Morning Reading List: Everyone's Going to the KHL
[Post on steriods bust coming up...]
Caps GM George McPhee says he can't confirm a report that veteran Viktor Kozlov, above, has signed with Salavat of the KHL.
Kozlov, however, told Russian newspaper Sport-Express last night that he plans to play in Russia next season. (Japers' Rink)
Meanwhile, Sergei Fedorov's agent says that while he's talked to the Caps about extending his client's contract, it's entirely possible that the 39-year-old forward could end up outside of Washington next season. One option, according to a Sport-Express report: playing for the KHL's Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Three current Capitals have reportedly been in talks with KHL teams as of late, enforcer Donald Brashear being the third. Will any -- or all -- end up in Russia next season? Let's just put it this way: Money is a powerful thing.
Count The Sporting News' Craig Custance and Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood among those who aren't ready to see Fedorov walk away from the NHL:
Fedorov, 39, was a calming influence on the Capitals this season where he was a mentor to young Russians like Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin. Watching Fedorov beat Henrik Lundqvist in the third period of a first-round Game 7 also showed he still has an elite scorer's touch. The Capitals made serious strides this season, and Fedorov was a big part of that.
Detroit goalie Chris Osgood won two Stanley Cups with Fedorov and finds the trend of veteran Russians leaving the NHL early disturbing.
"To lose those guys is huge. We have to figure out a way to keep guys like Sergei and (Jaromir) Jagr and those great older veteran players," Osgood said. "I think it's important to have older guys like that, that younger European players can look up to when they get over here and understand how to handle themselves on and off the ice. That's what guys like Igor Larionov did for him."
Here's what Wings Coach Mike Babcock had to say about Fedorov yesterday (MLive.com):
Q. There's a report saying that Sergei Fedorov is about to sign with the Russian team, ending his NHL career. Do you feel his legacy, the Russian five, puck possession style, today in this organization?
MIKE BABCOCK: You know, I wasn't here for any of that. I don't know. I just hear about it. When Sergei came to play for me in Anaheim, I remember Sergei always saying to me, I never have the puck, Mike, I never have the puck. The D never pass me the puck. I never have the puck.
So I went back and I looked at our D. I compared to it Detroit's D. I knew why he never had the puck. He couldn't understand why we wanted to chip it ahead and race onto it all the time. Well, part of that is because if you don't have these people, what are you going to do?
Sergei has had a great career. I still think he can play in the league. I think he can play in the league here as a defenseman for sure. You know, I don't know about the report.
More on the Caps
Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan (hat tip to Alex Ovetjkin): "Pittsburgh advancing means more Sidney Crosby. Oh I know, he's such a great player, and all you people just love him to death. Frankly, I'm tired of watching him. Mostly, his interviews. He says nothing and does so unenthusiastically. But to me, his game lacks pizzaz as well. Give me Alex Ovechkin any day. He's a much more spectacular player and, unlike Crosby, he looks like he actually enjoys the job that gives him enough money to buy anything in the world he wants."
Who gets to play the Bruins at Fenway Park for the Winter Classic? The Caps and Flyers are rumored possibilities, but The Sporting Blog's Eric McErlain isn't so sure about Washington: "Like it or not, as much progress as the Capitals have made in terms of building their fan base -- and it's hard to overstate just how much progress they've made since the resolution of the lockout -- they simply don't have the same sort of hold on the Washington area that the Flyers have on Philadelphia."
The Penguins routed the Hurricanes last night, 4-1, to pull off a sweep and head back to the finals for the second year in a row. Sidney Crosby had two assists in the victory to extend his point streak to six games. (AP)
But the Pens are wary of the same result as last year in a potential Pittsburgh-Detroit rematch, says ESPN's Scott Burnside:
If there was a moment of celebration after this one, it was stunningly brief, as though this wasn't so much a victory as a brief stop along the way to some more exotic locale. The odd can of light beer, a couple of players sporting Eastern Conference championship hats, a couple of visitors ... that was it.
"You don't expect to get there. You work for it, but at the same time, it's a relief," Crosby said of being just four wins away from a championship for the second straight season. "We have another opportunity here. Sometimes, you go that far and you never get a chance to go at it for a while. Some of the older guys, I think Billy Guerin, it's been a while for him. And for the guys that were here last year, we know that they've got a special opportunity to go at it again, and we want to take full advantage of it."
The Red Wings' Valtteri Filppula has stepped up and shown his value as a fill-in for Pavel Datsyuk. (USA Today)
Nicklas Lidstrom and Datsyuk are both iffy for what could be a series-clinching Game 5 against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Detroit Free-Press)
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