The names of team's legends hang in the rafters at Dynamo's arena in Moscow .
I know nothing is certain in life. The same is true of pro sports. I learned this early when my hometown NFL team — the one I grew up loving and cheering for and singing along to the cheesy “Luv Ya Blue!” song and dressing like a Derrick Doll for Halloween (don’t ask!) moved to Nashville, Tennessee. (RIP Houston Oilers.)
I know Hartford Whalers’ fans felt the same way. The Montreal Expos’ fans. Los Angeles Rams’ fans. Even fans of teams that haven’t even moved yet, but are in jeopardy probably feel this sadness and trepidation. I won’t even mention the Winnipeg Jets fans, who seem to think they are entitled to have the Thrashers or the Coyotes because they allegedly have better fans — that’s an argument for another day. (But suffice it to say, it takes more than a few years to grow a fan base. And these locales have the corporate support that other cities probably don’t and won’t. I know, I know, bring on the hate.)
Maxim Afinogenov in Dynamo colors.
But I must say it is with some shock and surprise to hear HC Moscow Dynamo, former team of such stars as Alex Ovechkin, Maxim Afinogenov, Alexei Yashin, and Alexei Kovalev, is ceasing to exist. Reports indicate the venerable Russian team, founded in 1946, will be merging with another in the Kontinental Hockey League — HC MVD.
The embattled Jiri Hudler (still property of the Detroit Red Wings) has apparently already been released from the second year of his contract and could return to the National Hockey League next year.
When we were in Moscow in January, Goddess Sasha and I took in a meeting of Dynamo Moscow and Atlant Moscow Oblast (itself a remade team from the remnants of Khimik Voskresensk — the former club of my favorite player, Slava Kozlov). Looking back now, we were lucky to see the game at Dynamo’s home area — an old, somewhat decrepit looking building with lots of charm. I can still hear the “DYNAMO! DYNAMO!” chants in my head. The crowds and arenas, compared with most NHL teams are small, but boy are they loud. They put NHL fans to shame. Such passion. NHL cheers may as well be golf claps by comparison.
Russian fans cheer: “Dynamo! Dynamo!”
Dynamo’s implosion (or going away — whatever you chose), hits me where it hurts. Being a fan of a team on the brink, so to speak, it frightens me. If it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone. Particularly a team like the Atlanta Thrashers whose fanbase has been alienated and led on for years now. Atlanta could be — nay, should be — a fantastic hockey city. The people are there, the owners are out to lunch or just don’t give a damn. Oh! That’s right they have spent years in litigation fighting over a team they seem to care nothing about, just having pissing contests while they piss the team away.
Two of the many they let get away.
Heatley had to leave. I understand he had to run away (no judgement meant or implied, though he’s still running). But squandering years of Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Marc Savard, Kozlov (obviously!), even a brief twirl with the great Peter Bondra. It makes me sick the talent that has slipped through our (yes our) fingers.
I don’t want the Thrashers to be the next Dynamo. Or Montreal Expos. Los Angeles Rams. Or Houston Oilers. Or even the Minnesota North Stars. I’m just not sure what we, the little guys — particularly the die-hard fans — can do to stop it.
Photos/video: Moscow Dynamo stadium and Ilya Kovalchuk/Marian Hossa photo, and Dynamo stadium video: Copyright 2006-2010. Goddess Kaat. Maxim Afinogenov photo: Wikipedia commons, 2009.