Photo credit: Kyle Mace/Sweetest Hockey On Earth

Word broke on Thursday that the KHL’s Avangard Omsk and former Hershey Bear Ryan Potulny have agreed to terminate their contract together. The soon-to-be-29-year-old Potulny signed a two-year deal with Avangard late in May, but things changed quickly after he got hurt in a recent preseason game against Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

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Slava Kozlov (Dynamo) and Nikita Pivtsakin (Avangard) go at each other during regular season Avangard – Dynamo game (Photo credit: OldWest.su)

The History

These two teams have met 66 times. Dynamo has won 35 of those match-ups, Avangard 23, with eight tie games. The teams have squared off in the playoffs five times– with Dynamo winning in 1995, 2005 and 2008, and Avangard winning in 2003 and 2004. But they have never played each other in the finals. Until now.

The most famous series between the two was the 2004-05 semifinals. After getting eliminated by the Omsk Hawks two straight times, Dynamo (featuring Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin and Andrei Markov) tried to stop Avangard (with Jaromir Jagr, Oleg Tverdovsky and one of the greatest lines in modern Russian hockey history: Maxim Sushinsky, Dmitry Zatonsky and Alexander Prokopiev).

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Evgeny Kuznetsov sprints down the wing during Game 1.

In the first two games of the KHL’s Eastern Conference Finals, Traktor managed to split their home games with Avangard. Evgeny Kuznetsov, who just came off a dominant, five-goal performance in the Semifinals, continued his torrid pace, netting two goals and an assist in Games 1 and 2. Let’s review.

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Kuznetsov is stopped on a breakaway at 1:55. His two shootout goals can be seen at 3:45.

Taking a tenuous 2-0 lead into the third period, Traktor Cheylabinsk unraveled in the final minutes against host Avangard Omsk on Sunday. First, 4:31 into the final frame, the KHL’s leading goal-scorer, Roman Cervenka, scored on a cross-crease pass to bring Avangard within one. Then ten minutes later, Omsk’s Yegor Averin scored on a broken play in front of Traktor’s net to force overtime.

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Avangard vs. Vityaz: the Bloodiest Rivalry in Hockey Escalates

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Darcy the Fighter (photo via KP.ru)

UPDATE 12/11, 3PM: Suspensions have been doled out. Belokon has been suspended for 13 games, Verot for 12, Gratton for 15, and Larin for 13. Avangard will pay 100k RUR (3.3k USD) to the KHL, and Vityaz will pay 400k RUR (13k USD). Justice is served. Go about your day, citizen.

Editor’s note- Fedor is a total fanboy for Avangard. This is not dispassionate reporting.

We’ve written before about the Avangard-Vityaz rivalry and how it all started back in ’09. After almost two years and two fight-ful games, 12/10/10 begins a new era in the rivalry. For the newbies, here’s a little background:

  • Vityaz Chekhov (stars: ex-Cap Chris Simon, ex-Bear Brandon Sugden, ex-Cap Darcy Verot, Josh Gratton) is the toughest team in the KHL, full of provokers and shameless punks. They were rumored to have signed the legendary Chris Chelios a few weeks ago. They are dead last in the West– 8 points behind the next spot, 17 points out of the playoffs. Their coach is the best Russian fighter in the NHL history, Andrei Nazarov.
  • Avangard Omsk Region (stars: ex-Cap Jaromir Jagr, Martin Skoula, Marek Svatos, Kari Ramo) is one of the most successful and richest teams in the league.  They are currently fifth in the East.

How is this fight unlike its predecessors? For the first time, one team didn’t fight at all, the Hawks (Avangard’s nickname) were simply pummeled by the Vityazes (Vityaz is a Russian knight). Vityaz started their thugs (Verot, Simon, Sugden, Gratton) and sent them after Avangard immediately following the opening face off.

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KHL-Vityaz-Chekhov-VS-Avangard-Omsk-691-Penalty-Minutes-January-2010

Russian fans are very, very passionate about hockey. If you need proof, look no further than the buildup for the upcoming KHL game between heated-rivals Avangard Omsk and Vityaz Chekhov. Avangard’s best player is former DC malcontent Jaromir Jagr, while Vityaz – known more for its boxing than hockey skill – has former Caps Brandon Sugden, Chris Simon, and Darcy Verot filling out their ranks.

The team’s beefs with each other have been simmering for a while now, stemming from one sad event. During the 2008-09 KHL season, Avangard’s Alexei Cherepanov passed out on the bench during a game against Vityaz in Chekhov. He later died. The cause of his death filled headlines in Russia for years, with both teams getting their fair share of the blame. Wikipedia’s wordy explanation is the most fair:

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KHL Team’s Fans Name Their Heroes From The Past Season

Everyone who follows the KHL knows that Vityaz Chekhov is the roughest team in the KHL. Former Hershey Bear Reid Simpson and Toronto Maple Leaf Nathan Perrott have played there. Former Washington Capitals Darcy Verot, Chris Simon and Brandon Sugden play there now. And for that Caps fan with an especially vivid memory, you may recall rumors during the past offeseason about Donald Brashear potentially signing with the club.

Well this season Vityaz participated in a superbrawl against Jaromir Jagr’s Avangard Omsk, where 840 PIM’s were awarded in this game. No, that’s not a typo. I’ll repeat, 840 PIM’s were awarded in that game. Somehow this talented group of testosterone-charged meatheads didn’t make the playoffs, so now it’s time to draw a proper conclusion. And their own Russian fans were kind enough to do it (with translated english captions). They created “cowards awards” for the worst teams and players in their opinion. Please watch the above video and find out who wins some tampons and the inglorious yellow underpants.