get it together. Kuznetsov, the hometown star and offensive leader, suffered a shoulder injury that required shoulder surgery on September 6th, just a few games into the season. A few months later, Kuznetsov suffered a freak knee injury that also required surgery.

Traktor will now participate in the Nadezhda Cup, the KHL’s “loser” tournament for teams that don’t make the postseason.

It remains to be seen what Kuznetsov will do next.

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Photo: HCTraktor.ru

Now that Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has made it clear he’s coming to DC, the only question left is when. If his KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, makes the playoffs, his journey to North America will be delayed.

On Friday morning, the picture became more clear as Traktor Chelyabinsk defeated Vityaz Chekhov, 3-2, two days after falling to defending champion Dynamo 5-3. Kuznetsov continued some great play, recording a “secondary” assist on (former Capital) Jan Bulis‘ first period goal. He also recorded two shots on goal and lost all three of his face-offs in 20:55 of ice time — most among any Traktor forward.

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Photo credit: KHL

Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov was traveling to see doctors this morning to get his leg injury evaluated, but he did receive some good news while on the way. Kuznetsov, along with three others (including former Capital Jakub Klepis), were named to the KHL All-Star game.

This is the fourth consecutive season Kuznetsov has been named an All Star. The game will be held in Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia) on January 11, 2014.

The KHL first announced the news this morning on their Facebook page. Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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Mark French Wins First Game As KHL Coach

Former Hershey Bears coach Mark French won his first KHL game. Medvescak Zagreb blew out star-studded CSKA Moscow (managed by former Capital Sergey Fedorov) in a score of 7-1.

It was also the Croatian club’s first game in the KHL. Before this season, Medvescak played in the Austrian EBEL league.

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Kuzya is definitely taking this seriously. (Photo credit: HCTraktor.org)

Traktor Chelyabinsk’s KHL training camp started a few days ago. Sadly, Russian players have waved goodbye to their summers full of vodka-flavored borscht and two-a-day video game sessions. Traktor players are now working out together and doing off-ice team-led drills in downtown Chelyabinsk.

Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov was there for his final KHL training camp on Tuesday, and thanks to a robust 44-picture photo gallery from HCTraktor.org, we can document the grueling session on the stationary bike, the jumping of rope until he couldn’t jump no mo’, the lifting of impossible weights, and the kicking of legs up and down furiously at some hurdle thing.

Tuesday’s session was led by some old guy with a mullet. Embrace the summer content.

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Nicky, during his stint with Dynamo. (Photo credit: Fedor Uspensky / Sport-Express)

Nicklas Backstrom’s name will appear on the Gagarin Cup after all, KHL champions Dynamo Moscow announced Tuesday. Originally, the team decided not to engrave names of the players who played fewer than 26 games or weren’t with the team at the end of the regular season. Backstrom scored 25 points in 19 KHL games before flying back to Washington when the lockout ended.

Just like any other Russian matter, the organization has changed its mind after one Dynamo fan site posted an open letter to the club looking for more clarity. “It is unclear to us why the names of some players are absent on the prestigious trophy,” authors Artem Dorozhkin (Dynamo’s former PR guy) and Maxim Shcherbinin wrote. “We’re asking you to tell us the reason why certain players were left off the list the club submitted to the KHL. It will help avoid useless rumors among Dynamo Moscow fans.”

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Ovi wears his boot on stage. This man is clearly devoted to getting healthy. (Photos via the KHL’s Facebook page)

Alex Ovechkin played 31 games for his hometown KHL team, Dynamo Moscow, before the NHL lockout ended in January. During that time, Ovechkin scored 19 goals and had 40 points. Even without Ovi and Nicklas Backstrom, Dynamo went on to beat Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Traktor Chelyabinsk in the finals and repeat as champions. And because of his teammates’ hard work, his role as an advisor, and early season stint with the team, Ovechkin got some pretty sweet hardware for his trouble.

Ovechkin will receive the team’s championship ring, his name has been written on the Gagarin Cup, and now, Ovi has joined his Dynamo teammates on a parade through Moscow and received a gold medal. It’s not a World Championships gold medal, but hey, this will do.

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