Dmitry Chesnokov

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  • Getty ImagesWashington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin won his third Hart Trophy last summer in a very close vote. His play in the second half of the lockout-shortened season brought flashback of the “old” Ovechkin – the one so many loved and adored. The one before all of the “he is so predictable,” “he is so overrated,” “he will never be that good again” comments.

    The higher you fly, the harder you fall, as they said, and at time it looked like Ovechkin may not reach that high bar he set for himself.

    Going into the new season, however, Ovechkin is more focused than he has been in a while. He looked relaxed and at ease last week meeting with the media when the Capitals opened their training camp. It looked like he was happy again: happy with his game, happy with his coach.

    We caught up with him for a few minutes to talk about the past, the present and the future.

    Q. Are the expectations going into this season any different than before?

    OVECHKIN: “With the new division we are in, and the Olympic

    Read More »from Alex Ovechkin on criticism of his game, meddlesome coaches and Sochi Olympic pressure (Puck Daddy Interview)
  • Getty ImagesPavel Datsyuk signed a 3-year extension with the Detroit Red Wings in June, ensuring that his hockey wizardry will remain in the NHL.

    As surprising as Datsyuk can be as a player, his team was equally as surprising last season: Pushing the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to a seventh game in the conference semifinals.

    We spoke with Datsyuk recently about his future, the Red Wings, his critics, his opponents and how his legacy has even carried over to the iPhone.

    Q. The end of the season turned out quite interesting for you.

    DATSYUK: “Of course! It was a great feeling to be staying with the Red Wings. The club really wanted to sign the extension. Our wishes were mutual, I really wanted to stay.”

    Did the rumors about your alleged departure to the KHL that came up during the playoffs affect you?

    “To be honest with you, I didn’t even listen to them. Rumors and rumors. There are always more than enough of them.”

    Detroit is quite a young team at the moment, and a lot of people thought that last season you went much further than you should have. Is it a fair assessment?

    “Actually this is not quite accurate. Yes, we really do have a young team. And it is true that it was difficult for us to play against higher seeded teams, those that were above us in the standings. But we had a very good chance. And in my opinion our young players showed themselves to be very capable.”

    Read More »from Pavel Datsyuk on Red Wings’ future, Winter Classic and making opponents look silly (Puck Daddy Interview)
  • Why Ilya Kovalchuk didn’t disrespect NJ Devils in leaving for KHL

    The announcement last Thursday made by the New Jersey Devils that Ilya Kovalchuk had retired from the NHL sent shockwaves through the hockey world. The news came as a big surprise to most.

    But not all.

    Those close to Ilya Kovalchuk were not as surprised as the rest of us. Albeit, as one source told me, they didn’t expect this to happen for another two years or so.

    As the initial shock is settling, we come to realize that the reasons behind Kovalchuk’s decision are as complex as can be. It has always been difficult to get into his head. However, it appears that the only thing that is certain that Kovalchuk was contemplating leaving the NHL for some time. The decision to leave was not a “spur of the moment” thing; it was not something that was brewing for weeks.

    It's something that he was considering for a long time.

    Read More »from Why Ilya Kovalchuk didn’t disrespect NJ Devils in leaving for KHL
  • 163626120SKA St. Petersburg announced on Monday morning that it has signed former New Jersey Devils forward – and now-retired NHL player – Ilya Kovalchuk to a 4-year contract. He will wear No. 17.

    No financial terms were disclosed, but reports had his annual salary at $10 million per season.

    Said KHL President Alexander Medvedev on KHL.ru:

    “It is a pleasure to confirm that Ilya Kovalchuk took advantage of his legal right to continue his hockey career outside of the NHL, and has signed a contract with SKA. I will point out that the contract is signed in adherence to all legal rules if the KHL and the NHL, in full accordance with the new Memorandum of Understanding between the Leagues. In the nearest future the contract will be officially registered in the [KHL] Central Information Bureau database.”

    Did Kovalchuk do it for the money? His new team says no.

    Read More »from Ilya Kovalchuk signs 4-year deal with SKA; ‘Ilya didn’t do it for the money, but for Russia’
  • Kovalchuk’s mother: Escrow, taxes led to son’s ‘civilized’ departure from NHL

    Getty ImagesIlya Kovalchuk “retired” from the NHL Thursday – the news that shook the entire hockey world. SKA St. Petersburg, the KHL club Kovalchuk played for during this last NHL lockout, was expected to make a “big announcement” on Thursday. But didn’t. It is now obvious what that announcement was going to be – Kovalchuk was going to sign with the club. The champagne will be kept on ice at least until Monday, it appears. SKA promptly denied reports that Kovalchuk may have signed a contract with the team before he returned to the NHL in January.

    Kovalchuk is still in the United States with his family, while SKA players reported to the club for medicals yesterday. Players will start skating on July 15 with training camp starting July 22 in Switzerland. That may be the day Kovalchuk will actually join the team, although according to his mother (see below) Ilya won’t come to Russia until August 1. No official announcement has been made, although some SKA players, including goaltender Ilya Ezhov, acknowledged hearing about the move during their medicals.

    Neither Kovalchuk, nor his agents have made any official statements, other than the one announced by the New Jersey Devils yesterday. However, SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov spoke with Kovalchuk’s mother (she’s always been very open with the media, confirming the 17-year “original” contract Kovalchuk signed with the Devils), who shed some light on the situation. She was not surprised of the developments at all, saying, “I knew about it, to be honest. Of course Ilya discussed this matter with me. It was back in January when my son was thinking about staying with SKA. But he went back to New Jersey to finish the season. Everything had to be done in a civilized manner; all legal questions must have been resolved.”

    Here are some more quotes from that conversation:

    Read More »from Kovalchuk’s mother: Escrow, taxes led to son’s ‘civilized’ departure from NHL
  • Sergei Gonchar nearing KHL deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk

    Getty ImagesOttawa Senators free agent defenseman Sergei Gonchar has spoken about a desire to play two more seasons in the NHL, preferably with the Ottawa Senators.

    But he may be nearing an agreement to play in the KHL next season instead.

    Gonchar is close to going to Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL; and, according to what I was told, even has a preliminary agreement with the team in place.

    According to SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov, Metallurg President Gennady Velichkin said he didn’t have any statements for the media at this time, but didn’t deny the report and said more information will be presented Monday or Tuesday.

    Gonchar told Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that “he has had offers from KHL teams but has signed nothing yet.”

    He will become an unrestricted free agent in the NHL on July 5, and turned 39 in April.

    Keep in mind that Gonchar has a long relationship with Metallurg, having played there during the 2004-05 lockout and again during this season’s lockout. Gonchar was playing there when he questioned whether NHL players would stay in the KHL after the lockout ended.

    It's also the place where former NHL coach Mike Keenan will scare players next season as head coach.

    Read More »from Sergei Gonchar nearing KHL deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk
  • Getty Images

    By Dmitry Chesnokov

    Sergei Bobrovsky is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy. His 2.00 GAA and .932 save percentage season nearly led the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for only the second time in team history. He may be the cover model for NHL 14.

    Ah, yes: He’s a restricted free agent this summer. Translation: Sergei Bobrovsky is going to get paid.

    The question is: Who’s paying him?

    Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said the two sides haven’t made any progress on a new contract. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets will extend a qualifying offer to Bobrovsky by the end of June to retain his rights. After that, he would be open to an offer sheet from another NHL team.

    But there’s another suitor.

    Some time in April, SKA St. Petersburg decided to go after Bobrovsky. I was told the money they are willing to offer is very good.

    Read More »from Sergei Bobrovsky targeted by KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg; will he stay with Blue Jackets?
  • Getty ImagesAs impressive as the Toronto Maple Leafs were in their playoff series against the Boston Bruins, Mikhail Grabovski had a different experience. The forward had just two assists and was a minus-10 for the Leafs – a performance that came after a 9-goal, 7-assist one in 48 games this season.

    I spoke with Grabovski about the Leafs’ playoff run; whether Game 7 was his worst loss of his career; his season under coach Randy Carlyle; his Datsyukian goal attempt; his incident with Max Pacioretty; and what the future holds.

    Q. Let’s start with a couple of thoughts about the season.

    GRABOVSKI: “The season turned to be positive overall. I wouldn’t say it was the best one for me or very successful, but it was certainly interesting, I gained a lot of experience.”

    Yet it ended in a big disappointment. If you were asked to describe what happened in a few words, what would you say?

    “I would say… You know, it is so difficult to describe it, very difficult to talk about it. It left a very bad feeling. But it was still an experience. It showed that as a team we are not yet ready to compete for the Stanley Cup. At the same time, we are almost there.”

    Read More »from Mikhail Grabovski on biting Max Pacioretty; his disappointing Leafs postseason; losing Game 7 (Puck Daddy interview)
  • Ilya Bryzgalov praises Joseph Stalin, wants to ask Einstein about the universe

    Getty ImagesJust when you think Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov couldn’t get more, uh, interesting, he speaks about the virtues of Cold War leader and socialist icon Joseph Stalin while wondering what kind of conversation he’d have with Albert Einstein.

    From a much longer interview here with journalist Maria Rogovskaya that can be found here (ED NOTE: Since removed), Byrzgalov said:

    Q. All journalists try to interview you. And is there a person who you would like to talk to?

    “A lot of them are not alive anymore… I would love to talk to Genghis Khan, Stalin, Einstein.”

    Stalin is a very controversial figure. How do you feel about him?

    “Positive. I see logic in his action. Not without going too far, of course. But he came to power in a country that had just lived through a revolution. There were so many spies, enemies, traitors there. A lot of people still had guns after the civil war. The country was in ruins, [people] needed to survive somehow. The country needed to be rebuilt, and in

    Read More »from Ilya Bryzgalov praises Joseph Stalin, wants to ask Einstein about the universe
  • Tretiak: World Cup of Hockey set for a comeback in 2016

    Getty ImagesThe last World Cup of Hockey was held in 2004. A great hockey spectacle showcasing the world’s best players battling it out for their country was the successor of the equally historic Canada Cup that was held from 1976 to 1991. Since the last World Cup of Hockey there have been a few suggestions to bring the tournament back, especially in light of the desire of players involved to be able to play for their country at a high level tournament (no offence, IIHF World Championships).

    The NHL, the NHLPA and the IIHF got together in Sweden recently to negotiate a lot of items on their agenda, including the new player transfer agreement and NHL’s participation in Sochi. As we reported Friday, the NHL is set to announce their agreement to send players to Russia next February in the coming weeks. A tentative break in the next NHL season set between February 9 and February 25 is planned.

    But what we didn’t know is that the NHL is also set to revive the World Cup of Hockey. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reported yesterday that the new player transfer agreement with the IIHF (minus Russia) included a provision for a cooperation for a World Cup of Hockey.

    And Saturday morning, Vladislav Tretiak, President of the Russian Hockey Federation who was present at the meetings with the NHL, told Sovetsky Sport that the World Cup of Hockey will indeed be back. The first after a long absence will be held in August of 2016 in the same format as the last one in 2004.

    Going through the rosters of the last World Cup, it is possible to see that a few players from each national team may play in 2016, like Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk for Russia, Vincent Lecavalier for Canada, Zdeno Chara for Slovakia. It is also evident how the US goaltender situation has improved over the years after seeing Ty Conklin, Rick DiPietro and Robert Esche tending the net for Team USA in 2004.

    The resuscitation of the World Cup of Hockey also casts a shadow of a doubt of the NHL’s participation in any future Olympics beyond 2014 in Sochi.

    Read More »from Tretiak: World Cup of Hockey set for a comeback in 2016

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