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August 10, 2002

Foreword to the 2002/2003 Season

Hello to all the readers of my Red Square section at www.HockeyZonePlus.com. I hope you’ve been enjoying my articles since I started being published on this Web site of my Canadian friend at the end of the last millenium.

Russian hockey has progressed immensely and with it your writer in his career as a hockey expert as well. It means the time has come for more prolific and more informative coverage of the Russian/ Soviet hockey. Faithful readers of my section will get much more access to Russian hockey due to some great changes in the destiny of your trusted columnist. Intrigued? Then come with me into the new 2002/03 season.

What new things to expect from the Russian clubs and individuals as a players? What’s attractive in the 2002/03 Russian Hockey Championships an ordinary hockey fan may enjoy?

First of all what makes many hockey experts and Russian hockey officials cheering is the acknowledgement of the fact that Russian Hockey Superleague may be considered the second world’s richest and strongest league after the NHL right now. Some players, here, make nearly $US 1,000,000 tax free per year. Even if they paid 13 per cents taxes from their contract according to the Russian laws they loose not that much compared to the other countries like Sweden, Finland, Germany or Switzerland. The athletes are provided here with all the necessary accommodations for a civilized life like: apartments with many rooms, vehicles, etc… Former NHL players Maxim Sushinsky (Minnesota Wild), Andrey Kovalenko (Boston Bruins), Dmitry Kvartalnov (Boston Bruins), Valery Zelepukin (Chicago Black Hawks), Alexander Semak (New Jersey Devils), Alexander Korolyuk (San Jose Sharks), Sergey Krivokrasov (Anaheim Mighty Ducks) and players of their caliber are the samples of the kind. They all make the Russian league attractive not only for former Soviet NHLers but for foreign players as well.

High quality exports come to Russia from many hockey countries like Czech Republic and Slovakia, Canada and USA in search for good contracts and new experience in their lives. This season the fans in Omsk will enjoy the play of skillful Czech trio Thomas Vlasak-Pavel Patera-Martin Prokhazka under former NHL coach Ivan Hlinka. He is the second Czech coach in the Russian elite league after Vladimir Vujtek who has achieved tremendous success winning the title of Superleague in his Russian debut 2001/02 season with his Yaroslavl Lokomotiv.

Below is given the preliminary list of foreigners in the Russian clubs:

POS

Name

Birthdate

Rus club

 

GK

Christian Bronsard

 

Novosibirsk Sibir

Baton-Rouge (ECHL)

W

Andrej Rajcak

19.10.1971

Novosibirsk Sibir

Zvolen (Slo)

W

Martin Tomasek

02.09.1978

Novosibirsk Sibir

Vitkovice (Cze)

CE

Leos Cermak

13.03.1978

Novosibirsk Sibir

Vitkovice (Cze)

GK

Steven Plouffe

23.11.1975

Spartak Moscow

Amur Khabarovsk

GK

Dusan Salficky

28.03.1972

HC CSKA Moscow

Pardubice (Cze)

D

Miloslav Guren

24.09.1976

HC CSKA Moscow

HC Trinec (Cze)

CE

Michal Straka

 

HC CSKA Moscow

Plzen (Cze)

D

Jan Dlouhi

27.09.1975

Voskresensk Khimik

HC Kladno (Cze)

CE

Ales Zima

 

Voskresensk Khimik

Nitra (Slo)

GK

Andre Racicot

09.06.1969

Voskresensk Khimik

North America

W

Thomas Vlasak

 

Omsk Avangard

Ambri-Piotta (Switz)

CE

Pavel Patera

06.09.1971

Omsk Avangard

Minnesota Wild

RW

Martin Prokhazka

03.03.1972

Omsk Avangard

HC Vitkovice

GK

Marcel Kouzino

 

Cherepovets Severstal

Manchester (AHL)

GK

Jeff Monde

 

Magnitogorsk Metallurg

Providence (AHL)

GK

Alex Westlund

 

Khabarovsk Amur

Milwaukee (AHL)

D

Dave McIsaak

 

Khabarovsk Amur

Hartford (AHL)

D

Jeremmy McCarty

 

Khabarovsk Amur

Lowell (AHL)

W

Radek Beloglav

 

Lada Togliatti

Sparta (Cze)

D

Ladislav Cerny

 

Lada Togliatti

Ceske-Budejovice (Cze)

D

Frantisek Kucera

 

Lada Togliatti

Washington Capitals

D

Rostislav Malena

 

Lada Togliatti

Zvolen (Cze)

D

Stanislav Jasicek

 

Nizhekamsk Neftekhimik

HV-71 (Swe)

CE

Richard Sechny

19.10.1971

Nizhekamsk Neftekhimik

HKM Zvolen (Slo)

W

Peter Slamiar

 

Nizhekamsk Neftekhimik

HKM Zvolen (Slo)

Of course, Russian hockey officials were clever enough to put a strict limit on the foreigners, only 3 athletes can be onto the ice, not to make the situation with the dominance of foreign players over domestic that bad like in German Championships. By preliminary rapid calculation, 26 foreign players should take part in the Russian Hockey Championships. It will be the record for Russian hockey of all the times since the game has been played here!  The general opinion of Russian fans and experts is that it’s useful to bring into the game some abroad experience and make the league more attractive for the hockey lovers but everything should be with measure.

Regarding the regulation for the coming 2002/03 season, all the fans of the game approve the abridgement of the Superleague to 16 clubs, which should make it more competitive. That means that 4 Superleague clubs of 18 will be demoted to the Higher League or in other words to the Division I and only 2 teams will be promoted to the Superleague for the next 2003/04 season according to the final results of the Higher League.

Also Russian clubs will get a sufficient injection of young blood that is good for the national team of the country and NHL clubs. According to the Russian hockey regulation each club of Superleague and Higher League should have five juniors, three under 20 and two under 22 years of age players, onto the roster, though it’s still doubted that all of them will get regularly enough ice time. What should make cheer young players is that they will be well-paid (by Russian living standards) starting this season.  The minimum monthly salary of young Superleague player will be 1,000 US $. In Higher league minimum amount of payment is 3,000 Russian roubles, in other words it’s 100 US $. What a great stimulus to polish one’s hockey skillfulness to get ten times bigger money in the Superleague. Not bad for young guns! Have a look at the list of the prospects from the last under-18 WJC in Slovakia and you’ll understand that the program works pretty good so far.

POS

Name

Birthdate

Rus club

Draft

D

Babchuk Anton

5.6.84

Kazan AkBars

Chicago Black Hawks

CE

Shevyev Maxim

7.5.84

Kazan AkBars

Buffalo Sabres

LW

Semin Alexander

3.3.84

Togliatti Lada

Washington Capitals

D

Grot Denis

1.6.84

Yaroslavl Lokomotiv

Vancouver Canucks

D

Stonkus Alexey

6.06.84

Yaroslavl Lokomotiv

NY Islanders

D

Shinin Alexander

1.07.84

Cherepovets Severstal

Draft Eligible

CE

Tunik Yevgeny

11.17.84

Spartak Moscow

Draft Eligible

LW

Anshakov Sergey

1.13.84

HC CSKA

Los Angeles Kings

CE

Zherdev Nickolay

11.05.84

HC CSKA

Draft Eligible

RW

Shkotov Alexey

6.22.84

HC CSKA

St. Louis Blues

W

Ovechkin Alexander

09.17.85

Dynamo Moscow

Draft Eligible for 02/03

D

Yezhov Denis

2.28.85

Togliatti Lada

Draft Eligible

This coming season should be one of the most interesting in the history of Russian hockey because all the clubs have done an immense amount of work at the pre-season training camps selecting this or that player for the club. Summing up everything already told above I want to tell that the rosters of Yaroslavl, Kazan, Omsk, Togliatti and Dynamo Moscow are luring by the names of its players but the magic of the names often plays bad tricks on the teams… So let’s wait for the start of the season and see how well the clubs are in fact.

Russian league Rules:

bulletSeptember 9:  Deadline for new players’ application
bulletSeptember 11: Start of regular season
bulletNovember 4-11: Window for new players’ application
bulletDecember 23- January 2: Window for new players’ application
bulletJanuary 11: End of the 1st regular season’s stage
bulletJanuary 14: Start of the 2nd regular season’s stage
bulletMarch 15: End of the regular season
bulletMarch:  Playoffs begin
bulletApril 8: End of playoffs

  Denis Neznanov
HockeyZonePlus' Russian Correspondent

 

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