THE MORNING SKATE — KHL President’s Strong Statement, Schedule Rumors

Kevin Schultz

It’s another day and that means it’s time for another round of As the KHL Turns, starring Ilya Kovalchuk, Lubomir Visnovsky and KHL President Alexander Medvedev. When we last left them yesterday, Kovalchuk was playing coy about whether or not he would stay in Russia, Visnovsky wanted to stay, and Medvedev’s League was saying it would honor NHL contracts and boot players back across the Atlantic. Then Medvedev apparently got on his soapbox and told Slava Malamud from Sport-Express in Russia the following:

“NHL’s opinion of itself is so high… OK, let them get drunk on their greatness. We’ll see how many Euros look our way… Our league will act according to our own and international rules. If players decide to stay, we will help them… [Not going to Sochi] will be a big financial loss for NHL.. If they decide differently, that’s their problem.”

So, that’s something a little different. We’ll see if the KHL’s actions follow Medvedev’s words or not. I’ve thought all along the KHL wouldn’t start a war over just Visnovsky, but now that Kovalchuk is in limbo and then this shot-across-the-bow from Medvedev, maybe a war is just what they want.

Visnovsky’s agent, on the other hand, says his client would report to the Island ‘if he had to.’ We’ll see if he has to. It’s getting really interesting and this certainly isn’t over yet.

SO, CAN WE START THIS THING ALREADY?
Nothing is confirmed in regards to the League’s schedule this year, but it’s sounding more and more like it will be 48 games starting on January 19th, with camps opening on the 13th. Bob McKenzie tweeted that teams will likely play in-conference games only; 4 games against two divisional rivals, 5 games against two other divisional rivals and 3 games each against the other 10 teams in the conference. Good luck to the Winnipeg Jets and the travel nightmare this creates for them.

TO STROME OR NOT TO STROME?
Just like the schedule, nothing is finalized yet but Bob McKezine (who else) tweets that the NHL will set a five game limit on junior players playing in the NHL this season. So, if someone like Ryan Strome plays more than five games in the NHL this year, it will count as a full year of his contract. If he plays less, the team can send the player back to juniors without losing a year on the contract. Decisions, decisions.

(Update: Arthur Staple reports that Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart will be at Isles camp).