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Heward (and Lots of Others) Head to Russia

I just returned from the beach and I'm slowly catching up this morning.

One item that caught my eye was an entry over at the Fanhouse that says former Capitals defenseman Jamie Heward, and lots of other NHL free agents, are heading to the Russian Super League.

I can't blame Jamie, or any of the rest of them for that matter. The money in Russia is pretty good, and you've got to remember that hockey players, like all pro athletes, have a very small window of opportunity to earn big dollars.

We've seen what I'm sure is a record number of decent NHLers take that route so far this summer, something that comes as a result of the penny-pinching under the league's new collective bargaining agreement. Even with the salary cap rising to just more than $50-million, there are an awful lot of teams that don't have more than the minimum to allot to their checking-line forwards and defenders, which, after an injury-plagued season in Pittsburgh, is where Ekman was likely going to play this season.
The money in Russia isn't necessarily 'big money', but it does dwarf an NHL minimum contract, and especially so when tax considerations come into play (as in, in Russia, there aren't many).
Ekman is perhaps the most significant player to flee so far (aside from Alex Yashin, although that depends on your definition of significant), given he's one season removed from back-to-back 20-plus-goal, 55-plus-point campaigns in San Jose - but he's far from alone. Familiar faces to make the jump this summer include Jamie Heward, Alex Perezhogin, Jamie Lundmark, Oleg Tverdovsky, Stanislav Chistov, Oleg Saprykin, Jamie McLennan, Anton Babchuk, Alex Suglobov and Randy Robitaille.
And we're also getting word Jan Bulis and Josef Vasicek could soon join them.


And J.P. over at Japer's Rink found this article in today's Regina Leader Post that sheds more light on Heward's decision.

The 36-year-old Regina native plans to leave the NHL for a lucrative contract with St. Petersburg in the Russian Super League. The one-year deal, believed to be worth around $1 million Cdn, is expected to be announced as early as today.

Congrats to Jamie, who was always a great quote and very generous with his time.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 15, 2007; 9:44 AM ET
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Add Dmitri Afanasenkov to that list

Posted by: SovSport | August 15, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

SovSport -- thanks. that's quite a list. and it seems to be growing.

Posted by: Tarik | August 15, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

No doubt. It is not over. Zhamnov is over in the States now trying to convince Danny Markov to join his team in Russia

Posted by: SovSport | August 15, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I wish Jamie and his family well. My wife met both Jamie and his wife at the Caps "Hockey and Heels" promotion last year and said that both were very nice.

Posted by: Blueline | August 15, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

The boys over at On Frozen Blog have a translation of an interview by SovSport with Kozlov. He outlines some concerns with the Russian Super League and job security for players. It's an interesting read all around, but has some relevant info on this post as well.

Posted by: Chris | August 15, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Good for Jamie. I get the feeling the wife and kids may stay here though and visit every so often. I was sorry to see him leave DC.

Posted by: EricS | August 15, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I've got a bit about Jamie. He'll be the 4th N/A player for St. Petersburg SKA. He doesn't need to speak Russian with the Head Coach because it is Barry Smith.

Posted by: alexovetjkin | August 15, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

So if Heward doesn't bother to learn Russian does that make him a selfish, spoiled prima donna like Semin is for not speaking English?

Posted by: mrmoa | August 15, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Double standards, my friend

Posted by: Finn | August 15, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, Vasicek is off the list. He signed with the Islanders.

Posted by: norske | August 15, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

heward is almost 15 years older than semin and is at the tail end of his career, obviously. semin on the other hand is just starting what will be a (hopefully)long career in north america. Even if glen hanlon was russian you still wouldnt have much of an argument, there is usually a requirement to even be considered a prima donna; skill.

Posted by: capman jones | August 15, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Capman j,

Are you saying Semin doesn't have skill????
I am sure Russian fans look at N/A players coming over the same way we look at all the Russians. They are coming over because of the money.
Question: Is the NHL still or was it ever the best Hockey league in the world?
The answer is becoming less clear w/ all these players going over.

Posted by: capfan1 | August 16, 2007 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Im saying heward doesnt. its not a double standard, its a completely different situation

Posted by: capman jones | August 16, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

capman jones,

Of course it is! Isn't it always a "different situation" when someone of "your own" is involved? Don't be a hypocrite

Posted by: Finn | August 16, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

setle down there buddy, im not being a hypocrite at all, there is a huge difference when youre talking about an over the hill player going to russia to play 1-2 years max before coming back to north america to retire, and a 23 year old who probably plans on spending the next decade or so living and working in america. the point is that if heward doesnt make every effort to fully assimilate himself into the russian culture, that does not make him a prima donna, nor does he have the ability or potential to even be considered one. and while i often wish semin would make a more visible effort to open up and talk to reporters, i certainly dont think he is a prima donna or even a detriment to the team like many others have written. give him time he will learn the language and become more comfortable. it takes longer for some to learn the language than others (as he said himself) and he wants to do it on his own time. fine.

on a side not, capfan1 are you kidding, you think the nhl's place as by far and away the best league in the world is in jeopardy because a handful of players comprised mostly of third and fourth liners and a couple of over the hill stars that couldnt get contracts here are going to russia to play and try to earn a living, praying all the while an nhl club takes notice? ridiculous.

Posted by: capman jones | August 16, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

capman jones,

A little bit OT, but this kind of thinking got the US in a bunch of trouble in Iraq and other places. There ARE other countries in the world that MUST be respected.

Posted by: Finn | August 17, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

terrible comparison finn, iraq? why are you even going there? nothing i said was disrespectful whatsoever, and if there is something id like to know what, i think you need to re-read because youre really reaching

Posted by: capman jones | August 17, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: capman jones | August 19, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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