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Finland loses Mikko Koivu, Val Filppula for Sochi Olympics

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Valtteri Filppula and Mikko Koivu of Team Finland

Valtteri Filppula and Mikko Koivu were set to center Finland’s top two lines. (Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Finland wasn’t considered a gold medal favorite coming into the Sochi Games, but the country’s history of disciplined team play and outstanding goaltending hinted at a team capable of coming home with some hardware.

Those chances look considerably bleaker today after both Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu and Tampa Bay Lightning star Valtteri Filppula were forced to pull out of the Games due to injury.

Koivu injured his ankle in a Jan. 5 game against the Washington Capitals and underwent surgery the next day in an attempt to make it back on time to represent his homeland. He recently began skating with the Wild, but was not given medical clearance to return to game action.

Filppula’s loss might be even more disappointing. The top Finnish scorer in the NHL with 20 goals and 41 points, he suffered a non-displaced fracture in his ankle during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

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  • Published On Feb 07, 2014
  • While NHL dithers, KHL takes stand against on-ice violence

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    By Allan Muir

    Brendan Shanahan shouldn’t have to be this busy.

    Not even three weeks into the 2013-14 season and the NHL’s chief disciplinarian already has doled out 53 games worth of suspensions and docked nearly $750,000 in pay from players who can’t figure out how to stay within the lines. And those figures are likely to rise on Tuesday after he meets with Colorado’s Cody McLeod, who was called on the carpet for boarding Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall on Thursday night.

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  • Published On Oct 19, 2013
  • Report: Sergei Fedorov unretires, will play in KHL on Friday

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    Sergei Fedorov is unretiring to play of CSKA Moscow of the KHL

    CSKA Moscow GM Sergei Fedorov figures he’s better than what his team has at center. (KHL Photo Agency/Getty)

    By Allan Muir

    You’re never too old to dream a dream, sit on Santa’s lap or, apparently, play in the KHL.

    A report in today’s Sovietsky Sport suggests that 43-year-old Sergei Fedorov is ditching his suit and tie, and whatever passes for Geritol in Russia, and is planning to strap on his skates for a return to action with CSKA Moscow. He could be back on the ice as soon as Friday.

    It seems to be a move made out of desperation as much as anything. According to the article, Fedorov, currently serving as the team’s GM, isn’t happy with his centers, which include his younger brother Fedor, Nikolay Prokhorkin, Ilari Filppula and Ilya Zubov, and figures he’d be an upgrade. Or maybe he just wants to get in good with Alexander Radulov so he has someone to hang out with on the road. Who knows? Fedorov hasn’t said anything officially, although the article hints that there could be an announcement on Thursday.

    What’s he have left? Tough to say. Fedorov scored six goals and 22 points for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2011-12, the last of his three unspectacular seasons in the KHL. Prior to that, he spent 18 years in the NHL with Detroit, Columbus, Anaheim and Washington, scoring 483 goals and 1,179 points in 1,248 career games and winning three Stanley Cups, all with Detroit.


  • Published On Oct 09, 2013
  • Video: Ilya Kovalchuk blasted by teammate, could miss 4-6 weeks

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    By Allan Muir

    With seven goals in his first nine games, Ilya Kovalchuk hasn’t met an opponent yet who can stop his one-man rampage through the KHL.

    If only he had the same luck with his teammates.

    Kovalchuk was leading the rush into Vityaz Chekhov’s zone last night when he was clobbered at the blueline by his own winger, Alexei Ponikarovsky. Kovy had his head up all the way but couldn’t avoid the hard hit when his former New Jersey Devils teammate veered into his path at the last instant.

    Kovalchuk looked dazed, but managed to get up immediately and skate off under his own power. Turns out that he had more than the wind knocked out of him, however.

    Tough break for Kovy . . . and remember to stay classy, Jersey.


  • Published On Sep 30, 2013
  • Ilya Kovalchuk struggles in first game since return to KHL

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    Ilya Kovalchuk

    Ilya Kovalchuk has said he doesn’t think playing in the KHL will dull his skills. (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    This probably wasn’t how Ilya Kovalchuk pictured it all going down.

    Although his SKA St. Petersburg club rolled to a convincing 5-1 win over Avangard Omsk on Friday night, the erstwhile Devil was held pointless in his less-than-triumphant return to the KHL.

    Typical enigmatic Russian, am I right?

    Kovalchuk put just one shot on net for SKA. He did, however, kick one into the net at the end of the game, “seemingly out of frustration,” according to rsport.com.

    No doubt he will find the net when it counts soon enough — he had 42 points in 36 games for SKA last season, after all — but jilted fans in New Jersey had to enjoy seeing Kovalchuk faceplant in his first action since he hung them out to dry.


  • Published On Sep 06, 2013
  • Video: Little kid beats the living snot out of Evgeni Malkin

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    By Allan Muir

    Doesn’t matter who you are in this game. You can’t let anyone push you around . . . even in the handshake line.

    And during a recent charity game that featured some of Russia’s top stars, this unnamed seven-year-old wasn’t in the mood to take any crap from anyone. So when Evgeni Malkin popped him in the head, things got ugly in a hurry.

    Hey, that’s every little kid’s dream right? To meet his favorite professional athlete . .  .and beat the tar out of him.

    It wasn’t long before a yard sale was in progress, with gloves and sticks flying while two officials stood nearby — and out of harm’s way.

    In the end, Malkin succumbed to the pummeling, prompting Flyers GM Paul Holmgren to offer the kid a three-year entry-level contract.


  • Published On Aug 26, 2013
  • Sergei Fedorov says KHL almost stole another NHL star

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    Pavel Datsyuk was targeted by CSKA Moscow, but the Red Wings star opted to stay in Detroit. [Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]

    Pavel Datsyuk was targeted by CSKA Moscow, but the Red Wings star opted to stay in Detroit. [Getty Images]

    By Allan Muir

    Maybe if CSKA Moscow general manager Sergei Fedorov had been a bit more persuasive, Ilya Kovalchuk would have had some superstar-caliber company in the KHL.

    According to a report in today’s RiaNovosti, Fedorov had a sit-down meeting with Pavel Datsyuk, hoping to convince the star forward to bolt the NHL and return home to Russia at the end of his current contract.

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  • Published On Jul 19, 2013
  • Nightmare scenario for Team Canada if NHL rejects Sochi Olympics

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    If NHL players are not allowed to play the 2014 Olympics, Team Canada would be hit hard without the likes of Sidney Crosby. (Damian Strohmeyer/SI)

    If NHL players are not allowed to play the 2014 Olympics, Team Canada would be much less formidable. (Damian Strohmeyer/SI)

    By Allan Muir

    They’ve talked and talked and talked some more about NHL players participating in the 2014 Olympics. And here we are, the middle of July when the NHL schedule is supposed to be released, and still no definitive word from any of the parties involved on whether the world’s best hockey players are headed to Sochi.

    But who knows? Maybe we’ll hear today that everything has been agreed upon and Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin can block off a couple of weeks in February for a trip to Russia.

    Or maybe we won’t.

    It’s not that today is a drop-dead. You’d have to think they’ll keep talking, even if this was the day targeted to finalize the deal so the NHL could release the 2013-14 schedule on Wednesday. After all, there’s a lot of money at stake here, especially for NBC which not only needs hockey to draw big audiences for its Olympic coverage, but is counting on this high-profile event to introduce casual fans to the players that they hopefully will watch on NBCSN long after the Games have concluded.

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  • Published On Jul 16, 2013
  • Ilya Kovalchuk speaks out: “I’m sure I made the right decision.”

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    Ilya Kovalchuk signed a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Ilya Kovalchuk signed a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Just hours after signing a new four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, Ilya Kovalchuk came clean Monday in the Russian publication Sovietsky Sport about why he left the NHL and what it means to him to be back home in Russia.

    “I have no regrets,” he said. “I’m sure I made the right decision.”

    He didn’t offer up any surprises while explaining why he bailed out on the final 12 years and $77 million of a contract he signed with the New Jersey Devils to head home, but he did offer some insights into his stunning career change.

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  • Published On Jul 15, 2013
  • Ilya Kovalchuk signs with SKA St. Petersburg of KHL, plans NHL return

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    Ilya Kovalchuk

    After retiring from the NHL, Ilya Kovalchuk signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg. (Mike Stobe/NHL/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s official: Ilya Kovalchuk has signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

    The league confirmed the deal is for four years and that Kovalchuk will wear No. 17 with the club.

    No financial terms were disclosed, but unconfirmed reports suggest he could make as much as $15 million per season.

    Not that he made the move for the money, of course.

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  • Published On Jul 15, 2013


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