Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 5)

Mike Keenan out as coach/GM of KHL’s Kunlun Red Star

By Sean Leahy – NBC Sports

Days after losing his role as general manager, Mike Keenan has now been relieved of his coaching responsibilities by Kunlun Red Star of the KHL. Following nine straight defeats, which places them near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 68-year-old will remain as an executive member on the team’s International Advisory Board.

Former NHLer Bobby Carpenter will take reins behind the bench on an interim basis with fellow ex-players Cliff Ronning and Igor Kravchuk staying on as assistants.

“Mike Keenan has done a great job for several months,” said Kunlun president Raitis Pilsetnieks via SovSport (translated). “He formed a completely new KHL team, and also took an active part in building the entire club structure, which is part of a large-scale project for the development of Chinese hockey in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in 2022.

“Since March, he worked almost without days off, and we were often amazed at his amazing endurance and efficiency. But, unfortunately, everything has a limit, and the work, coupled with a huge number of flights, is beyond his strength. Therefore, it was decided to return to the original form of cooperation. I have no doubt that as a member of the International Coordination Council Mike Keenan will bring a lot of benefits to the club and the Chinese hockey in general.”

Kunlun responded well to the news by snapping their nine-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime win against Amur on Sunday.

Keenan, who was the first coach to win championships in the KHL and NHL, joined Kunlun in March 17 months after he was canned by Metallurg Magnitogorsk, with whom he led to a Gagarin Cup title in 2014.

So will we hear Keenan’s pop up whenever the first NHL head coach gets fired this season? He’s been out of the NHL game since 2009, but that never stopped general managers from bringing in a retread. Hey, how about a Philadelphia reunion? OK, that’s probably a pipe dream. But given Keenan’s recent coaching history, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him resurface behind a bench elsewhere in Europe.

Meet the American Jewish coach behind Israel’s only Arab ice hockey team

American Jewish coach Marc Milzman

By Larry Luxner – STL Jewish Light

On a recent Friday evening, as prayers from nearby mosques blared over loudspeakers and the sun dipped below a horizon dotted with ancient churches, the lights flickered on at a municipal hockey rink in a working-class neighborhood of this city.

Within minutes, 50 boys and girls on Roller blades and in colorful uniforms — nearly all of them Arabs — descended on the rink to spend the next two hours practicing a sport more associated with frigid Montreal or Moscow than the arid Middle East.

These are the Nazareth Tigers — the only Arab ice hockey franchise in Israel. Hockey was brought to the country in the 1980s by Russian and Canadian Jewish immigrants, and today there are about 15 professional and amateur hockey teams organized under the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel.

“In a million years, I never thought I’d be doing hockey here,” said one of the Tigers’ lead coaches, Marc Milzman, 59, who sold all his hockey equipment before immigrating to Karmiel three years ago from Roanoke, Virginia. “But I love these kids. They love the sport. They get it, they understand it and they love the fact that they’re moving fast on Roller blades.”

Twice a week, Milzman drives to Nazareth, Israel’s largest predominantly Arab city with about 90,000 residents, so he can coach his budding hockey players. He also takes them once a month to Metula, Israel’s northernmost town on the Lebanese border, where the kids can play on ice instead of using in-line skates to simulate the game.

Milzman’s hockey coaching partner is Ramez Lahham, 42, a software engineer and Nazareth native whose son, Neal, got him into the game. Lahham educated himself about coaching hockey by watching YouTube training videos and making friends at the Canadian-Israeli Hockey School in Metula.

Over the course of five years, the Nazareth Tigers have grown from 15 children to about 55, including 16 girls, ranging in age from 7 to 16. The program costs about $30 per month and involves two to four hours per week of training.

“We accept all kinds of kids — Christian, Muslim and Jewish. We’re all part of the hockey family,” Lahham said. “We get connected through sports. We play together; this is our motto. Here it’s not about politics, it’s about people trying to find a way to live together.”

Milzman shares that philosophy. It’s one reason he was drawn to the Nazareth Tigers in the first place.

“The kids respect each other. When our team plays in Metula, we get nothing but love from the other teams,” he said between practice sets. “We never discuss politics. I don’t even know what their politics are.”

Milzman, a die-hard fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in suburban Maryland. He also lived in New York, Los Angeles and Virginia, but acquired his love for hockey during 14 years living on and off in Vancouver, Canada.

A former health care executive, Milzman was inspired to make aliyah, or immigrate to Israel, by his great-grandfather, who was sent by Baron Edmond de Rothschild to teach Hebrew to immigrants in the Galilee town of Zichron Yaakov.

“My grandmother and an uncle were born there, so I always felt a connection,” Milzman said.

He and his wife, Carolyn, made two pilot trips to Israel and then moved for good on July 7, 2014 — the first day of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war in Gaza. They settled in the Galilee town of Karmiel as part of the “Go North” program run by Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael.

“Nefesh B’Nefesh provided a first-rate website, webinars, checklists, aliyah fairs and great post-aliyah support,” he said. “They also hooked us up with local volunteers who helped make this huge move much easier and less stressful than it might have been.”

In addition to coaching the Tigers, Milzman teaches hockey to children in the Arab Galilee village of Ras al-Ein and works 20 hours a week for SportSkills coaching baseball at schools and community centers throughout the Galilee.

Majd Zaher, the Tigers’ goalie, has been playing hockey for six years. A husky 14-year-old who plans to study physics and chemistry in college, he said his mother saw a Facebook post about the squad and encouraged him to sign up.

“I came and watched the training, and I liked it,” he said. “It’s a fun game, and it has sportsmanship. We don’t have a lot of this in Israel.”

Hockey also allows the Tigers to travel. Besides playing other Israeli teams in Nes Ziona, Rishon LeZion and Metula, a few lucky teammates recently went on an extended tour to Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg in Canada, as well as Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

“We are very specific in choosing kids with potential,” Lahham said. “If you want to be on the team, you need a lot of discipline. You should obey your coaches. We try to open their minds and let them see new places, new things, new adventures in life.”

Nazareth’s municipal government spends about $5,700 annually to maintain the hockey program. Substantial help also comes from Toronto philanthropist Sidney Greenberg, who bankrolls ice time at Metula’s Canada Center, and from Ahmad Afifi, a Nazareth bus company owner who transports the team to Metula for free once a month. The Nazareth rink was financed by Detroit philanthropists Irwin and Bethea Green.

Hockey is an expensive sport, especially in Israel. Basic gear — including helmet, hockey stick, gloves, in-line skates, and knee, chin and elbow pads — easily can run about $850, according to Raji Srouji, director of sports for the City of Nazareth. But Srouji, a former professional basketball player and coach, says hockey is a wise long-term investment for his city.

“Nobody says ‘no’ to this kind of project,” Srouji said. “Even though I have Palestinian roots and will always be like that, my sons and grandsons are citizens of Israel. I believe in living together. This is not even about coexistence. We need each other.”

Just ask Denis Superfin, the 15-year-old son of Russian immigrants who lives in nearby Nazareth Illit, which is 80 percent Jewish.

“I left my last team because there was no one my age,” he said. “I was 12 and they were little kids, so I played with adults. I can’t live without hockey, so I came here.”

Denis doesn’t understand Arabic, but that’s OK because Milzman coaches him in English and Lahham in Hebrew.

Asked if he cares that he’s the only Jew on the team, Denis says, “No, it’s not important. We just play.”

SKA St. Petersburg It’s a record!

Sergei Shirokov: "It's difficult to set records"

By KHL. ru

SKA set a new KHL record for consecutive victories, picking up its 19th win in a row since the start of the season to move past Avangard’s mark. But Sibir made it tough for the Army Men, threatening to crash the party with a resilient display and a third-period fightback.

SKA’s success this season has been built on rollicking offense; this week alone the team blasted 12 goals in road games at Lokomotiv and Salavat Yulaev. Nikita Gusev and Ilya Kovalchuk were in red hot form, and the crowd settled down to await the latest firework display. And waited. And waited. The first intermission arrived, and the game was goalless. And, by recent standards, bereft of goal action. SKA was limited to nine shots at Alexei Krasikov and when the goalie was beaten, a video review reprieved him.

After the break, finally, SKA found its scoring form. The third power play of the night ended with Gusev setting up Sergei Plotnikov to break the deadlock. Two minutes later, Dinar Khafizullin made it 2-0. This was more like it, but the home team’s progress was disrupted by penalty trouble and Sibir was still in the game – just – after 40 minutes.

Jonas Enlund pulled a goal back in the 49th minute, and suddenly a routine engagement was starting to look problematic. The winner came from an unlikely source: Evgeny Ketov is a player often overlooked on SKA’s stella offense, but he came up with the all-important goal when he surprised Krasikov with an early shot from the top of the circle. Sibir tried to battle back, and Simon Onerud got his first goal for the club after moving from Sochi, but SKA closed out the game and established that record.

Alisauskas moving up

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By Henrik Manninen – IIHF.com

Following in the footsteps of his hometown hero, the KHL becomes the next step in the ascending career of Lithuanian blueliner Nerijus Alisauskas.

When Latvian KHL club Dinamo Riga got the new 2017/18 KHL season underway, it also coincided with the league’s sole Lithuanian representative making his debut at the big stage.

Following a successful off-season try-out, 26-year-old Alisauskas became a surprise late addition to the Dinamo Riga roster. A move which saw him become only the second Lithuanian to grace the KHL after Darius Kasparaitis, who played 26 regular season games for SKA St. Petersburg in 2008/09.

”I am happy to get the chance to play in the KHL and for me it doesn’t matter whether I am first or second. Kasparaitis was also my hero when growing up and I always wanted to achieve the same goals as him,” said Alisauskas, who got his first KHL point on board in his third game of the season with an assist in a 5-3 road win at Barys Astana, Dinamo Riga’s first victory of the season.

When Alisauskas picked up the game at the age of eight back home in the Central Lithuanian small town of Elektrenai, another one of its natives, Kasparaitis had long since left the nest and was at the peak of his powers across the Atlantic suiting up for Pittsburgh Penguins. Dainius Zubrus, the other Lithuanian with an NHL career, also hails from the town.

But while Kasparaitis and Zubrus had honed their skills during the Soviet Union times, Alisauskas was born in another era in the summer of 1991. Brought up in a once again independent Lithuania he was to have a more meandering road towards to the top.

After getting his baptism of fire at senior level in the Belarusian league with Latvian team Liepajas Metalurgs, Alisauskas found himself patrolling the blueline in Germany’s third tier for EV Fussen in 2013/14. Three years of solid displays in Kazakhstan’s top league ensued, before ahead of this season, Dinamo Riga’s head coach Sandis Ozolins came calling to offer Alisauskas an opportunity to shine at the next level.

A fine skater and equipped with a lethal one-timer, Alisauskas possesses qualities he hopes can be fully utilized in his new surroundings as Dinamo Riga aims to avenge for last year’s lacklustre overall display which saw them finish bottom of the pile in the Western Conference.

“I hope we will make the play-offs this season and on a personal level I hope I can grow as a player with as much ice time as possible,” said Alisauskas on a hectic season ahead where a lot will be at stake for both club and country.

In average he got 18:30 of ice time during seven KHL games. Only Canadian Karl Stollery and Latvian Guntis Galvins were on the ice more often among Dinamo Riga defencemen.

With Lithuania hosting the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Kaunas at the end of April next year, big things are in the pipeline for the southern-most Baltic country. Following four consecutive bronze medals at Division IB level under the guidance of head coach Bernd Haake, home advantage is hoped to give the team an extra edge as they aim to propel upwards.

“People are getting more interested in hockey so I am happy about it. As for our team, I believe Lithuania is already ready for the Division IA and this season will be the perfect time to get there,” said Alisauskas.

Alisauskas, who made his senior debut as an 18-year-old at the 2010 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I level, was among many key omissions from last season’s bronze-winning team at the Division IB in Belfast. While the Lithuanian federation hopes to entice big hitters such as Alisauskas, NHL veteran Dainius Zubrus, netminder Mantas Armalis and the Kumeliauskas brothers, Donatas and Tadas, to commit themselves for a gold medal push in Kaunas, perhaps the biggest name of them all is ready to once again step out in the limelight at the age of 45.

Kasparaitis aims at making his national team debut for Lithuania during the Baltic Challenge Cup played on home ice in Klaipeda this November while also offering a chance for Alisauskas to finally line up next to his role model.

“I’ve only practised together with him in the past, so now I can’t wait to play together with him,” said Alisauskas.

KHL 101: A basic guide to the largest league in the world

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By

Stretching from Europe to Asia and employing some of the top players in the world, the KHL is a league you should know a little about.

You can’t be an NHL fan anymore without knowing that the KHL exists. But you sure can get by knowing nothing much about it. Rumours, myths and stereotypes persist, and many fans, even fans of teams like the Leafs with multiple former KHL players, are not sure what the league is all about.

It’s in Russia, right? And the names on the jerseys are all in Cyrillic, and no one speaks English or ever gets paid. In Soviet Russia joke makes you. Right? Well, no.

Let’s tackle those persistent myths first.

The KHL, short for Kontinental Hockey League, is mostly Russian, but it has teams in seven countries and offers up its website in Russian, English and Chinese.

Because there are teams all over the non-Russian speaking parts of Europe and now in China, and because the games are televised widely, the names on the jerseys have always been in Latin script. They generally use a different transliteration for the Russian names to what the NHL uses. That doesn’t make one “right” and one “wrong”, but it does lead to confusion because the English-language twitter account and website don’t always use the same forms.

Nikita Zaitsev was Zaytsev on his jersey, but not on the website. Vadim Shipachyov is about to become Vadim Shipachev.

The rumours of money problems in the KHL are partly true, and partly exaggerated. There is a plan in place now to deal with the issue, and it’s complicated, but likely will succeed in stabilizing a league that expanded rapidly and then faced a catastrophic drop in the value of the ruble that plunged even some very well run teams into chaos.

The KHL is not about to collapse as many Canadian and American media like to report every summer as the league deals with delinquent teams. The fans gleefully imagining strip mining the league and “getting all those good players” while ignoring the rest as irrelevant aren’t going to get their wish.

The Soviet days are long past, and while many remnants of the old Soviet league that formed the genesis of the KHL linger on, mostly in team names, the league is a collection of individual businesses, just like the NHL. Some teams are very, very wealthy, and some are not, just like the NHL.

Now for some details.

Structure

The league stretches over a huge portion of the Earth, and travel times are onerous in some cities.

Scroll down to the interactive KHL Geography map and see the spread of teams from Slovan in Brataslava, Slovakia in the west to, not Kunlun Red Star in Beijing, like you might have expected, but Amur in Khabarovsk, Russia. That’s the scope of the league.

West Conference

CSKA (Moscow, Russia)
Dinamo Minsk (Belarus)
Dinamo Riga (Latvia)
HC Dynamo Moscow (Russia)
HC Sochi (Russia)
Jokerit (Helsinki, Finland)
Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl, Russia)
SKA (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Severstal (Cherepovets, Russia)
Slovan (Brataslava, Slovakia)
Spartak (Moscow, Russia)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod, Russia)
Vityaz (Moscow Region, Russia)

East Conference

Admiral (Vladivostok, Russia)
Ak Bars (Kazan, Russia)
Amur (Khabarovsk, Russia)
Avangard (Omsk Region, Russia)
Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg, Russia)
Barys (Astana, Kazakhstan)
Kunlun Red Star (Beijing, China)
Lada (Togliatti, Russia)
Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia)
Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk, Russia)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa, Russia)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region, Russia)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk, Russia)
Ugra (Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia)

That’s a lot of teams. It’s too many, and eventually the league realized they had grown to large. They cut a few this summer, teams that were underperforming in attendance or losing too much money. The plan for the future is to cut two or three teams per summer for the next few years. This is supposed to be decided primarily on attendance, but other factors such as financing will be taken into account.

At the same time new teams will be added. The expectation is that these teams will be in China or Europe.

Along with this contraction and expansion to better markets, a salary cap mechanism with some teeth in it will be brought in, with the goal to distribute the pay to the players in a better way. This post has a great deal of detail on the situation and expands on how the payment system will be altered, and how contraction will occur. Ultimately, the goal is to stabilize at 24 teams that are successful.

Demographics

The KHL tries to have teams in countries outside Russia keep their national character. Jokerit’s players are mostly Finns, Dinamo Riga is mostly Latvian, etc. This is less easy with Kunlun Red Star, and the makeup of that team is a work in progress.

But the absorption of European teams from existing leagues, like Jokerit, and the overall pace of expansion has led to large numbers of foreign players on the Russian-based teams. Once a rarity, Canadians and Americans are becoming more prominent in the league.

Elite Prospects lists 15 countries of origin for players signed to the KHL for the coming season. Most, 632, are Russian, but there are 47 Canadians, 27 Czechs, 24 Swedes and 16 Americans. From countries with teams in the league, there are 42 Finns, 32 Belarusians, 34 Kazakhs and 30 Latvians.

For a lot of teams, English is widely spoken as a second language, and the more that is true, the more players from countries like Canada and Sweden will go to the KHL to play. Mike Keenan might be the most famous non-Russian coach in the KHL to NHL fans, but he’s not the only one. For a full rundown on who is behind the bench on KHL teams, Patrick Conway has a list of them at his blog sorted by division.

You say Dinamo. I say Dynamo. (Actually, it’s  Динамо.) Are we calling this whole thing off or not?

What’s with all the Dynamo teams anyway?

Wikipedia says that in 1923, the Soviet Union formed the Dynamo Sports Club societies to form part of the physical education system of the nation. The idea was exported to many Soviet client states in Eastern Europe and the name has remained on many surviving clubs all over Europe.

The KHL has three: Riga, Minsk and Moscow, and while the clubs aren’t related now, or state owned, they share a ideological past.

The other main sponsor of sports clubs and teams in the Soviet Union was the army, made famous by the Red Army team in the seventies. That team is now CSKA. SKA is also a military team.

In industrial areas, clubs were often sponsored by the local state-run industry. So you get Traktor, Avtobomilist, Lada, Metallurg and Lokomotiv all named after the local product or industry.

The KHL has also ended up with two teams named for the snow leopard. Both Ak Bars Kazan and Barys Astana take their names from the local word for that central Asian animal.

Season

The KHL season begins in the summer. Pre-season games begin in July, with regular season action starting in August. The playoffs are in the spring, with the Gagarin Cup handed out a couple of weeks before the IIHF World Championships in May.

The KHL is taking an Olympic break from late January through most of February this year, making that league an attractive destination this year for players hoping to be named to their national teams. They have cut the schedule to 56 games to help make that happen.

The playoffs begin a few days after the return from the break.

Playoffs

The playoff format is very familiar to NHL fans. The top eight teams in each conference playoff until a champion remains, and then they play for the cup.

It’s a very attractive cup.

Farm teams

The VHL is the farm team league, and is somewhat analogous to the AHL. The KHL is made up of teams, many of which are older than the league itself, that are part of a European-style sports club system. The club may have a soccer team, a hockey team, a bandy team and any number of other divisions, including women’s teams, junior teams and a VHL team.

The VHL is run by the Russian Hockey Federation, not the KHL. As the KHL has contracted, and will continue to do so, the VHL is absorbing some of those teams, while its own unprofitable teams are either dropped down a division or dissolved.

The dissolution this year of Dynamo Moscow’s VHL club, after winning the championship last year, was due to internal money problems at that club after a change of ownership. Eventually, the KHL team restructured to the point they can continue.

The MHL

The MHL is the junior or U20 league, and most of the teams in the league are feeder teams for the KHL system. Unlike in North America, the junior system in Europe keeps a young player within a club from a young age to the top team, if she’s lucky. Many top players move up at around 16 to better teams. Yegor Korshkov moved from Kazakhstan, where his father played, to Yaroslavl, and has played in the Lokomotiv system ever since.

Style of Play and League Strength

Everyone asks this: What’s the playing style like and how is it different to the NHL. This along with where does the league fit with other leagues is a very hard question to answer, and is controversial. Some North American fans sneer in angry disdain at the idea that the KHL is better than the AHL.

First, imagine answering this question the other way around. How good is the NHL? What do they play like? Are you going to answer based on the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Colorado Avalanche, the New Jersey Devils or the Chicago Blackhawks? Is the NHL fast or slow, offensive or defensive, good or bad?

It is undisputed by anyone but the biggest homer fan of another league that the KHL is the best league in Europe. But the worst teams in the KHL might well be nowhere near able to compete in the Swiss league. The best teams, the very few elite top playoff teams that have money and top players are, in my opinion, far and away better than any AHL team.

The KHL is, in general, a faster, more shooting and passing based game than you see in North America. For players coming over to the NHL, some things are very different, and I’ll quote myself from last summer’s Top 25 Under 25 comments on Nikita Zaitsev.

Now, my main concern about him: that easy glide up the neutral zone with the puck. He’s a good skater, handles the puck well, but he’s always done this on wide ice, with opposing teams who tend to fall back more and concede the zone if not the o-zone entry itself. That is not how NHL teams play. Well, the Stars do, but imagine hitting the New Jersey Devils neutral zone meat grinder when you think you’re just out for a skate? Or the Kings or the Red Wings or it just goes on and on.

When CSKA failed against Magnitka, it was because Magnitka pressured early in the neutral zone and stripped the puck off of them. This is systems stuff, and I am not saying that he cannot play how Babcock wants him to. I’m saying I don’t know because CSKA never did.

With very few exceptions, the neutral zone is easier to get through in the KHL than it is in the NHL. This is also an issue with offensively-high-flying AHL teams when they hit one of the elite level teams that defend well. So it’s partly a question of skills gap in a league that’s too large, and also a style of play that evolved on bigger ice.

One other thing I have noted over the years is that players with NHL experience shoot more. Whether this is a style difference or a skills-gap is, again, hard to say, but it looks like the general KHL style is to pass the puck until a higher-percentage play opens up.

Smaller players can have huge success in the KHL, particularly small defencemen who aren’t quite good enough for the NHL. The idea that there is no physical play in the KHL is wrong, however, board battles and corner work are much less important than in North American hockey.

Older players also succeed in the KHL. Last season a clutch of 35 year olds were leading the league in most categories outside of goaltending. The length of the season and the number of breaks and days off might explain that. 60 games with several week-long breaks is a lot easier than an NHL grind.

If you want a look at the KHL without navigating their site to pay for the games, although they are inexpensive, watch the Olympics this year. You’ll see KHL players on every top team, and you might be very surprised at how much fun they are to watch. Just, you know, be prepared for Russia to win it all.

Russian Ice Hockey Federation to wage ruthless war on doping abuse

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By Tass.com

The Russian Hockey Federation (RHF) will provide all conditions to make the sport of ice hockey healthy and clean of doping, RHF President Vladislav Tretiak said on Wednesday.

Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) announced on Tuesday that the doping sample of three-time World Champion Danis Zaripov tested positive for prohibited performance enhancing substances. He was suspended by the IIHF for the period of two years, until May 22, 2019.

“Doping abuse in ice hockey is a very rare case,” Tretiak said on air of Rossiya-24 television channel. “The key task for the RHF is to offer all necessary conditions to make the sport of ice hockey clean and healthy.”

“Today thousands of boys come playing ice hockey and we will do everything possible to safeguard them from doping,” Tretiak, who is also the legendary Soviet goaltender indicted in the NHL Hall of Fame, said. “We will have no mercy fighting against this evil.”

 “All cases of investigations and the following decisions to impose sanctions, including the case of Danis Zaripov, are strictly in the competence of the IIHF Disciplinary Committee in line with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code,” Tretiak said.

“Neither the RHF nor KHL could in any way influence this process,” Tretiak, who is also the legendary Soviet goaltender indicted in the NHL Hall of Fame, added.

Russia’s 36-year-old forward Zaripov signed earlier this month a deal on his transfer from KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk club to Ak Bars, where, according to the contract, Zaripov intended to play for the next two seasons.

Olympic Games

 A decision made by the US-based National Hockey League to pull out of the 2018 Winter Olympics will not be a problem for the Russian national team at the Games, he went on.

The NHL announced in early April that it had decided against altering its schedule for the 2017-2018 season, meaning that international players bound by contracts with NHL clubs would not be able to leave next year to join their national teams to play at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which are scheduled to take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang next year on February 9-25. Many Russian ice hockey stars are currently playing in various NHL clubs.

“NHL is a commercial enterprise, which is not a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and which has no separate agreements on cooperation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC),” Tretiak said in an interview with Rossiya-24 television channel. “A decision whether NHL players would participate or would not is made by the league alone.”

“Obviously the players wish to play at the Olympics and the NHL Players’ Association supports them,” Tretiak said. “However, after long and complicated negotiations the league made a decision and repeatedly voiced it since then that it would not be participating in the 2018 Olympic Games.”

“Undoubtedly the RHF, just like many other national federations with a big representation in NHL, was interested that all of the best players would go to the Olympics no matter what league they are playing for,” Tretiak, who is also the legendary Soviet goaltender indicted in the NHL Hall of Fame, said.

“However, the decision was made and we cannot influence this process,” according to the RHF chief. “At the same time, this decision will not be a problem for the Russian national team.”

“The team will be made up of players from the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and we will do everything possible to provide for their successful performance in South Korea,” Tretiak added.

The National Hockey League Players’ Association lashed out at NHL’s April decision calling it shortsighted. The association criticized the NHL’s authorities for not only prohibiting its players for playing on the international arena, but for building obstacles for the game of ice hockey on the whole.

Two UBC hockey players get signed by KHL’s Kunlun Red Star

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By Mike Raptis – The province

Two UBC Thunderbirds mens hockey players are off to Beijing to play for the KHL’s HC Kunlun Red Star organization.

Luke Lockhart and Derek Dun, both of Chinese descent but born in Canada, were signed on Thursday after impressing the Red Star’s executives in a scouting camp at 8-Rinks Burnaby in early June.

Lockhart, from Burnaby, was a top-six forward for the Thunderbirds this season. He played junior hockey with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. Dun, a Surrey native, was the T-Birds’ starting goalie. He had had played the previous two seasons for Northern Michigan in the NCAA.

Former Vancouver Canucks head coach and Stanley Cup Champion ‘Iron’ Mike Keenan will be their next head coach.

EVEL KNIEVEL and the BUTTE BOMBERS.

By Hockey Old Time Logos

ROBERT CRAIG KNIEVEL. was born in 1938 in Butte, Montana. Him and his brother Nic were raised by their grandparents (fathers side) Emma and Ignatius who were second generation German-Americans.
Their parents divorced and left Montana straight after Nic was born.
Robert left school at 16 to work for Anaconda mining company, operating a diamond drill deep in the copper mines. Copper being the major industry in the Rocky mountain town of Butte. He was soon promoted to driving the huge earth moving vehicle but was soon fired when he did a `wheelie` with his monster truck after it had crashed into a main power line supplying electricity to the mining town, it knocked the electricity out of Butte for several hours.

WHAT`S IN A NAME?.
Robert was a bit of a rebel, and after a police chase that he led on a motorcycle resulted in a crash and landed him in jail. He was in a cell next to a man known as `Awful Knofel` immediately Knievel got his nickname `Evil Knievel` from his name rhyming night jailer.
After a few years he did not want to be known as `Evil` so he changed it to `Evel` a name that stuck for the rest of his life.

HOCKEY CAREER.
Robert played for the Charlotte Checkers a minor-pro team in the Eastern Hockey League before he decided to start up his own team the `Butte Bombers` in 1959 and even convinced the Czech Olympic team to play a warm up game prior to the 1960 Olympics.
As a player he was a real show-off and had to be the life of the party all of the time, former players rated him 7 out of 10 but would not trust him as far as they could throw him. Tubie Johnson another colleague said he was a good athlete but was always getting into scrapes and was the biggest bullshitter in the world.
In September 1958 at nineteen years old Knievel became the most important figure in Butte hockey. He started his own semi-pro team the `Butte Bombers`. He was owner, coach and of course starting centre, quite a remarkable string of titles for a 19 year old.

Evel Knievel Star Center

Start-up money came from his father and grandfather Ignatius and a car dealership. The local sports goods dealer Phil Judd provided Knievel with uniforms and equipment on credit, something he would probably regret later. Knievel offered players $50 per game, he put together an ambitious schedule which included semi-pro teams from the US and Canada, a few minor league juggernauts and some big name colleges from Minnesota and Michigan. Knievel was not a bad player but if he had passed the puck a bit more and not shot every time he got it, his play but have been a whole lot better. He always set himself up to be the star, putting himself on the ice for power plays, penalty killing and all the big moments as centre for the 1st line. Little self placed stories appeared in the local newspaper mentioning interest of him by other minor league teams but they all ended with how happy he was playing with the Bombers.
Knievel was hard to pin down especially when money was involved, the players soon found out that that $50 per game was a mirage but they kept playing as it was the only team around. Without the help of Phil Judd for giving Knievel credit for sticks and equipment they would of faded into oblivion but they managed to scrape by. In 1960 Robert Knievel secured the biggest coup of all when he persuaded the Czech Olympic hockey team to play an exhibition game prior to the upcoming Olympics. The game was played at the Butte Civic Arena on Feb 7th 1960, two thousand fans packed the Civic Center. The game itself was a GOAL FEST the Czechs pulverized the Bombers 22-3, the game was a rout of routs, the Butte goalie saved 69 shots. Tubie Johnson said the Czechs were just messing with us they were being kind it could have been 105-0 if they wanted.

1960 Czechoslovakia National Team

Knievel came out during periods and pleaded for financial help from a microphone as assorted buckets were passed around the arena he mentioned that the Czech delegation was larger than he had expected and their expenses were much larger than he first had imagined.

The money was collected but allegedly none of it ever reached the Czechs or creditors. One thing for sure was that this was the end of the road for the Butte Bombers and Evel Knievels hockey career.
He was 21 years old retired from hockey, off to other interests and other projects.

EVEL KNIEVEL” as we all knew him attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps and even attempting a canyon jump across Snake River Canyon(which failed) in a steam powered rocket called the Skycycle X-2. He still holds the Guinness Record for `Most broken bones in a lifetime` which is 37. He went through 15 major operations and spent nearly 3 years of his life in a hospital bed. Robert Knievel died of pulmonary disease in 2007 aged 69. This blog is just a snippet of his fascinating story.

Jokerit To Host SKA In Open – Air Classic

http://www.eurohockey.com/image/190-190-1-jokeritskaicechallenge2017khl.jpg

By KHL.ru

On the 2nd of December, 2017, Helsinki will host a KHL regular championship match between Jokerit and SKA Saint Petersburg, and the game will be a “Winter Classic” staged in an outdoor arena. The timing of the match coincides with three significant anniversaries: the 10th season of the Kontinental Hockey League, the 50th anniversary of the founding of HC Jokerit, and the centenary year of hockey in Finland.

The idea of holding a first-ever outdoor game in a KHL regular championship came from Jokerit. The Helsinki club proposed marking its 50-year jubilee with a major celebration for all the fans in Finland, and the plan drew enthusiastic support from the KHL.

A KHL match between two of the strongest European clubs will be one of the highlights of the League’s 10th anniversary season. Thanks to the vast territory covered by the KHL, the game in Helsinki will attract the attention of people across many countries and from fans of clubs which play in the competition. For this reason, marking the 100th anniversary of Finnish hockey with a KHL match dedicated to the occasion will be a superb way to raise awareness throughout an entire continent about the strong traditions of these great hockey powers. At the same time, the teams will be playing for valuable points in the regular season, and so the game will be fiercely competitive and even more exciting for the fans of both clubs.

The venue for the match was chosen with great care. It was here, over one hundred years ago, on the frozen waters of an inlet separating Siltasaari and Kaisaniemi, two areas of Helsinki, that amateur hockey players first started playing the exciting new game, which in those years involved fighting for possession of a ball rather than a puck.  Soon the Finns had created a permanent rink in Kaisaniemi Park, and matches in the national championship have been played here to this day.

Three days after the Jokerit – SKA game, the same venue will stage a match from the Finnish League. The two games are united under the banner, “Helsinki Ice Challenge,” and surrounding the playing surface will be special stands built to accommodate around 18,000 spectators. A sell-out crowd for this event would set a new attendance record for the League.

It is hoped the fans will feel the atmosphere of a century ago, a time when a new sport was taking its first steps on Finnish soil. Most of the open-air stadium will be for standing spectators, as that is how the hardy souls watched hockey back in those pioneering days. The Finnish club has announced that tickets for the match will go on sale from the 8th of June, 2017.

This match in the Great Outdoors is just one of many planned events dedicated to marking the 10th anniversary of the Kontinental Hockey League. News of the other surprises and celebrations to delight the fans during this anniversary season will appear in due course on the League’s official website.

Wojtek Wolski back on ice 8 months after breaking neck in KHL game

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Wojtek Wolski is back on the ice less than a year after a headfirst dive into the boards that left him with two broken cervical vertebrae, spinal cord trauma, and a concussion.

The former NHL winger took to Instagram on Tuesday to announce he’s preparing for the new KHL season, capping off a long road to recovery that began back in October. Wolski was playing for the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk at the time of the accident and subsequent diagnosis.

Drafted 21st overall by Colorado in 2004, Wolski has spent the past four seasons in the KHL after finishing his NHL career with a brief stint in Washington in 2013.

He’d registered five goals and five assists in 19 games prior to the injury, after helping Magnitogorsk win the Gagarin Cup as KHL champions in 2016.

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