In New Russian Pro League, Puck Plays You!

Much to the chagrin of the NHL, the restoration of a professional hockey league in Russia is posed to present plenty of challenges to the NHL’s stranglehold over the world’s most talented players. The upstart Kontinental Hockey League will be attempting to lure the region’s biggest stars back home to play by throwing obscene amounts of money and incentives at players. Number one on the Russian league’s hitlist is reportedly Evgeni Malkin, who apparently is set to receive a multi-year contract from the KHL for a mind-blowing $12.5 million per year.

Not so fast, comrades. According to Malkin’s agent, J.P. Barry, Malkin has no intention to sign a contract with the KHL. Said Barry:

“That’s not what he’s interested in doing. If this was all about money, he would go to Russia, because he could make more in Russia than he ever could in the NHL. Evgeni’s decision is he wants to stay in Pittsburgh.”

The International Ice Hockey Federation has also warned that severe sanctions could be imposed on any league that attempts to lure players away from another league while a player is under contract, which Malkin is until next year.

So, more than likely, this will all end up to be much ado about nothing. The NHL will carry on as the prime location for the globe’s premiere players to showcase their skills, with an occasional pro defecting to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (take my Pronger, please!). Everyone ends up happy.

The question remains, if and when the KHL attempts to ensnare a marquee player into abandoning the NHL to play in Russia, where is the money coming from? I haven’t read anywhere that the KHL will be bankrolled by Roman Abramovich, nor will any owners of the respective teams carry his financial clout.

Also, what will be expected of these players, in addition to playing hockey, once they return to the Motherland?

If these pampered athletes think they are going to be able to just show up at the rink, lollygag around during the morning skate and play games at night, they have another thing coming. Along with their hockey-related duties, players will be expected to perform the following:

  • during All-Star Weekend, all players not voted an All-Star will get an all-expenses-paid one-week spa retreat to Pripyat, Ukraine. In addition to the complimentary “chemical peels”, players will spend one day working on the New Safe Confinement Structure at Chernobyl
  • during the offseason, each player is required to serve a two week term in Vladmir Putin’s security detail (may or may not include politically-motivated assassination attempts)
  • perform as extras in the Bolshoy Theatre’s long-running smash Ivan Drago: The Musical
  • somehow convince classic ’70’s rock group Deep Purple to become Putin protégé Dmitry Medvedev’s personal house band

Now those responsibilities may seem a tad much, but take a look at the incentives:

  • all the potatoes they can eat
  • every cheat code for any Russian-related video game, including Grand Theft Auto IV
  • each player will at some point have a cameo in the comic Black Lagoon  Manga series as a member of the Russian Mafia crime syndicate Hotel Moscow
  • the choice of any Russian mail-order bride before they hit Craigslist
  • lifetime supply of vodka
  • did I mention potatoes?

All in all, it may not be the greatest of situations after becoming accustomed to the lavish life found in North America, but it ain’t all that bad.

Did I mention the possibility of playing with Chris Simon? Huzzah!



  1. Actually, many players say that they very much like playing with Chris Simon. Playing against him, on the other hand….

  2. I am proud to share a state with this giant in the comic pantheon:

  3. I think that sweater just made schoolchildren have seizures

  4. That sweater is a Candyland explosion.

  5. Heh…you said “puck”.

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