Photo: Dave Sandford
In an interview with SovSport on Saturday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was asked straight up if he wanted to return to Russia next year. Ya know, to debunk the rumor once and for all so we could all move on. Instead, Ovechkin left the door open for a possible return and even sounded like he has put a lot of thought into the idea.
Sochi’s Olympic boss Dmitry Chernyshenko will face the hardest challenge in the KHL’s history in his first year as president. (Photo: Sergey Kuznetsov / RIA Novosti)
Russia’s financial crisis is in full throttle as the ruble fell below 65 to one dollar (as opposed to 33 one year ago), while Russia’s main export, oil, has fallen below 60 dollars per barrel for the first time since May 2009.
The changes in the economy will affect Russian hockey.
Like the changing of the seasons and the turning of the tide, you can depend on rumors of Alex Ovechkin returning to the KHL to pop up on a regular basis. You can set your watch to it, if you want your watch to be really unreliable.
On Thursday afternoon, we got our latest dose of Ovi-back-home panic, as quoted by Slava Malamud.
Dynamo Moscow boss Arkady Rotenberg has told Sportbox.ru "there is desire on (Ovechkin's) part" to return to the KHL. #Caps
— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) November 13, 2014
The full text of the interview isn’t quite so inflammatory.
A few years ago, Polish-born forward Wojtek Wolski came to the Washington Capitals as a reclamation project. Instead of becoming a permanent member in the team’s top six, he became a permanent denizen of Adam Oates’s doghouse and left for the KHL. Since then, he has had some success with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.
And by success I mean setting insane records. Today Wolski set the KHL record for the fastest hat trick ever. He did it pretty fast.
On Saturday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin participated in Ilya Kovalchuk’s charity hockey game, “From Pure Heart.” Also at the game was KHL president Alexander Medvedev.
A member of Sport-Express’s sports department caught up with Medvedev, asking a bunch of questions about the charity game and the KHL. At the end of their conversation, the interviewer asked a rote question about when Ovechkin and other Russian NHL stars might leave North America and come back home.
Medvedev’s answer was portentous.
Photo: Elsa/Getty Images
St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka has signed a three-year contract with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk. It’s been reported by iSport.cz and translated to Russian by Sports.ru that Sobotka has a clause in his contract that would allow him to return to the NHL during any offseason. Reports of his salary have varied: the initial report by iSport had Sobotka’s salary at $4 million per year. Andy Strickland of CBS Sports Radio St. Louis tweeted that according to his sources Sobotka will be making $4.3 million average throughout the life of the deal. Sobotka’s agent Darryl Wolski tweeted that his client will be making just $2.8 million per year.
There’s even more confusion as to whether he could return to St. Louis or any other NHL team.
Former Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears forward Oskar Osala has won the Gagarin Cup. His Metallurg Magnitogorsk won game seven 7-4 over Lev Praha.
In the NHL, Osala played in all of three games (two with Washington, one with Carolina). For the most of his North American career, Osala played in the AHL with the Hershey Bears (where he won the Calder Cup in 2009), the Albany River Rats, and the Charlotte Checkers.
Osala, who was traded by the Caps as part of the package for Joe Corvo (sigh) in 2010, has spent the past three seasons in the KHL. Metallurg traded for him last December after Osala played for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk for more than two years.
[Editor’s note: We’re not writing about this topic to invite a debate on Barack Obama’s presidency or the politics of Crimea. This article is about hockey. Kind of. It’s also about Miley Cyrus.]
In March, Vladimir Putin sent troops into the Crimea. His stated motive was to protect the mostly Russian population there from unrest. A few days later, the Crimean parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation. Putin then claimed Crimea as part of Russia on moral and material grounds, citing the principle of self-determination and Crimea’s strategic importance for Russia or some ish like that.
Lots of world leaders were pretty pissed about this, judging by the non-binding UN resolution (100 of 193 in favor) that declared Crimea’s Moscow-backed referendum invalid a few days later. Then the United States decided to show just how pissed they were by sanctioning Vladimir Putin and all his boyz.
Those of us who watch the news every night and consider ourselves informed knew all of this already. What we didn’t know is who exactly got sanctioned, why they got sanctioned, and why those sanctions matter to us. Thanks to Jennifer M. Smith (whom we had the pleasure of meeting at RMNB Party 6) and her co-workers at the Stewart & Stewart law firm, we have learned that some of the people sanctioned are deeply involved in the Russian hockey league, the KHL. Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, president of Alex Ovechkin’s former KHL team Dynamo Moscow, has been sanctioned by the United States for being Putin’s former judo partner and a member of his inner circle.
You can’t make this stuff up.
This just in: Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has been released from his KHL contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk. This is another hurdle cleared on his path to Washington.
The Caps have a policy of not discussing players currently under contract to other teams. That no longer applies here. What happens next will be interesting.
The news comes directly from the KHL’s Facebook page.
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.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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