Pavel Valentenko, a fifth round draft pick of the Canadiens in 2005, has reportedly signed a contract with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL. (Photo by Getty Images)
Did you ever get the impression these guys from the Kontinental League are just making things up as they go along?
The latest installment in what is becoming a complete farce involves Montreal Canadiens prospect Pavel Valentenko, who was granted a leave of absence from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American League to attend to family matters, then, according to the Moscow Dynamo website, signed a three-year deal to play in the KHL.
Still trying to get to the bottom of this one and hope to have an update soon from both sides, but one thing is clear – this is getting ridiculous.
First, the KHL starts signing players who are under NHL contracts, then justifies it by saying it has done nothing the NHL hasn’t been doing for years with their players.
Then it assures the NHL that, from now on, everything will be done in good faith and it would be best for everyone involved if both leagues respect each other’s contracts. Then it leaks a letter from Alexander Radulov saying he wants, in no uncertain terms, to play in the KHL, a statement Radulov refutes days later, saying he’ll accept whatever the ruling is on his contract in arbitration and that he hasn’t closed the door on playing in the NHL again.
Then a KHL team goes out and signs an NHL-committed player, one would assume with the blessing of the same people who said they would respect NHL contracts.
Of course, Valentenko can make a lot more money playing in the KHL than he can in the AHL. You’d think he’d have thought of that before he signed with the Canadiens knowing he’d have to spend at least a couple of seasons in Hamilton.
As previously mentioned, this is getting absurd.
EAST VS. WEST
With Eastern and Western Conference teams meeting more often this season, out of conference games are going to be more important than they have been in a number of years.
Not surprisingly, the West continues to get the better of the East in head-to-head encounters. In the 46 intra-conference games that have been played so far this season, the West has a 26-16-4 record and has outscored the East by a margin of 135-131.
But the gap isn’t quite as pronounced as you might think. The West has absolutely demolished the East in shootouts with a 5-1 mark. A big reason is goalies in the East have been porous in shootouts. So far, they’ve allowed 11 goals on 17 shots against the West, while shooters from the East have managed just five goals on a total of 19 shots.
So, in reality, there’s not a lot to choose from between the East and West when shootouts are not factored into the equation. And losing to the other conference in a shootout or overtime isn’t considered a big deal because the team losing isn’t surrendering a precious point to a conference rival with whom it’s battling for a playoff spot.
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