A cruel and tragic twist of fate struck the Russian hockey community over the past week.
First, coach Valery Belousov passed away April 16. He was 66. Belousov won three Russian championships and enjoyed a successful run in the KHL late in his career, most famously guiding Traktor Chelyabinsk from the league basement in 2010-11 to the Gagarin Cup final in 2012-13.
Then, returning home from Belousov’s funeral April 21, coach Sergei Mikhalyov died in a car accident in the Chelyabinsk region. He was 67. He coached Salavat Yulaev Ufa for several seasons and most recently served as GM of Lada Togliatti in the VHL, Russia’s second-tier pro league. Mikhalyov also coached Russia’s world junior team to a silver medal in 2006.
If Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal when he left the New Jersey Devils and the NHL for SKA and the KHL was to bring a league championship to St. Petersburg, he’s accomplished it.
Up 3-1 in the Gagarin Cup final over Eastern Conference champion Kazan, Kovalchuk’s SKA club absolutely dominated Ak Bars in what would be the fifth and deciding game of the series. It took only 1:13 for St. Petersburg to get on the board, too, when Jimmie Ericsson found the back of the net before fans had even really settled in. From there, it was all SKA. Read more
Evgenii Dadonov has been near unstoppable in the post-season for the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg, but things are getting unfair at this point.
In the first game of the Gagarin Cup final, the KHL’s league championship series, Dadonov took a pass in the neutral zone and skated up ice on a partial 2-on-1 break. With Vadim Shipachyov driving the net, Dadonov took it upon himself to make Ak Bars Kazan defender Vladimir Denisov look like a recreation league defenseman before sneaking the puck past a reaching Anders Nilsson: Read more
All news releases should be written with the candor that the International Ice Hockey Federation displayed in its ruling against a Russian world junior defenseman.
Goaltenders have used mask art to pay tribute to troops, they’ve shown their love for family and friends and in some cases the legends who came before them. For Russia’s Maria Sorokina, her mask for the Women’s World Championship honors the life of Alexei Cherepanov.
Cherepanov, you may recall, was drafted 17th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2007 draft. While playing in the KHL for Avangard Omsk in 2008, Cherepanov tragically passed away at the age of 19. During an October 2008 contest against Vityaz Chekhov, Cherepanov returned to the bench following a shift, collapsed and was later pronounced dead. His death shocked the hockey world. Read more
Ilya Kovalchuk has been in the news lately due to reports regarding his potential exit from the KHL and return to the NHL. Thanks to a Paul Bunyan-esque chop to the legs of Alexander Radulov, he’s grabbing headlines for another reason.
The slash came in the first game of the KHL’s Western Conference Final, which pits Kovalchuk’s SKA St. Petersburg against Radulov’s CSKA Moscow. With St. Petersburg down 3-0 and Radulov in control of the puck, Kovalchuk approached Radulov from behind and tagged his ankle with a violent chop. Read more
After three seasons with Finland’s Helsinki Jokerit — and only months since he broke the KHL’s single-season goal-scoring record — winger Steve Moses has announced he is leaving the KHL club, and he’s likely to be heading back to North America.
In a video posted on the Jokerit website, Moses thanked the organization and its fans for all the support he’s received over the past three seasons. In the interview, Moses talked about what his future may hold and mentioned that he has been thinking about returning to North America. Read more
Though there’s over two weeks remaining in the NHL regular-season schedule, it can’t end soon enough for the moribund Toronto Maple Leafs and their disappointed fans. The Leafs have slid to 27th overall, entering Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers having won only six games since Jan. 1.
The National Post’s Michael Traikos reports attendance at the Air Canada Centre has declined to the lowest levels in the arena’s 16-year history. For the first time since 1972, Hockey Night in Canada booted the Leafs off a recent Saturday-night telecast.
Toronto fans are left wishing for the Leafs to win the 2015 NHL Draft lottery and the right to select future NHL superstar center Connor McDavid. Pundits, meanwhile, continue to speculate over which members of the current Leafs roster won’t be around when training camp opens in September. Read more