Thoughts on Moscow Dynamo's likely demise

With the reality of a highly likely dissolution of the historic Russian hockey team Moscow Dynamo setting in more with each passing day, the stories are starting to pour in. TSN recently spoke with Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesknokov – the person who broke the news – in a feature today. This excerpt gives some perspective on the impact losing Moscow Dynamo would equate to in the NHL.

Although hockey fans in Winnipeg and Quebec City understand the pain of having their team stripped away, neither side had the history or the winning legacy of Dynamo. As in most situations of this ilk, the central issue appears to be money, but as most things are when dealing with the KHL, it may not be that simple.

“Hockey in Russia is not business but is more of a social program,” explained Chesnokov. “People pay between $5 and $20 to see a game. The bulk of the money comes from sponsorships. And Dynamo’s sponsors decided not to invest in the team anymore. Dynamo’s revenues cannot sustain the expenses the team has. As strange as it sounds, the oldest club in Russia does not even have its own arena.”

Assigning “blame” is a bit of a risky proposition.

The question remains as to where does the blame lie for allowing a team with such a rich history to go under? Ovechkin does not feel that the responsibility falls on the shoulders of any one person in particular.

“It’s a hard situation I didn’t talk to the owner or the guys there,” Ovechkin admitted. “If it happens, it’s not going to be one guy’s fault. It’ll be all the people who own Dynamo. They won’t give out any money any more I think.”

Chesnokov feels as though a great deal of responsibility should fall on the league itself.

“The KHL is different from the NHL in that the league does not represent individual clubs, the league doesn’t really have an interest in keeping certain clubs in the league. If a club goes under, so be it. That’s the philosophy.”

Regardless of who (or whom) is to blame, there’s no doubt that a lot of Russian hockey fans will be at a loss if the team does indeed fold (or even if it merges). As Chesnokov says, fans haven’t lost all hope, but right now is bleak. We’ll let you know if an official announcement is made.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.