On Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals, the Maple Leafs brought along around 30 dads, brothers, and father-in-laws for a highly-anticipated trip. This season, the Leafs, under second-year head coach Mike Babcock, have a “mandate” to create a more welcoming and supportive environment for their players.
“To have these dads along, I think this is how you treat people right,” Babcock said in an article by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet. “It gives you an opportunity to thank your dad for what he’s done.”
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Today those same outlets, Sovetsky Sport particularly, pulled a CNN and denied their own report (and unpublished the original stories), claiming that Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Leo Komarov doesn’t fit the definition of “loaned” players.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.
Despite the Russian National Team beating out Team Sweden for the Channel One Cup, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom remain friends, as evidenced by this photo tweeted out by line-mate Leo Komarov. Sure, this embrace is not as epic as the bro hug the two shared when Backstrom first signed, but look at these guys. Tiiiiiiight for lyffffee.
Ovechkin on his GWG: “YEEEEEEESS!!” (Photo credit: Dynamo.ru)
Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin are on quite a streak. Backstrom has points in his last six contests (including one hat trick) and has been held without a point in just two of ten games since joining Dynamo Moscow. Meanwhile, Ovechkin has a five-game point streak going and has been held without a point in just three of his 19 games in the ‘K’.
On Friday against Severstal Cherepovets, Dynamo’s first line got even deadlier, as Toronto Maple Leaf Leo Komarov joined the team after a stint with the Marlies of the AHL. The trio combined to put up 8 points and 3 goals in Dynamo’s 5-3 win over Severstal. Backstrom, who was celebrating his 25th birthday, had four points (a goal and three assists) while his BFF Ovi had two goals, including the game-winner.
Let’s see this video.
Slava Kozlov (Dynamo) and Nikita Pivtsakin (Avangard) go at each other during regular season Avangard – Dynamo game (Photo credit: OldWest.su)
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).
A portrait of Chris Simon taken by the KHL’s official magazine, Hot Ice
After leaving the Washington Capitals in 2002, Chris Simon played for five different NHL clubs over the following seven seasons. He received four suspensions during that time, including a 25-game ban for slashing Ryan Hollweg in the face and a 30-game sit down for tripping Jarkko Ruutu and then stomping on his leg with his skate.
In 2008, Simon opted to have a clean slate and joined the KHL. He signed with the league’s toughest team, Vityaz Chekhov. Known as the “Indian” among Vityaz fans, Simon quickly became a fan favorite and was named captain of the team. With Vityaz, he participated in the mega-brawl against Avangard Omsk, which resulted in both teams accumulating 600 PIM and a cancellation of the match. However, Simon’s scoring totals steadily grew every year in the KHL (eight goals in 2008-09, 13 in 2009-10 and 16 in 2010-11) and he was recently named to the 2011 KHL All-Star Game. Rumors that he would be traded at the deadline were circulating and finally, five days before the All-Star Game, he was traded to UHC Dynamo Moscow, who were looking to add some grit to their line-up for the playoffs. The second seed in the East, Dynamo was upset by Dinamo Riga in the first-round in a heart-breaking six-game series. Shortly after, Sport-Express spoke with the former Cap.
Below the jump, RMNB’s Igor Kleyer has translated the rare Simon interview. The 39 year-old talks about what it was like to learn Russian, who helped him settle in with his new team and why he decided to become a “tough guy” in the first place.
When talking about the KHL player Leo Komarov, you have many different things you can describe him as: fan favorite, agitator, hitter or secondary scorer. Knowing that he was raised in Finland you understand Komarov is like Jarkko Ruutu or Sean Bergenheim. He is the type of guy you hate to play against.
Komarov, who was born in Estonia but is a duel citizen of Russia and Finland, is one of the Russian league’s brightest young stars. He racked up 26 points (including 14 goals) while registering 70 penalty minutes over 52 games in the 2010-11 KHL regular season, and also played in the Kontinental Hockey League’s All-Star Game. In the playoffs, which ended, well, earlier than expected for Dynamo, Komarov posted a remarkable four goals in just six games.
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