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Russian ice hockey player has 2-year doping ban cut

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ZURICH (AP) The International Ice Hockey Federation has slashed a doping ban given to Russian forward Danis Zaripov from two years to six months.

He’s eligible to play again from Thursday.

Zaripov, a Russian Olympian in 2010, was suspended in July for taking the banned substance pseudoephedrine.

However, the IIHF says it has reached a settlement with Zaripov, who filed an appeal. The IIHF agreed to cut the suspension. Since it’s dated from May 23, that means Zaripov will be eligible again on Thursday.

The IIHF says its decision is “based on extensive documentary and expert evidence that was unavailable” this year.

Zaripov has previously told Russian media he was in contact with the St. Louis Blues about a move to the NHL, where his ban isn’t valid.

KHL’s Boris Sadecky fools goaltender with sweet between-the-legs move (Video)

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Boris Sadecky added to the string of recent between-the-legs goals on Wednesday with a stunning effort for HC Slovan of the KHL.

During a 3-2 loss to Lokomotiv, the 20-year-old Sadecky evened the score after dancing around defender Pavel Koledov and then fooling goaltender Alexander Sudnitsin.

That move has been a popular one of late. Josh Bailey of the New York Islanders pulled it off on Saturday versus the San Jose Sharks, while Nottingham Panthers winger Robert Farmer was successful in his attempt earlier this month.

What a helpless feeling for those poor goaltenders.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Iron Mikhail? Keenan may coach Russia in international competition

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Many hockey fans might not realize this, but Mike Keenan is still very much an active professional coach. He’s just doing so in Russia.

If there was any question about his commitment to his second hockey home, consider this: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Keenan is in the process of gaining Russian citizenship, and may just help coach the country at the international level:

The native of Whitby, Ont., is in the process of finalizing his Russian citizenship, as is his long-time assistant, Mike Pelino. Russian officials have been encouraging Keenan do this for some time to show fans he is committed to the team, the KHL and the country. Keenan, who says he has learned enough of the Russian language to get by, is in the final year of his contract but doesn’t sound like he’s in any rush to get out. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Once his Russian citizenship has been approved, there is a good chance the highly decorated coach will return to international competition. If all goes as planned, Keenan could be on the bench, or at least a member of Team Russia’s staff, at future championships, including the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in 2016.

Neat stuff, right?

It’s difficult not to take “learning enough of the Russian language to get by” as “locking down a few phrases he can scream at KHL players,” but credit him for following his passion at 65.

Keenan (pictured on the left) is currently in a very successful run with KHL team Magnitogorsk.

Speaking of familiar faces behind KHL benches, it sounds like Sergei Zubov’s getting a big opportunity with SKA St. Petersburg:

Report: Sergei Kostitsyn nearing an NHL deal

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According to Igor Eronko, Sergei Kostitsyn is close to signing an NHL contract.

It is currently unknown which team Kostitsyn is negotiating with.

The 28-year-old spent the 2014-15 season with Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL, scoring seven goals and 27 points in 49 games.

Originally a seventh-round selection (200th overall) of the Montreal Canadiens, Kostitsyn last played in the NHL during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, scoring three goals and 12 assists with the Nashville Predators.

Kostitsyn was placed on unconditional waivers by the Preds in July 2013 and signed a reported three-year deal with Avangard Omsk of the KHL.

The 6-foot, 207-pound forward has appeared in 353 NHL games with the Canadiens and Predators scoring 67 goals and 176 points.

Report: Rynnas clears waivers, signs in KHL

Jussi Rynnas has officially signed with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL, according to Mark Stepneski.

The goaltender was placed on unconditional waivers by the Dallas Stars last week.

Rynnas signed a two-year, $1.1 million contract with Dallas last summer, but after spending a bulk of the 2014-15 season in the American Hockey League, has decided to return overseas.

The 28-year-old appeared in two games with the Stars going 0-1-0 with a 4.57 G.A.A. and an .841 save percentage.

In 39 AHL games with the Texas Stars Rynnas was a 22-6-8 to go along with a 2.53 G.A.A. and a .920 save percentage.

(Related) Report: Heatley considering offers to play in KHL