Gonchar thinks some Russian stars might not return to NHL

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Sergei Gonchar will play for the Ottawa Senators when this lockout ends. As for his fellow Russian-born players, he’s not so sure. He thinks some of them might end up staying in the KHL, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

“If the guys feel like it’s not fair what’s on the table, they might ask [NHLPA executive director] Don [Fehr] to put something in the new CBA to allow them to stay back home,” Gonchar said. “I mean, why not? We don’t know where it’s going with that new CBA. Everything is possible. That’s why I think there is a chance that a guy like Alex might stay back home.”

Gonchar is of course referring to Alex Ovechkin, who has already threatened to stay in the KHL if his NHL salary gets cut.

Ovechkin would be leaving a lot of money on the table if he did that. He’s completed just four seasons out of his 13-year, $124 million contract with the Washington Capitals.

It’s also worth noting that the KHL and NHL have agreed to respect both leagues’ contracts and KHL vice-president Ilya Kochevrin recently insisted that the KHL would continue to honor.

At the end of the day, as LeBrun speculated, this might just be a tactic that the players are using to put pressure on the NHL to make a deal.

Still, Gonchar feels that the KHL has improved and once his current contract with the Ottawa Senators expires this summer, he won’t completely dismiss the possibility of heading back to the KHL at the age of 39.