Sunday, 15 February 2015

No Place Like Detroit

The player wearing #25 and making the deflection in the image to the left is former Detroit Red Wing forward Cory Emmerton. You may not have known where he's playing, but he has been in Russia all season with the KHL's Sochi Leopards. He's having a decent season with 17 goals and 29 points in 56 games, but I'm pretty certain he never expected anything like what happened in their weekend game against Vityaz. In fact, depending on what the results come back with, he may not even remember it happening.

I had read an article written on The Faceoff Circle by Andrey Osadchenko about this, but I needed more details. To set the scene, you have to know that Vityaz was fighting for their playoff lives in their 57th game of the season. A loss would mean they were eliminated from the playoffs, so this game was definitely a must-win game. Sochi, who holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings ahead of Vityaz, could make their trek to the playoffs a little less crowded with a win. The stakes were obviously high in this game.

Things didn't go so well for Vityaz in the game on Friday. Sochi had built a 5-0 lead through the first two periods before Maxim Afinogenov broke the goose egg for Vityaz. Being that his goal came far too late to be of any significance, Vityaz's Alexei Kudreman decided to take matters into his own hands with four seconds remaining in the game. Here's the video, although it won't give you much to work with yet.
Emmerton is the player at the end skating away from the crowd with his arms up as he yells at the referee. There are four seconds left in the 5-1 game, and Emmerton looks pretty angry. Why, you ask? Maybe because this is what Kudreman did to Emmerton in the corner.
Yeah, that looks somewhat serious. Emmerton is reportedly suffering from a concussion from that cut on his head that required five stitches to close, and Sochi is reportedly looking at pressing assault charges against Vityaz's Kudreman for the unprovoked attack on Emmerton.

"We will look into the possibility of filing criminal charges," Sochi head coach Slava Butsayev told reporters. "These are not just words. I'm not saying that for the sake of scaring someone. There are certain things that shouldn't be forgiven. If this kid thinks he's going to go on like nothing happened, he's mistaken."

Apparently, there was some skirmish earlier in the game where Slava Solodukhin, the Vityaz captain, was injured. According to Vityaz General Manager Igor Varitsky, "Kudreman wanted to put Sochi players back in their place."

Um, what? Look, I understand the idealism of eye-for-an-eye when it comes to equaling a wrong committed against your team, but viciously attacking Emmerton - he of 22 NHL PIMs in 139 career games - is the wrong way to do it. Solodukhin is Chekhov Vityaz's leading goal scorer with 21 goals, yet there is no word on the KHL site or anywhere else about the injury or the severity of the injury that Solodukhin suffered. For all we know, he could be back by next game.

Since Varitsky seems to have spoken to Kudreman about what his intentions were, this sounds like it was a calculated attack premeditated by a player in his fifth KHL game who, for all intents and purposes, is expendable. Not only should there be a suspension for Kudreman, but there should be a serious fine handed out to Vityaz for this attack on an unsuspecting player. It's garbage hockey, and it's a reason why the KHL is still used as a punch-line for North American hockey players.

While Vityaz wears red and white like his former club, I'm quite certain Cory Emmerton would rather be playing with the Red Wings than sitting in a Russian apartment dealing with concussion symptoms. Kudreman, for however long his suspension will be, won't be missed.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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