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The Lockout Over, NHL Players Return from Russia

11. January 2013 by Lorena 0 Comments

At 5 am last Sunday, the National Hockey League finally reached an agreement with players that will last until 2020. After a 113 day lockout, an abbreviated season could finally begin as soon as January 15th.  While both sides have yet to ratify the new agreement, players who left the states to play in Europe during the break are beginning to return.


As soon as the lockout started, the Kontinental Hockey League prepared to give award-winning NHL players a home. Players have gone to Europe to play during previous lockouts so they can stay in shape for the NHL season, when it begins. During the 2004-05 lockout, about 400 players went overseas to play. This time, 186 players went overseas, 38 of those to teams in the KHL, including three – Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ruslan Fedotenko and Anton Babchuk – who played for Donetsk, Ukraine’s HC Donbass. 


Under the KHL agreement, NHL players could end their contracts if the NHL lockout ended. Each KHL team could take no more than three NHL players, and their salaries would be capped at 65% what they earned in the states. And, reports indicate that players are now ready to go home and start the NHL season.


For some, the move will be hard. Evgeni Malkin returned to play for his Russian hometown’s team, and has had a stunningly good KHL season that included 42 assists, 23 goals and 65 points. He’ll be returning to continue his contract with the Penguins. He told Russia Times, “I'm used to the team and my hometown. At Metallurg, I did everything I could, trying to help the team. I think I played really well. But nothing depends on me now. The lockout is over and I have a deal with Pittsburgh.”


While many of those players have contracts with teams in the US, others are free agents. Fierce bidding is expected to start soon to determine where those players will wind up.