Slava Kozlov will chase the Gagarin Cup with a new team.
Former NHL star and current KHL player, Slava Kozlov, has changed his club right before the playoffs. His former team — CSKA Moscow — is having a poor season and the move enables him to continue his career on a more successful team. Kozlov has joined Salavat Yulaev — one of the strongest clubs in the KHL. The team’s coach, Slava Bykov, is a former player and a current manager of Russia’s national team.
On Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Slava joins several other former NHLers including Viktor Kozlov, Dmitri Kalinin and Alexander Radulov. According to the official Salavat site, Slava will wear No. 32.
The player himself commented his transfer, saying that his new colleagues were masters and it was pleasant to be with them on one team. Let’s see now how far Salavat will go through the playoffs.
Photo: Vyacheslav Kozlov from Salavat Yulaev’s official website.
KHL All Star Game 2011 took place in Saint-Petersburg. As usual, teams were divided under Jaromir Jagr and Alexei Yashin’s names. The show started with skills competitions, which was quite fun. Here’s the full list of winners according to the KHL official website.
Yashin 4-3 Jagr
TEAM YASHIN 4 TEAM JAGR 3
Fastest skater Team Yashin: Lauris Darzins, Leo Komarov, Maxim Afinogenov – 13.96 sec.
Team Jagr: Lukas Kaspar, Roman Cervenka, Evgeny Kuznetsov 1-0
Longest shot Team Yashin: Denis Grebeshkov, Sandis Ozolins, Jozef Vasicek Team Jagr: Janne Niskala, Konstantin Korneyev, Martin Skoula 1-1
Puck control relay Team Yashin: Sergei Mozyakin, Maxim Sushinsky, Jozef Vasicek, Alexander Guskov, Matthias Weinhandl
Team Jagr: Lukas Kaspar, Patrick Thoresen, Alexei Morozov, Janne Niskala, Alexander Radulov 2-1
Shooting accuracy Team Yashin: Sandis Ozolins, Chris Simon – 5 shots on 4 targets, Alexei Yashin
Team Jagr: Kevin Dallman, Sergei Fedorov, Jaromir Jagr 3-1
Team Yashin: Maxim Solovyev, Alexander Guskov, Karel Rachunek Team Jagr: Konstantin Korneyev, Ilya Nikulin, Denis Kulyash – 177.58 km/h 3-2
Shootout Team Yashin: Sergei Mozyakin, Maxim Sushinsky and Matthias Weinhandl vs. Stefan Liv Team Jagr: Roman Cervenka, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alexander Radulov vs. Dominik Hasek 3-3
Fastest skater team relay Team Yashin: Konstantin Barulin, Denis Grebeshkov, Peter Podhradsky, Leo Komarov, Lauris Darzins, Maxim Afinogenov
Team Jagr: Mikhail Biryukov, Konstantin Korneyev, Kevin Dallman, Petri Kontiola, Lukas Kaspar, Alexei Morozov 4-3
The most awesome moment to my opinion was Evgeny Kuznetsov shootout with Hasek. BTW, Evgeny asks everyone to call him “Kuzya” :)
Members of Team Russia celebrate a goal during the gold-medal game against Canada in the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships.
I just wanted to send out a genuine congratulations to Team Russia for winning the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships. If Team USA couldn’t win it, then Russia was my second pick. As I discussed in my article about the future of Russian hockey, these kids have all the talent in the world and they showed that with the necessary drive to win a championship, the sky is the limit.
For those that didn’t get a chance to see it, Igor Bobkov came in and turned the game around after Russia got down 3-0. He was simply amazing. Vladimir Tarasenko gets the MVP in my eyes for being knocked out cold and barely able to get off the ice, even with the help of two trainers, yet somehow returning for the third period and leading his team to victory. It also should be pointed out that the goddesses’ inaugural interviewee Maxim Kitsyn had an amazing tournament and will be moving to North America to play in the OHL this month. We wish him the best of luck.
Of course, it the story wouldn’t be complete without some hooliganism from the Russian team. Seems they got a bit drunk and unruly in their attempt to return home and were booted from their flight! Kids these days.
Russian hockey stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin organized a charity game “With all the heart” in Moscow’s Sokolniki Arena. All the money will be sent to people who suffered from the recent forest and other fires in Russia. The original idea belonged to Ilya.
Many famous current and former players took part in the Ovie vs Kovy game including: Evgeni Malkin, Nikolai Zherdev, Slava Kozlov, Alexei Kasatonov, Slava Fetisov, Alexander Kharlamov, and Dominik Hasek. Many top Kremlin officials, KHL President Alexander Medvedev and various celebrities were in attendance.
Kovalchuk and Ovechkin invited their first coaches to participate in the game as managers.
After the game Kovalchuk admitted that it had been a pleasure for him to play at Sokolniki — at his home arena (where HC Spartak Moscow plays). He also said he and his family had suffered from the Moscow smog. For those who haven’t heard, the city of Moscow and its surrounding areas were recently blanketed in smoke from fires burning near the city, as the Russian capital endured extraordinarily high summer temperatures.
Ovechkin said that such charity activities should be developed in Russia. He added that he had been in the Moscow smog, too.
Former Atlanta Thrasher Slava Kozlov admitted he hadn’t defined his future career yet. He asked not to link his visit to Russia with contract talks — his purpose there was to visit his parents. Kozlov also said that the New Jersey Devils didn’t call him — only Kovalchuk asked him to join.
Washington Capitals star Alexander Semin got in a very small car accident last week in Krasnoyarsk — reportedly, his car was slightly hit by another. Semin said he even hadn’t realized what had happened. No one was hurt.
Here’s a small video in which a person tries to learn what has happened and is told not to take the video – Semin car accident
More Hockey News — Straight Outta Russia …
Former Thrasher Maxim Afinogenov scored for SKA Saint Petersburg at a summer tournament in Switzerland. As for his return to Russia, Afinogenov said: “I realized – it’s time to go back home.” He promised not to change his style of play and to stay himself. Max also said he’s living in the same hotel as former San Jose Sharks netminder Evgeny Nabokov, noting that they often go out together. And, finally, Max insists he’s forgotten about the NHL already.
One of Russia’s most talented young players, Nikita Filatov, is going back to Columbus. Again. Filatov promised to work hard and to play his brand of hockey.
Little Viktor Tikhonov is going to move his way into Phoenix and the NHL. His agent admitted — it’s the main goal for Viktor.
Slava Kozlov will be waiting for offers from the NHL til the end, but if he doesn’t get them, “we’ll start talks with him,” said CSKA president Slava Fetisov.
Finally, the ‘unfriendly ghost’ and current SKA coach Darius Kasparaitis has got a son! His girlfriend gave birth to their son in Saint Petersburg. Kasparaitis already has three daughters.
Not so long ago, soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk was one of the subjects of a television program here in Russia called “Millionaires on Ice.” Will he stay in North America? Will he come home to Russia? This clip gives some interesting insights into Kovalchuk the player, as well as Kovalchuk the personality.
Below is the video, along with my translation.
Translation by Goddess Thorkhild.
Ilya Kovalchuk: I have a lot of American acquaintances, but as for friends or people with whom I communicate with, they are very few. Because the mentality is different anyway.
At IIHF Worlds in Quebec in 2008 our hockey players won the title for the first time in 15 years. We won’t have this victory without Ilya Kovalchuk. The decisive final seemed to be lost to Canada. But 5 minutes before the end of 3d period Kovalchuk scored and equalized. 4-4. And in the overtime the precise shot by Ilya was the golden.
In the hot American state of Georgia, Ilya Kovalchuk arrived from Tver in 2001. He was just 18, and he went to Atlanta alone. His father, who had always accompanied his son, refused to fly with him this time. He thought Ilya wasn’t mature enough for the NHL, but he proved the opposite. He became the most recognizable player on the Atlanta Thrashers at once.
Ilya Kovalchuk: [At first] I always wanted to go home, and during the first two or three years after the final whistle, I took my things and ran away from here and flew to Moscow –- I missed my friends and parents.
Lyubov Kovalchuk: When he goes to Tver, he immediately phones [asking] “mom, will I have potato with mushrooms?” You will, you will.
The Americans at once shortened the surname “Kovalchuk” to a name short and convenient for them: “Kovy.” Ilya got used to that rather fast. But he is still grated by relations among people in America.
Ilya Kovalchuk: [Here] you go to the restaurant — you pay for yourself, and you pay for yourself. It’s unacceptable for us, right? What a man would let a lady pay for him?
His father taught him to skate. Valery Nikolaevich taught his son to work till exhaustion on hockey tricks and shots. Since age 15 Ilya trained in Tver in the mornings, and went to Moscow in the evenings to play for Spartak’s junior team. In Atlanta Kovalchuk plays wearing number 17, on Team Russia he wears number 71. On Team Russia, the number 17 is retired forever in memory of the legendary Valery Kharlamov. He is Kovalchuk’s idol. Professionals notice -– Ilya, like Valery once did, is able to take the game on himself and to decide the result of any game. If you’re compared with Kharlamov you’re a true superstar.
After three years of bachelor life in America Kovalchuk decided to marry a Russian only. Nicole is half Lithuanian, half Russian. In 2003 she sang with the pop group Mirage. Then she met Ilya. They had common friends. Nicole still sings.
Nicole: In the shower, in the car, for the children, to the smallest I sing lullabies, of course.
Ilya and Nicole married in church in Moscow in Novodevichiy Monastery.
Nicole:: Yes, it happened after three years after our first meeting, after birth of Carolina. You know, I never asked “When will it happen? Let’s get married.” I think the man should come to this decision himself.
Ilya Kovalchuk: My mom and dad lived together for 30-35 years, and they had such a united family, that’s why they grew us in the same way. So I knew that if I was making such a step, I should do it only once in my life.
Ilya Kovalchuk: I have my family, I have my small world in Atlanta, because I try not to get scattered, and to pay as much time as possible to my family, wife and children.
Nicole thinks that the main thing for a hockey player’s wife is a skill to have patience and wait. But then the meetings are especially joyful.
At IIHF Worlds in Switzerland in the final game against Canada team Russia hardly scored to lead in the second period. To keep such a tiny lead during the rest of the game is almost unreal. Our team was exhausting in front of us. And only Kovalchuk hardly the ice. He literally brought team Russia to the first place on his mighty shoulders.
Lyubov Kovalchuk: And in the end there was his gesture, he showed, I said “you weren’t so happy this year as last time.” He said, “mom, I was flat-out.”
Ilya’s father didn’t see the beautiful victory of his son. In 2005 Valery Nikolaevich died from a painful disease. He wasn’t even 60. Ilya still hardly perceives his father’s death.
Lyubov Kovalchuk: When Ilya started to practice, his father started a diary. The famous phrase which is often quoted now, is written in the beginning of the diary, “Our goal is the national team.”
When his father died, Ilya offered to move his mother to Atlanta. But she refused categorically.
Lyubov Kovalchuk: Why don’t I want to live with him constantly? I must have my own life.
In this Tver hospital she works already for 30 years. She gets to work by tram at 8 a.m., though she could have the most expensive car. Patients do not have any idea that she is the mother of a millionaire and a Russian superstar from the NHL Ilya Kovalchuk. It is not accepted to brag about fortune at the Kovalchuk’s.
Photo: Ilya Kovalchuk by Goddess Kaatiya. Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.
Kovalchuk, right, donned the "C" in place of injured Morozov, left, for the 2010 World Championships.
An interesting snipped from a Q&A with Russian national ice hockey team General Manager Vyacheslav Bykov on Ilya Kovalchuk.
Q: What can you say about Kovalchuk? Did he manage to get through his role of captain?
A: Absolutely! Though Ilya is still young, he is already a strong person. During three years of our meetings in the national team, he has grown up very rapidly. I admire his professional reaction to our first call after New Jersey had left the playoffs. “When and where are you waiting for me?”– Ilya asked like this at once. I believe this spring he was the first to show the example of decent respect to his national team and his country. The others followed his example already.
Q: If both Kovalchuk and (Alexei) Morozov go to the next worlds, and if their coach is Bykov, who will be the captain?
A: I think Kovalchuk. He represents the new generation, which has to take and is taking the relay baton in his hands. By the way, they’re friends with Morozov, Ilya is the godfather of Alexei’s child [thorkhild's note: they are the BEST mates ever, I cannot stop watching their summer photos and video interviews!] So I’m sure there won’t be any problems with that.
Unlike some countries, many of Team Sweden's top players didn't turn out for this year's World Championships. Here, Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic makes a move on Team Sweden goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
…In the NHL? Nope! The Caps are out of it, and frankly, the NHL sort of lost its luster to me after that. So what am I talking about? The World Championships happening right now in Manheim, Germany! Believe it or not, the semifinals of the 2010 World Championships are this Saturday, and the final four nations battling for the World title this year are: Российская Федерация, Česká Republika, Bundesrepublik Deutschland, and Konungariket Sverige.
Translation: Russia, Czech Republic, Germany, and Sweden.
Sweden will face the Czechs for a bid to the gold medal round this Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and Russia faces the Germans (!) afterwards at 6:00 p.m.
This tournament has been interesting to say the least. Germany won a bid to the semifinals for the first time since the current IIHF has been in existence spreading mass excitement throughout the land. The Russians’ success comes as no surprise, and likewise in some ways for the Czechs. The Swedes are playing without any of the country’s top stars and have still made it to the semis. The team itself is composed of players mainly from the Swedish Elite League, Kontinental Hockey League, junior teams, and a few National Hockey League stragglers.
Nicklas Backstrom was available to play, but due to a shoulder injury sustained in Game 3 of the series against the Habs, he opted for physical therapy and sleep instead. Many other players claimed “injury” as their excuse to opt out of playing for their national team. Not referring to Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Lundqvist, Daniel Alfredsson, Nicklas Kronwall, and Henrik Zetterberg because those guys are actually injured.
Only those that have come from NHL are: Mikael Backlund (rookie), Victor Hedman (rookie), Erik Karlsson (rookie), Jonas Gustavsson (rookie), Jonathan Ericsson, and Carl Gunnarsson (rookie). The rest either opted out entirely or are saying they are “injured.” Niclas Bergfors of the Atlanta Thrashers did come initially, but left because he dislikes Bengt Gustafsson and his coaching … ooooh, drama! The drama won’t last long though as Gustafsson’s contract to coach the national team ends after this year, and to many, his leaving is seen as a good thing. Many have speculated that is why plenty of the “healthy” or “injured” Swedes said “no” to playing for the National team.
The only two “big name” players (this is of course in my humble opinion) are junior stand-outs, Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson (Edmonton Oilers AND Lokomotiv Yaroslaval prospect — yeah, figure that one out) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Phoenix Coyotes Prospect).
The Russians being within reach of a medal is no shock to anyone who has taken a good look at the rosters of all the other national teams. The Russians easily boast the best team in the tournament this year with the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Semin, Maxim Afinogenov, and Alex Ovechkin leading the way offensively. With that much firepower, there should be no reason for the Russians to not medal … but wait, didn’t they do just that in the Vancouver Olympics? Hmm… In all seriousness, hopefully the Russians can redeem themselves a little bit by taking gold or silver — because we don’t want to know what Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin will do if they don’t!
Photo: Czech Republic vs. Sweden by Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images via daylife.com.
The Russian press caught Caps LW Alexander Semin enjoying a smoke.
The Russian tabloids went crazy this week after several members of the Russian national hockey team were captured on film smoking outside a restaurant in Germany at the World Championships – the most familiar being Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals. Other “guilty” parties shown in the video are Ilya Nikulin, whose rights belong to the Atlanta Thrashers, and 2002 NHL draftees Sergei Mozyakin (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Vitaly Atyushov (Ottawa Senators). Late in the video one can also see soon-to-be UFA Ilya Kovalchuk hanging out with the naughty smokers and acting a little “off” while being escorted into a waiting car.
It seems ironic that in a country where just about everyone smokes that something like this would spark such controversy and outrage. Or not.
During Soviet times, Russia took its athletes’ development very seriously. Hockey players were closely monitored and were strictly forbidden from smoking and drinking. Athletes were highly revered and their jobs were taken very seriously. They were seen as more than just mere mortals, having an amazing ability and will to resist outside distractions. After all, they were living representations of the Soviet ideal. Most of the players from that era still maintain a strict policy of abstinence when it comes to tobacco and alcohol.
Of course, there are always the exceptions. We’ve all heard the stories about Sergei Zubov smoking in the showers between periods or Nikolai Khabibulin having a clause written in his contract allowing him to smoke, but the majority of the old-school players didn’t and still don’t.
Alexander Semin, left, lights up with his Russian teammates.
Yet in the new Russia things are different. While players are still closely watched by their teams, attitudes definitely seem to have relaxed in many areas. Smoking, it turns out, is one of them. A current KHL player told us it’s the nature of being a hockey player: You either smoke or dip (chewing tobacco). In Russia, smoking is definitely the mode of choice. Still, hockey is one of the most popular sports in Russia, with world competitions being big news. So much so that in response to the media frenzy, the team has decided to boycott the press, a move which, of course, has created even more controversy in the Motherland.
Yet to be fair, we have to mention that smoking and chewing is also part of the scene in the NHL, the minor leagues and college in North America. Don’t let the media fool you. It may be more hidden these days, but believe me, it’s quite pervasive –- especially chewing tobacco — at just about every level. Even superstar Alex Ovechkin has been known to indulge in a little bit of snuff.
While the Russian population is shocked, North American fans seem to be saying “big deal” (although I wonder what the reaction in Canada would be if, say, Sidney Crosby was caught doing either). Here, we have to shake our heads at the stupidity, naivete or audacity of these players: Standing outside a restaurant smoking in full view of the public practically begging someone to bust them; and then give a little chuckle when they boycott the media for daring to report it when someone catches them red handed.