Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
We’ve been told for years that a day like this was coming.
Ever since the Kontinental Hockey League came into existence in 2008 and promptly brought Alexander Radulov and Jaromir Jagr over to Russia, the spectre of a rival league that could lure top-level talent away from the NHL hung over the hockey world.
Finally, the KHL has its poster boy.
That Ilya Kovalchuk is headed home in the prime of his career just months before the Olympic Games are held in Sochi, Russia is probably not a coincidence. The financial incentive for someone in his skates has never been greater; neither has the pressure from those with power and influence.
And even though there probably won’t be a flood of players chasing immediately behind him, one industry source with strong ties in Europe wondered aloud Thursday: “The big question is who is joining him?”
For now, that remains to be seen.
from Alexei Bayer of The Moscow Times,
Even though the NHL is still the most prestigious hockey competition, hockey in North America is in crisis. The NHL has been convulsed by regular strikes and player lockouts. But there are deeper problems. In North America, hockey is played on narrow rinks, where big, fast defensemen make it very difficult to skate. Goal cages are too small for huge goalies wearing wide light-weight equipment. With the exception of the four-on-four overtime, NHL games have turned into boring, grinding, low-scoring contests between huge men on skates elbowing each other along the boards. No wonder it is the least popular of the four major team sports in the U.S.
"European" hockey is played on wider surfaces. It is a beautiful, swift game where skating and passing are at a premium. It certainly has a better chance to win worldwide following — if only it can get the right leadership.
Russia is uniquely positioned to provide such leadership. Hockey stars are, along with hydrocarbons and weapons, its only world-class export. In 2008, Russia used its bulk and resources to form a Eurasian league, the KHL, which next year will have teams from 7 neighboring countries, including some hockey powerhouses. A team from Vladivostok will also enter the competition. This may become a gateway to the Far East, and professional clubs may be soon organized in Japan, South Korea, China and even Alaska. American kids, for example, started playing hockey long after NHL clubs appeared in U.S. cities.
What Russia needs is to view the KHL as a purely commercial undertaking and not a national one. It should pattern its business model on the NHL. As matters now stand, the KHL is excessively Russia-centered. Even its main trophy, the Gagarin Cup, has nothing to do with hockey and everything with Russia's chip-on-the-shoulder nationalism and outdated patriotism.
from Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN,
A trip to the rural corners of Lancaster County is like being locked inside a Cracker Barrel. The houses smell like freshly baked bread. There are rocking chairs everywhere, sort of a reminder to slow down and take everything in. Cruise down Route 72, through the rolling hills, and occasionally a horse and buggy will snarl traffic. But that's OK; there's no hurry. Unless, of course, you're chasing something big.
For weeks, the locals had no idea that a Russian hockey team was living among them, running stadium steps, riding a mechanical bull and yelling, "Yeah baby!" after intense workouts. In their Under Armour shirts and Hollister shorts, the players look like average American teenagers. They're not.
This story started two years ago, nearly 5,000 miles away, when a Russian plane crashed and the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional hockey team perished. The world is a great big place, but the hockey world is small. Everyone in the sport was affected that September day in 2011. Players from all over Russia signed up to be part of a new Lokomotiv team in honor of their former teammates, friends and opponents. An American, Tom Rowe, moved to Russia to coach them, even though he didn't speak a lick of the language.
While we wait for some trade news, why not sit back and watch the top 10 goals regular season goals from the Swedish Elite League.
Thanks to our friend the HockeyWebcaster for the viideo which you can watch below.
from Harrison Mooney of Puck Daddy (Sunday post),
Tragic news out of the Kazakhstan Vyschaya Liga, the highest professional hockey league in Kazakhstan, where Russian forward Dmitri Uchaykin has passed away the morning after being hospitalized due to a hit to the head.
Uchaykin suited up Saturday night for his club, HC Ertis-Pavlodar, in a game versus HC Arystan. Midway through the game, he was knocked unconscious on a high hit from Arystan forward Donatas Kumeliuskas.
He was taken immediately to hospital, lapsing into a coma on the way there. The following morning, he died.
Watch a video of the incident below which is eerily similar to some recent hits we have seen.
from Henrik Manninen at IIHF.com,
A standout both on and off the ice in his native country, 19-year-old Yuto Osawa opted to travel west to Sweden to continue his development - a move set to pay dividends for Japanese hockey in the future.
When Ronald Sätterman scrutinised his roster ahead of this season, a kid from Hokkaido surprised the newly appointed head coach of Mora IK:s under-20 team.
"I must admit I didn't know enough about hockey in Japan and it was a deal that had been done before I arrived to the club," said Sätterman about the transfer of Osawa to Mora. "So when I saw that there was a Japanese player in our under-20's, I expected him to end up with our affiliate team, Orsa Hockey in division two, but when I then during our first practises I very quickly realised that this kid was good."
The story of how a teenage Asian prospect ended up in small town Sweden has its beginnings at the tail end of last season. The Oji Eagles had then approached Mora about the possibility of sending over one of their youngsters, a highly-rated young playmaker, overseas to develop his game in Europe. With the Japanese club taking care of all costs, the two teams shook hands on a gamble that has since benefited both parties.
via the CP at TSN,
Defenceman Chris Campoli will play the rest of the 2012-13 season with a team in Switzerland, according to Swiss media reports.
The Geneva Tribune and Swiss Hockey News reported that Campoli, who helped negotiate a new NHL collective bargaining agreement, has signed for the balance of the season with Geneva of Switzerland's top league. Geneva used its eighth and last foreign-player license to sign him.
Campoli, a 28-year-old Mississauga, Ont., native, played for the Montreal Canadiens last season, recording two goals and nine assists, but his contract was not renewed. He was an unrestricted free agent while serving as a member of the NHL Players Association's negotiating committee during the lockout. He had been seeking a new team since the lockout ended in early January.
from The Voice of Russia,
Ice hockey legend Sergey Fedorov is mulling over a return to competitive hockey at the age of 43, says CSKA Moscow’s interim head coach Vyacheslav Butsaev.
Fedorov, who has not played a game since leaving Metallurg Magnitogorsk at the end of last season, is currently plying his trade as CSKA’s general manager.
“We’ve talked to him about it [returning to ice rink],” the R-Sport news agency quotes Butsaev as saying. According to Butsaev, Fedorov has been training recently and is now in “excellent condition.”
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org