Category Archives: KHL
It was a move that very few, if anyone, saw coming; ten days ago Metallurg Magnitogorsk released Canadian forward Wojtek Wolski from his contract, making him a free agent. Wolski, a fan favourite in Magnitogorsk, was at that time the team’s second-leading point-scorer, with a line of 6-9-15 in 18 games, so his release came as a major shock. What happened? Well, the answer arrived later that same day, when Metallurg signed Czech forward Michal Bulíř from Bílí Tygři Liberec of the Czech Extraliga. Wolski’s Metallurg tenure had, it became clear, fallen victim to the KHL’s rules on foreign players — or “legionnaires” (легионеры) as they are often referred to in Russian. But what are those rules, exactly, and how did they come to cost Wolski his job? Read on, for an explanation!
The 2018-19 KHL season is through its first quarter, and as the teams head into the back stretch and towards the impending November break, it’s time to take a bit of a look at how that first quarter-and-a-bit have gone. Read on, for splits, and some chit-chat!
It happens every season: we get ready the Kaprisovs, Gusevs, Sorokins, et al. to their thing (and they do, and are doing their things in 2018-19). But the early days of the season also tends to toss up a few unlikely heroes — guys with short, or long but generally un-noted, playing resumes who suddenly are making all sorts of good headlines. And while, not to mention because, they tend to fade away over the course of the long season (that is why they are not counted among the Kaprizovs, Gusevs, Sorokins, et al.), I think it worthwhile to give at least a few of them a tip of the hat while we can. So read on, as we do just that with six unlikely stars of the early going in the KHL of 2018-19!
Sometimes, I get it entirely wrong. “Definitely a team to keep an eye on,” I wrote in my 2018-19 preview of Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast, after suggesting that Sibir might even be a possible division winner. Well, that looks a ludicrously sunny prognostication indeed right now. The team from central Siberia — 0-6, with no points, and having been outscored 25-9 — will go down in the books as the first KHL team of this season to change coaches. Gone is Vladimir Yurzinov, Jr. (“I think Yurzinov is exactly the right guy to look after this roster as it heads into the next stage of the rebuilding process,” said I, blithely), and his replacement will be ex-Admiral head coach Alexander Andriyevsky. Read on, for what went awry, and what happens now.
Eras have ended at SKA St. Petersburg, after a 2017-18 campaign in which they lost just five times in regulation during the regular season but were unceremoniously dumped from the playoffs at the semifinal stage by CSKA Moscow. Gone is coach Oleg Znarok, replaced both for club and country by Ilya Vorobyov. Gone is Ilya Kovalchuk, who last season became the first player not named Radulov or Mozyakin to win the KHL scoring title. And gone are a number of other well-known names from this immensely powerful team, as the KHL heads towards the imposition of a hard salary cap. But this is still SKA St. Petersburg, and there are some big names among the incoming players as well… read on. Read the rest of this entry
CSKA Moscow, the Central Red Army team of years gone by, were, as usual, very very good in 2017-18. CSKA and SKA St. Petersburg were in a class by themselves during the regular season, and it was the former that earned the last laugh when the two titans met in the West Conference Final. But, once again, CSKA’s season ended in disappointment, as what looked a prime opportunity to finally pick up a first Gagarin Cup was spurned via a five-game loss to Ak Bars Kazan in the Final. Can CSKA finally get things right in the end in 2018-19? Read on.
Ak Bars Kazan, the team from the capital Tatarstan, became the KHL’s first three-time Gagarin Cup champions last season, and it was generally considered something of an upset; most people, myself included, expected the trophy to go to CSKA Moscow or SKA St. Petersburg. But we must take our hats off to Ak Bars, who were 2017-18 champions entirely on merit. They won the East Conference despite a slew of injuries throughout the season, and lost just three games in the four playoff rounds. And they may just be primed for an encore — in an early-season crisis in goal can be overcome. Read on…
Lokomotiv’s 2017-18 campaign was very much, in its final result, what we have come to expect from the well-run, reliable, Yaroslavl team. A top-four place in the conference, a playoff round won — nothing wrong with that at all for a club that, while it (usually) falls short of giants like SKA and CSKA, can nonetheless claim an annual spot among the West’s better teams. But change is in the wind, and youth will most definitely be served on the Lokomotiv team that takes the ice in 2018-19. Read on…
It was an amazing story that Traktor wrote in 2017-18; they were the KHL’s best team down the stretch, nearly unbeatable for a time, and finished up in the Conference Final. And along the post-season way they introduced us to one of the most exciting young talents in Russian hockey today. But the coach (Anvar Gatiyatulin) and the goalie (Pavel Francouz) most responsible for last season’s successes are gone now — so what does 2018-19 hold in store? Read on…
By this time tomorrow, the first game of the 2018-19 Kontinental Hockey League season will be in the books: 2017-18 regular-season champions SKA St. Petersburg travel to the capital of Tatarstan to take on Gagarin Cup holders Ak Bars Kazan at 5:00 pm local time on Saturday. And with that, the 11th season of the KHL will be underway. Read on, for a few brief thoughts.