Slava Voynov’s journey home to Russia last month was not something he expected to happen so early in his career. But after pleading “no contest” to a misdemeanor charge of spousal abuse and spending 90 days in jail, Voynov left North America for his homeland while still under suspension from the NHL and the Los Angeles Kings.
However, as soon as he started skating at the Russian national team training facility over a week ago with the national team coach Oleg Znarok, his future in the KHL became a topic for debate. “My emotions are positive,” Voynov said after the first skate. “It is a shame, though, that I am coming back under such circumstances.”
But this is where the situation can get tricky for Voynov.
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The Kontinental Hockey League’s meeting between its president and the managers of its franchises was scheduled some time ago. But it took on new, vital importance this week thanks to the league’s crisis over the ruble’s drop in value and teams struggling to pay players.
KHL President Dmitry Chernyshenko, still new to the job, revealed what course they decided to take to steady the league:
“For the first time the KHL and its leadership met with member clubs to openly, without the media, discuss all internal questions, problems, challenges we are facing. We need to understand that I, as a new President of the League, was tasked by the Board of Directors with presenting a new development strategy for the KHL. The League right now is a serious developed product. This is not a situation where something needs to be saved. The task is to make it more interesting and appealing [emphasis added]…”
The most interesting notes from the meeting:
The Survival Of The Clubs
The talk of actual hockey in the KHL has moved into the shadow of other topics. The most pressing: In light of the massive free-fall of the Russian ruble over the last two days, there’s a financial crisis the sheer volume of which the country hasn’t seen since 1998.
In two months, the Russian ruble lost half of its value to the U.S. dollar and the Euro. This is an ongoing crisis, which means that the exchange rate for the Russian currency has not bottomed out. The ineptness and reactive rather than proactive response from the Russian Central Bank has not has the desired effect on the markets.
Arkady Rottenberg, President of Dynamo Moscow and one of the most influential people in the KHL, mentioned that the League should move away from the U.S. dollar.
He said the following to Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport, during media day for the Russian national team in Novogorsk:
“We live in the Russian Federation, and all transactions are conducted in rubles.”
(It should be noted that non-Russian KHL clubs are not tied to the Russian ruble).
Moreover, KHL contracts do not have any provisions tying the Russian ruble to any other currency, meaning there is no way to index their salary.
As the statement to R-Sport by CSKA’s General Director Igor Esmantovich read: “Victor Vasilievich Tikhonov passed away this morning at a hospital at 1 this morning after a long illness. CSKA Hockey Club is extending its deepest condolences and will take on all of the tasks related to the organization of the funeral.”
There is one member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builders category from Russia/Soviet Union – Anatoli Tarasov. Considered the patriarch of Russian hockey, Tarasov was considered a tough disciplinarian, heavy handed with brutal training methods. All that coupled with the hockey sense like no other in the country at the time, he was the innovator and his teams won.
If Tarasov was the patriarch, Tikhonov was his archbishop.
Assuming the reign of power at CSKA in 1977, Tikhonov was the architect and the engineer of the Red Machine that was the pride of the entire country for the next 15 years. All of the pride that current Russian hockey players and fans feel when they don their country’s jersey, to this day, is without a doubt attributed to Tikhonov.
Dmitry Chesnokov is a writer for Puck Daddy and Yahoo Sports.
For the Washington Capitals, the arrival of Evgeni Kuznetsov late last season was a welcome addition. The Capitals have for years struggled to fill the second line center spot that was one of the Achilles heels for the club. Kuznetsov, who was selected by the Capitals in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, was the prime player to fill that role.
“I haven’t really comprehended exactly what was happening due to the short amount of time I spent playing in the NHL last season,” Kuznetsov shared his thoughts with me this week, regarding last season.
With the arrival of the new coach Kuznetsov feels he has even a better shot now.
“We have a new coach this season, so for me everything is new again.” Kuznetsov said. “And it is a plus for me in a way, because it is new for all of the guys here with the new coach. We are all equal here now. And it is a good thing. Everyone was expecting to play defense first and only, but it is not the case. We attack, and defensemen are encouraged to go forward. We will play attacking style hockey this season. We are just told how to play defense the right way.”
But Kuznetsov is focused on the team first.
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals spoke with Pavel Lysenkov of SovSport recently for another wide-ranging interview, one that covered everything from his injury at the world championships to asking Vladimir Putin for cars as gifts for his teammates to dealing with another new coach in D.C.
Oh, and he also addressed his problem with plus/minus.
Here’s the interview; the Russian language version is here.
Q. After a disappointing season the Capitals started cleaning the house, and the head coach Adam Oates and the general manager George McPhee were let go, you said ‘It’s good that I wasn’t kicked out.’ Is this even possible? Ovechkin is the symbol of the city. You were given keys to the city!
OVECHKIN: “This is business. Right now we are sitting, and suddenly I will get a call: ‘Man, you have been traded to another team.’ And I just bought a house, and haven’t made it my own yet.”
And what to do with the house then? Sell it?
“Why? I will keep it. I like living in Washington.”
Have you spoken with Alexander Radulov about Trotz who coached him in Nashville?
Washington acquired two quality defensemen from Pittsburgh.
Two and a half years after the plane crash that took lives of the entire Lokomotiv KHL team, authorities finished their investigations into the crash, concluding that the flight crew was allowed to fly unlawfully, according to First Yaroslavl TV Channel and Sovetsky Sport.
Investigators performed forensic analysis of all evidence, interviewed hundreds of witnesses of the crash, spoke to the relatives of players and coaches and employees of Yak Service airline that was responsible for the flight. Following the investigation, only one person will be criminally charged as a result of the crash – the former deputy general director of Yak Service airline Vadim Timofeyev. Working at the airline he was responsible for flight operations. The prosecutors are charging Timofeyev with criminal negligence related to safety and operation of a plane.
Cam Ward has played just 47 games in the last two seasons for the Carolina Hurricanes due to injuries. This season, he was 10-12-6 with a save percentage of .898. He’ll earn $6.7 million next season and then $6.8 million in 2015-16, after which he’ll become a free agent.
Anton Khudobin was Carolina’s best goalie this season, is three years younger and costs over $4 million against the cap cheaper than Ward.
Khudobin respects Ward. But he also feels like, perhaps, his time is over in Carolina.
“Of course he is a strong goaltender. He is a good goaltender. No one is counting him out. They [Carolina] will decide what to do with him this year, this summer. Maybe he, how can I say, has presented everything he could have,” said Khudobin at a Russian National Team press conference on Monday.
Presented everything he has with Carolina or in the NHL?
“Maybe at this club. Maybe in his career. He has been playing in the NHL since he was 19,” said Khudobin.
This should make for an interesting training camp. Provided Ward is still a Hurricane.
Some additional words from Khudobin:
How do you rate this season?