Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lynn Zinser of the New York Times,
As Jaromir Jagr got ready for the latest unique experience in a season already full of them, he said he has no regrets about leaving the N.H.L. to play in Russia, despite watching a teammate die on the bench, having his coach quit in the middle of a game and playing in a league whose financial situation is said to be faltering.
“You could write a book about it,” Jagr said of his season during a telephone interview from Moscow. “But I’m fine. I’m doing good. I’m happy.”
On Friday, Jagr was getting ready to take center stage for the Continental Hockey League, or K.H.L., All-Star game on Saturday at an outdoor rink in Red Square. There, Jagr is the all-star of all stars, the biggest name in a league marketing itself around him.
added 5:33pm, from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News,
Jaromir Jagr said he has no designs on returning to the NHL in the short term, but if he ever did return he would be happy to go back to the Pittsburgh Penguins to play for his former idol, Mario Lemieux.
“I was thinking about it and if Mario would call me and say, ‘I’d like you to play for our team,’ I would think about it a lot,” Jagr said in a telephone interview from Moscow where the Kontinental League will hold its inaugural All-Star Game outdoors at Red Square Saturday. “I would play for the minimum salary. I would play for $350,000 just for him because I owe him my hockey life. I want to pay him back because he has made me what I am…besides my parents.”
from Russia Today,
The coach of Avangard Omsk hockey team didn’t return to the bench for the third period of his team’s home game against Vityaz Podolsk. Canadian specialist Wayne Fleming couldn’t do so as he’d been fired during the break.
After the second period Avangard were losing 1-0 to lowly Vityaz and the club’s bosses had just had enough of the team’s poor performance in the current KHL season.
I hope the NHL doesn’t pick-up on this marketing idea. It sort of spooks me out.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
As with all start-ups, it has not exactly been smooth sailing for the KHL in its inaugural season. On Saturday, the league’s board of directors met to ponder an idea that had been floated the week before – a 30 per-cent across-the-board contract rollback to cut costs for some of the most under-funded franchises.
Amid heavy opposition from the newly formed players’ association (run by Andrei Kovalenko, a former NHL, nicknamed The Tank in his playing days), the proposal was put on the shelf at least for the duration of this season. KHL president Alexander Medvedev decided, according to sources, that trying to force a rollback would cause more headaches than it would solve problems….
The KHL salary cap will almost certainly be reduced next season; and Medvedev – a major emerging force in the hockey world - went to great lengths to warn teams that were in arrears in paying player salaries that those agreements needed to be honored. He went so far as to say the government might even intervene if promises weren’t kept.
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
Here’s what sets (Kirill) Kabanov apart from most other 16-year-olds: he can afford to shop on Tverskaya.
The young hockey prospect is paid $20,000 (U.S.) a month by the fabled Russian hockey club Spartak Moscow, a princely sum next to the room-and-board stipend for stars in Canada’s major junior leagues.
Several scouts say the Moscow native, the Kontinental Hockey League’s youngest player, stands a good chance to become the No.1 pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft.
J.P. Barry, the agent for Mats Sundin and Evgeni Malkin, said Kabanov’s quickness is comparable to Alex Ovechkin at the same age and other agents and scouts are similarly complimentary. Three years ago, when Kabanov was 13, NHL super-agent Don Meehan flew him and his father Sergei, a former Russian army special forces major, to Toronto in an unsuccessful bid to sign Kabanov to a representation contract, Sergei Kabanov said.
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
On a recent Friday night, an unseasonably warm night for northern Russia in late November, Emery was a world away from the scrutiny and was asked what kind of mood he wakes up in most mornings.
“At the start I do the old, `Where am I?’ when I open my eyes but now I’m used to it,” he said. “Sometimes I’m still confused or feel a bit homesick when I wake up. It’s been a pretty good break for the most part. I’m just relaxing. It’s nice not having that microscope on you, being able to live.
“I miss a lot about Canada, North America, just living there, conversing with people. But at the same time, I don’t miss not being comfortable at dinner because people are watching you and you feel eyes on you all the time.”
read on as Westhead continues with stories from Russia…
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
“There’s no question the hockey is a lot different,” Jagr said. “You’ve got to skate a lot more here, playing on the larger Olympic ice, and there’s more room. Even if you take a shot from near the boards here, you’re really not that close to the net.”
Game programs are free and there are no air horns, organs or vendors walking the aisles. But rock music reverberates through the stadium during breaks in play and over centre ice an NHL-quality video board shows replays.
Between periods, spectators line up at concession counters, and for about $4.50 at one concessionaire called “Chicken Next Door,” they can buy chicken nuggets or kabobs. A pint-sized beer costs $3.80 and Pringle’s potato chips are available for $6.70 for a large, or $3.60 for a small. Jagr and Cherapanov black home jerseys – they bear a resemblance to those worn by the Buffalo Sabres – are available for about $70 apiece.
From Canwest via the Ottawa Citizen:
The inaugural Continental Hockey League All-Star Game will have an NHL ring to it.
The KHL announced on its website that the all-star game - which will be played outdoors at Moscow’s Red Square on Jan. 11 - will pit “Yashin Team” vs. “Jagr Team.”
The Yashin Team, headed by former Ottawa Senator and New York Islander Alexei Yashin, will feature players from Russia and former Soviet republics. Jagr Team, headed by former Pittsburgh Penguins great Jaromir Jagr, will be made up of non-Russian players.
The format was decided by fan voting on the KHL website. The KHL announced Wednesday that 50.13 per cent of voters favoured the Yashin vs. Jagr format, while 49.87 per cent favoured a more tradition West vs. East format.
The KHL’s Vice-President of Hockey Operations Vladimir Shalaeva and others addressed the media at a press conference today in Moscow, with updates surrounding the investigation into Cherepanov’s death.
“Today November 14, 2008, there was a move to close the criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Aleksei Cherepanov, however the prosecutor ordered that the criminal investigation continue.
“A comprehensive forensic study, conducted by additional medical specialists is underway to more deeply and thoroughly analyze the case. We will not be able to share the cause of death of Alexei Cherepanov until this examination is completed in full.”
Shalaeva also noted that the New York Rangers have provided their own medical records on Cherepanov to the KHL.
Last week the KHL announced it was undertaking medical evaluations across the league and invited media members to observe the process.
Today, after the first round of evaluations have been completed on some 67 players under the age of 20, some preliminary results were made public:
Based upon the first round of examinations, three KHL players were found to have heart problems. These athletes were referred to cardiologist specialists to undergo more testing.
The KHL’s Medical Center won’t be banning players as yet; the cardiologists will make that determination.
Full text of the press release is below:
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