I know that the owners made their money in other ventures, so it's not like they don't have other avenues they can turn to when looking to make a buck. The players, however, seem to think that going over to Europe and Russia to play hockey is a fine idea. My issue with that theory is that they are taking ice time and, possibly, a roster position from a player who certainly EARNED a spot on that European team's roster. Just because Evgeni Malkin shows up at Magnitogorsk's arena doorstep to play for Metallurg doesn't necessarily mean he should be shown the red carpet.
Malkin stated that he has an agreement in principle to play with Metallurg Magnitogorsk on a week-to-week basis if the NHL season doesn't start on time. No owner in his right mind would turn away a perennial NHL All-Star like Malkin, so I'm pretty sure that the mining town of Magnitogorsk will be cheering on Evgeni Malkin if the NHL season is delayed.
However, Dynamo Moscow president Arkady Rotenberg was quoted in R-Sport as saying,
"'I'm actually against it. And I don't see any prestige in it,' Rotenberg said.It's interesting to note that KHL president Alexander Medvedev has stated that he would enact measures that would allow more foreign-born talent to join KHL teams if the NHL season were to be cancelled. But is that really good for the KHL? After all, if the NHL season begins in January, the KHL teams carrying a number of NHL stars would be crippled a month before the Gagarin Cup Playoffs start.
"'I think that Ovechkin isn't necessary.'
Rotenberg, a billionaire businessman with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, hinted that he could be persuaded to bring in Ovechkin by Safronov and coach Oleg Znarok. 'I don't know. If they persuade me strongly,' he said."
Does it really make sense to disrupt your entire team's chemistry if a player leaves with a month or so to go in the season? Worse yet, what if three players leave? What if your starting goaltender leaves? How do KHL teams fill the void left by an Evgeni Malkin or Nail Yakupov (who is reportedly going to play for HC Neftekhimik of Nizhnekamsk, Russia)? Dynamic players like this cannot be replaced so easily, and their losses could be enough to sink a team in the opening round of the playoffs if they are playing above their potential.
So I ask you, readers: if you were running a European club, would you open your doors to an NHL player with the knowledge that you may be left shorthanded once the NHL season begins? Would you rather embark on a season with the club you have established and let the chips fall where they may?
Personally, I'd go with the latter. There's no guarantee that the season will be erased and, honestly, the two sides should come to realize that it is smarter to play hockey than it is to cancel another part or whole season. By sticking with my team, I may lose in the short term, but the team will be much better in the long run.
While I get that if one team in a league does it, they all have to in order to match their competition, NHL player should have a little more sympathy for their brethren playing overseas. After all, the jobs that they took when they arrived in the NHL were some of the jobs that those in Europe and the KHL used to hold.
I guess that if you're a player, the only brethren you care about are those paying the same union fees you are.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!