Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob Duff of the Windsor Star,
Michael Leighton won’t be returning to Russia for the upcoming Kontinental Hockey League season, but not for the reason you might think.
The former Windsor Spitfires goalie who calls LaSalle home was all set to join the expansion HC Sochi team for his second season of KHL action when illness felled Leighton.
Unable to attend training camp – KHL teams open camp in mid-to-late July leading to the early September start of regular-season play – Leighton and HC Sochi officials mutually agreed to void the contract he’d signed with the team.
“I was with Sochi and got sick and wasn’t sure when I was going to be able to make it there,” Leighton, 33, explained. “They have the right to look for another goalie and I agreed that I didn’t know when I’d be able to get there, so we both agreed to terminate the contract.”...
During the 2013-14 campaign, he suited up for Donbass Donetsk, the only Ukrainian-based franchise in the KHL and a city that currently finds itself in the midst of the armed conflict within that country....
“Where I was last year, it was fine all year until close to the end of the year and into the playoffs,” Leighton said. As troubles mounted in the area, the Donbass club moved to a base in Bratislava, Slovakia, playing its playoff games on the road.
“It did get kind of scary, because we weren’t playing at home,” Leighton said. “Teams didn’t want to travel to the Ukraine.
“When the season was done and I was home, I was happy that I was home.”
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
There will be no Ukrainian team in the KHL next season as the hockey world begins to wonder about the effects of a long-term conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Donbass Donetsk — Ukraine’s only entry in the KHL — is on sabbatical for one season, a decision reached in June after the team’s arena was sacked, looted and set afire in May.
While most believe hockey will carry on as usual — or at least with blinders on — there is a belief that should tensions worsen, the KHL will suffer in terms of the level of play and from U.S. economic sanctions.
So far there has been no mass migration from the KHL, but it’s worth noting that the league’s signing season occurred largely before the current escalation that includes the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine.
“I don’t anticipate that as a cause and effect at this point,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly when asked about the possibility players would leave Russia. “I assume if the conflict is prolonged and/or worsens that may change, but I think it’s a fairly remote consideration for most players right now.”
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today that forward Vladimir Sobotka has been awarded a one-year contract through arbitration.
Sobotka will play the for Avangard Omsk in the KHL for the 2014-15 season. The terms of his arbitration contract will be enforced when Sobotka returns to the NHL.
“We are looking forward to having Vladimir in a Blues uniform when he returns to the NHL,” said Armstrong. “We wish him the best of luck in the upcoming season.”
from Dan Marrazza of Sports Illustrated,
SI: How did you end up in Poland?
Danton: The team had been interested [in me] the last couple of years. One agent who deals with that league approached me and asked if I would be interested. I jumped at the opportunity because I had to get out of Kazakhstan.
SI: Your criminal background is pretty well documented. How familiar are European fans and players with it? Do they try to antagonize you based on your past?
Danton: They know. I’ve had to put up with the same stupid jokes for the last four or five years. Anything about jail or being gay. During one game [in Tychy, Poland] a guy filled a cup with urine and threw it on me as I was going through the tunnel. They said it was just beer, and that’s what the local beer smells and tastes like. But I know what piss smells like, and it was definitely not beer. It was just very classless. That’s too far. I’m obviously doing my job because I’m really pissing them off.
SI: How do you respond when things like this happen?
Danton: I just wave and blow kisses at them. Or I wink at their girlfriends. Ask for their phone numbers. And that pisses them off even more. I’ve got an answer for everything. But I’ve heard these things so many times, so it doesn’t even faze me. I just laugh.
from Vladimir Kozlov at SportsBusiness Global,
The Kontinental Hockey League has lowered the salary cap from 1.39B rubles ($40.4M) to 1.1B rubles ($32M) per squad for next season. Squads that go over that figure will be subject to a 20% “luxury tax” on any extra spendings. According to KHL President Alexander Medvedev, who announced the new salary cap on the air of Sport FM radio, another difference will be that the cap will apply to all players. Last season, some players who moved to the KHL from the NHL were exempt from the cap.
from Sean Fitz-Gerlad of the National Post,
Andrew McKim still gets the headaches, the migraines, and he still sees the stars when he sneezes. His wife, Leanne, has become adept at reading the markers of his pain, even as it presents itself as a certain look at the dinner table. She will ask him how he is feeling, and he will sometimes answer: “It’s just like a knife in my ear right now.”
He was an avid reader before the injury, she said, but not since, not with the all trouble he has concentrating. He used to be more eager to greet the morning, too, but not after, when she would rise and he would remain in bed, in agony, if the weather outside had shifted.
“It’s the same, I guess, as someone with arthritis, when they can tell that the weather is not very good, or that bad weather is coming,” she said. “That’s the way he is with his head.”
Andrew McKim knows he is not the same man he was before Oct. 31, 2000, when he was a happily married father of two young children, a slick forward from the Maritimes with a six-figure salary to play professional hockey in Switzerland. That was the life he enjoyed, the life he wanted....
Kevin Miller was a winger with Davos. A cousin of Ryan Miller, a long-time goaltender and member of the U.S. Olympic team, Miller had also spent time in the NHL. He was known not as a dirty player, but as a journeyman who could squeeze out 20 goals in a season.
Part of his life changed, too, in that game.
from John Agar of Mlive,
A federal judge has upheld a Swiss court’s $1.1 million judgment against former Detroit Red Wing Kevin Miller whose hit from behind in a Switzerland league ended the career of another player.
Miller, who played for the Red Wings and several other NHL teams, along with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Michigan State University, injured Andrew McKim, a Canadian, during a 2000 championship game.
Miller checked McKim in the head and neck after McKim took a shot on goal. McKim fell forward and struck his head on the ice. He was hospitalized several weeks with a concussion and other injuries.
Allianz Suisse Versicherungs-Gesellschaft, a Swiss insurance company that covered McKim, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids to enforce the judgment it obtained in Switzerland in 2010.
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
Of course, should Ovechkin decide to change leagues, he’d need to be extremely careful lest he come off looking like an even bigger villain than Ilya Kovalchuk did when he abruptly abandoned the New Jersey Devils last summer. There would be a sizeable contingent of mortified Washington fans no matter what Ovechkin said to explain himself, but life is all about framing and this situation would be no different.
Here’s how he should frame it: by pointing to other teams that have parted ways with their franchise player and discovered the devil they knew wasn’t always better than the one they didn’t. Take the Blue Jackets, for example. There was no shortage of angst-ridden Columbus fans when management traded their franchise cornerstone, Rick Nash, to the Rangers in the summer of 2012. That transaction benefitted the Jackets as much as it did Nash (who no longer had the full weight of an organization sitting on his shoulders). It was a classic short-term-pain-for-long-term-gain scenario.
Ovechkin leaving for the KHL would free up some $9.5 million in salary cap space for the seven years remaining on his contract. As we should know by now, that space would allow Caps management to acquire two or three high-quality talents and add balance to a roster that desperately needs it. Ovechkin could paint himself as making a sacrifice for the long-term good of the franchise.
There is some question whether the NHL would provide cap relief to the Capitals if Ovechkin returned to Russia, but the league would have an extremely tough time justifying a rejection of cap relief for one team after providing it to the Devils. As well, KHL president Alexander Medvedev recently gave an interview with Russian publication championat.com in which he said, “there is a legal way for any player if he decides to play in another league (to do so) without breaking the mutual (KHL/NHL) agreement to respect each other’s contracts.” Clearly, it’s technically possible.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
One of the more inspiring stories of the hockey world occurred in Russia, during the first round of the Kontinental Hockey League playoffs, when Yaroslav Lokomotiv upset the two-time defending league champions Moscow Dynamo in the opening round.
Yaroslav lost its entire team in that plane crash back in September of 2011, forcing them to rebuild an historic organization from the ground up. The team had two coaching changes this season, with the veteran Dave King taking over four games from the end of the season, just as the Olympic break occurred, with the hopes of getting the team to the playoffs. Yaroslav went to Garmisch Parkenkirchen, Germany to train during the break, came back, squeezed into the playoffs as the eighth (and final seed) and then took out Dynamo in seven games in the opening round, an upset of major proportion.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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