Cuts to KHL salary cap could mean NHL’s “rival” league is a rival no longer

Jared Clinton
Dynamo-Moscow-KHL

When the KHL came into existence in 2008, it was evident that the Russian league’s goal was to become a league that rivaled the NHL in every aspect. That dream may be all but dead, as it appears the league is prepared to slash its salary cap to deal with the plummeting ruble.

During the KHL’s all-star weekend, president Dmitry Chernyshenko spoke to media and told them that he wants to, and plans to, slice the KHL’s salary cap by 50 million rubles each season until 2017-18. A cut of that magnitude is equal to roughly $750,000 USD per season. Were the ruble to stay at its current value, the cuts would leave the KHL’s salary cap at an estimated $14.5 million. Read more

KHL All-Star breakaway attempt better than anything from NHL

Jared Clinton
Nikita Gusev (via YouTube/KHL)

The NHL’s All-Star Skills Competition may boast props and silliness, but this move by Nikita Gusev at the KHL’s Skills Competition is simply downright ridiculous.

Last night saw Ottawa Senators rookie Mike Hoffman try, on more than one occasion, to scoop the puck up lacrosse-style to score a goal. But Gusev does that one better. Or two better even, depending on who you ask. Take a look at this and try to wrap your head around how the 22-year-old Russian does this so effortlessly. Read more

World Junior hero Denis Godla makes huge saves in pro debut

Jared Clinton
Denis Godla (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

Aside from the obvious storylines like Canada’s gold and the collapse by the American team, there were few things more exciting about the World Junior Championship than the inspiring play of Slovakian goaltender Denis Godla.

Now, back in his native Slovakia, Godla made his professional debut. And while it wasn’t a win, the 19-year-old netminder made a pair of spectacular saves that are reminiscent of the WJC. Read more

Anders Nilsson’s desperation stick save is a thing of beauty

Jared Clinton
(via KHL/YouTube)

It takes a couple viewings to really appreciate how outstanding this save from Anders Nilsson is.

Nilsson, the former New York Islanders netminder who now plays for the KHL’s Ak-Bars Kazan, made this stop in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and if it weren’t for some incredible acrobatics, that very well could have been a 4-1 loss. Check out just how much Nilsson contorts his upper body to reach back on this stop, and you get a new appreciation for the save. Read more

KHL player makes insane two-zone lob pass for breakaway goal

Jared Clinton
(via KHL/YouTube)

In football, the Hail Mary is a set play in which the quarterback throws a deep pass just hoping, dreaming, that one of his players will come down with the ball. In a way, you could call Dmitry Meleshko’s lob pass a Hail Mary of sorts.

On Thursday, as Meleshko’s Dynamo Minsk took on Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, he picked up a loose puck in front of his own goal, wheeled into the right wing faceoff circle, saw a streaking Olexander Materukhin, and put a perfect lob pass right into his teammates hand. It’s the kind of play you’d use in a game of shinny: Read more

In strangest play of the year, KHL player gets trapped in glass

Jared Clinton
Tomi Maki was pinned between two sheets of plexiglass following a hit during a game Sunday night. (via KHL/YouTube)

It’s hard to imagine there will be an odder moment this season in professional hockey than what happened on Sunday night in the KHL.

In the middle of play, Helsinki Jokerit winger Tomi Maki took a hit along the boards from CSKA Moscow winger Igor Makarov. Maki wasn’t just pinned along the boards by the hit, he actually ended up pinned to the boards. Read more

Five Russians that Canadians will hate in the gold medal game

Vyacheslav Leshenko (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Russia will play for gold at the World Junior Championship thanks to a sturdy 4-1 win over Sweden, setting up a classic showdown with Canada on Toronto ice.

Part of the reason the Cold War has never ended in arenas is that there is a certain mystery and awe surrounding the Russians over here. Most of the world junior team still plays on the other side of the world and the KHL’s existence means that some of the better players in Russia never have to come over here.

Because rivalries are fun (and because I can’t write in Cyrillic), here are the five Russians that Canadians will love to hate – and learn to fear – in the gold medal game. To up the rivalry factor, none are plying their trade in North America right now.

Read more

What makes a great fan base? It’s a lot more than just noise

WC Crowd

When we were building the formula for our NHL Fan Rankings, the notion of noise was tabled. Should we try to concoct a volume measurement and weave that into the calculations?

The suggestion fell on deaf ears, for a couple reasons. For starters, we couldn’t think of an objective methodology. There is no decibel-per-game average available anywhere. Secondly, and more to the point, loudness doesn’t necessarily equal good fandom. Read more