Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar join KHL team as lockout looms
Magnitogorsk, Russian Federation (4E Sports) – Anticipating a possible lockout, two NHL players have moved to Russia to play in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Center Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and blueliner Sergei Gonchar of the Ottawa Senators practiced with Magnitogorsk and they are expected to play a game with the team Thursday.
Malkin scored 50 goals last season and had a league-leading 109 total points while Gonchar had 37 points for the Senators.
Malkin’s move came as no surprise since he earlier announced that he would return to KHL if a lockout happens.
A lockout is now inevitable after Saturday’s deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement passed without a new deal being reached between the league and the players.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he has received a green light from the board of governors to lock out players if a new labor deal was not be reached.
In preparation for the influx of locked out players, the KHL has released guidelines, saying “that only top-level foreign players can come to play” in Russia.
In an earlier interview, Malkin said teammate Sidney Crosby could join him in Russia in case of a lockout.
“If the lockout is announced for the entire season, then Crosby may come. He loves to play and won’t be able to live an entire year without hockey,” said Malkin, adding that several other teammates are also interested in playing in the KHL.
Crosby recently agreed to a 12-year, $104.4 million contract extension with the Penguins, keeping the high-scoring center through the 2024-25 season.
In 434 career games, Crosby has tallied 223 goals and 386 assists for 609 points. He also has 90 points in 68 playoff games.