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Easing into the KHL
Photo by Alena Schwarz
With the announcement of the National Hockey League lockout on September 15th, many players have found their place in other leagues around the globe. In the case of Alexander Ovechkin, the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) was in his sights. After some debate over if he would sign with his former team, Dynamo Moscow, or neighboring Moscow team, CSKA (run by former Washington Capital teammate, Sergei Fedorov), he ultimately decided on Dynamo.
Wearing his former Superleague number, 32, Ovechkin’s first ever game in the KHL was against Dinamo Minsk on September 20th. With just over seventeen minutes of ice time, Ovechkin recorded one assist in Moscow’s 7-2 win against Minsk. Apart from the game-sheet, fans got to see Ovechkin play as a part of a Russian league for the first time since he came to the NHL in 2005. Ovechkin showed skill and power, with a pair of big hits and some good plays. However, he did miss some scoring chances, which shows his comfort with the NHL style of play and need to ease back into the KHL’s larger ice and different style.
The KHL media focused more of its advertisement on Ovechkin’s second game with the club, against Dynamo’s greatest rival, SKA St. Petersburg (who recently signed New Jersey Devils’ forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a lockout contract). The game was hyped both by media and fans who were excited to see their favorite players duel it out on Russian soil. The game started off with a goal from SKA, which was answered by Ovechkin himself, scoring his first KHL goal just fourteen minutes into the game. Appearing more comfortable than in his first game, Ovechkin recorded 11 shots with almost twenty-four minutes on ice. Unfortunately, Ovechkin’s goal was the only Dynamo goal scored that game, and they later fell 3-1 to SKA.
This is only a small sample of what could be to come of Ovechkin’s KHL career, which, pending CBA talks between the NHL and NHLPA, could span a full season. While we hope this won’t be the case, seeing Ovechkin lighting up the net – no matter where it is – is always a good thing.