Photo: 1995hoo/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0
Last week, while doing a conference call with some Washington reporters, Alex Ovechkin suggested that if a rollback is included in the next CBA deal, he would consider staying in Russia to play.
"I said it before, before I sign contract, if the league decide to cut our salaries and cut our contracts for what they want, I don’t know how many guys will be coming back," Ovechkin said during the call with the Washington Times and Washington Post on Wednesday.
"We signed contracts before and why they have to cut our salaries and our contracts right now? They sign us. [Now they] want to cut it, I think it’s a stupid idea and a stupid decision by the NHL, [commissioner Gary] Bettman and the guys who work there."
Tough talk. I get it. He isn’t thrilled with the idea of a rollback. The last CBA included a twenty four percent rollback. That was a kick in the crown royal bag. But you know what? I don’t remember one player who already had a contract saying ‘forget it! I am out of here. I am going to play in Europe.’ And it won’t happen this time.
Could players make more money playing in Europe? For sure. The KHL seems to have very deep pockets and will pay for top players. Often a player who was making X here minus taxes can make that same X without taxes, all cash in Europe. Doesn’t take an accountant to figure out how much more take home that is.
There are some other perks, (I won’t get into some of the negatives). Less games, national team breaks, less physical and if you are European it is closer to home. All those look pretty good to me, so sure Ovie, I get what you are saying. But, you are forgetting one thing.
The best players are all in the NHL. I think the best players like to play and prove themselves against other top players. That is how you create a reputation and legacy for yourself. Winning Norris trophies, Hart trophies and Stanley Cups put a player on the map for world-wide hockey.
Can someone tell me who won the KHL league championship last year? Who was the league’s MVP in 2008? What goalie had the top goals against average in 2010? Unless you are from Russia or a huge fan of European hockey here in North America you don’t know the answer.
2008-09 KHL MVP Danis Zaripov (Photo: Акутагава/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)
However, you ask any hockey fan, from North America, Finland, Russia, Sweden, etc., who won the Stanley Cup last year? Who won Hart Trophy in 2008 or the top goalie in 2010? They will all have an answer.
To be considered the best you have to play in the best league in the world. That is why the top players in the world come to play in the NHL, MLB and NBA. That is why many CFL players take a run at the NFL each spring.
Top athletes are skilled at their sport and very competitive. That competitiveness is what has pushed them to the top of their sport and urges them to seek out the best competition.
Ovie, I get you are frustrated with the NHL CBA negotiations but I believe yours is an empty threat. If you want to be considered one of the greats to have played in the NHL you have no choice but to stay. If you decide you are to upset by whatever the new CBA looks like and want to stay in the KHL. No problem. There are other young guys coming to take your spot. They will take a run at the best league in the world.
I get asked all the time if I think the Oilers should be worried that Nail Yakupov is now playing in the KHL. They wonder if I think he will stay there. I think it is a good move because he is playing against men in the KHL rather than boys in the OHL. This will get him more prepared to compete against NHL players.
Do I think he will stay there? No way! From what I have seen from Nail he wants to prove himself against the best. The best is here in the NHL.
Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer
On Saturday I took part in the Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer event that was put on next to the Northland Horse track. What a great day! Jason Gregor put our team together and we had a great time.
Our goalie, Caesar, was outstanding after the first game. Not going to lie, Caesar, I thought I was going to have to block every shot to win but then in the second game you turned into a stud! Great job!
Next year their goal is to have one hundred teams compete, this year there were sixty. Gregor and I will let you know about next year’s event very early so you can all put together a team.
Huge high five to my man Gregor, outside of Caesar he was our MVP. He nearly had a hat trick in one shift! Pretty impressive.