KHL standout Artemi Panarin to sign with Blackhawks, but it’s NHL or bust

Jared Clinton
Artemi Panarin (via KHL/YouTube)

The Blackhawks have yet to make it official, but reports have surfaced that one of the most sought after KHL free agents is on the verge of inking a deal with Chicago. If he fails to make the Blackhawks, though, he’ll be heading right back to Russia.

According to Igor Eronko, a vice-president with SKA St. Petersburg, Panarin’s KHL club, confirmed that the 23-year-old winger has signed a deal that has an out-clause: if Panarin isn’t on Chicago’s roster next season, he is free to return to St. Petersburg. Read more

Former KHL coach dies in car accident after attending another KHL coach’s funeral

Matt Larkin
Sergei Mikhalyov. (Photo by Dmitrieva Yuliya/KHL Photo Agency via Getty Images)

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.

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Kovalchuk leads SKA St. Petersburg to decisive victory to capture KHL championship

Jared Clinton
Ilya Kovalchuk (via KHL/YouTube)

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

Watch KHLer score incredible goal to win first game of league final

Jared Clinton
Evgenii Dadonov (via KHL/YouTube)

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

Russian women’s goaltender pays tribute to late Alexei Cherepanov with beautiful mask

Jared Clinton
Maria Sorokina (via Twitter/Andre Ringuette/HHOF Images)

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 snaps, gives Alexander Radulov vicious slash

Jared Clinton
Ilya Kovalchuk takes down Alexander Radulov with a slash (via KHL/YouTube)

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

KHL goal-scoring king Steve Moses leaves Jokerit. Is the NHL next?

Jared Clinton
Steve Moses (via KHL/YouTube)

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