Alex Ovechkin exposes corruption in Russian hockey during candid interview

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Alexovechsaycheese.jpgBelieve it or not, interview translations aren’t useful solely for generating arguments about plagiarism.

Take, for instance, Dmitry Chesnokov’s translation of a surprisingly candid Alex Ovechkin interview from sports.ru. While there is plenty of intriguing stuff about Ovechkin finding his shot (his father made him aim his shot at “a certain number of cans” before he could socialize with buddies) and how he feels about the playoffs, it’s the stuff about Russian hockey that could very well make waves.

I’ll start with the most eyebrow-raising fodder in which Ovechkin details the allegedly bribe-driven world of Russian hockey.

“When I was young, there were no people who came up and said: ‘Here’s the money for you, play my son, let him play and enjoy. And then we’ll see.’ This is the worst. It’s in the clubs, in national teams — it’s the same everywhere. And when I started playing for the national team, it was happening. Two, three people were there who “had a pull.” But now there are more of them. Unfortunately, in Russia money decides everything.”

In Russia money decides everything? Well, at least Ronald Reagan would be proud. (Too soon?)

Ovechkin also makes little doubt that, despite some considerable progress, the NHL is still the league of dreams rather than the KHL.

“Of course, to play in the NHL is a dream. You can go to any youth sports school and ask those who train there — everyone will say that they dream of the NHL. There cannot even be a talk about comparing the two leagues. The KHL right now is moving in the right direction, raising up a little, but there is no point to compare the leagues. Let them call me names, call me a traitor, but this is true.”

If these interviews are any indication, many European hockey players have a lot more to say that the language barrier will allow (or they just don’t want to provide “bulletin board” material, either). He might take a little heat for the comments back home, but kudos to Ovechkin for speaking his mind. It’s a great – and unfortunately rare – thing to see.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.