If the NHL gets what it wants -- or even anything close -- when the dust finally settles on labor negotiations, Washington's Alex Ovechkin this week fired a shot over the league's bow on the day he signed to play in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.
In a conference call with the Washington Post and Washington Times, Ovechkin said that if a new NHL collective bargaining agreement includes dramatic rollbacks in existing salaries, some players -- including himself -- might not return.
"I said it before, before I sign contract, that if the league decides to cut our salaries, cut our contracts for what they want, I don't know how many guys are coming back," Ovechkin said. "We sign contract before. Why they have to cut our salary and our contracts right now? They sign us. Now they want to cut it. I think it's a stupid idea and stupid decision by NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman and the guys who work there."
Ovechkin, 27, signed a one-year deal with the KHL's Dynamo Moscow that is believed to be worth roughly $6 million.
"If our contracts get slashed, I will have to think whether to return there or not. I won't rule out staying in the KHL, even past this season," he said.
Nine years and $88 million remain on Ovechkin's contract with the Capitals, and while he can play elsewhere during the lockout, he is obligated to return once the NHL season resumes.
The NHL fined Detroit for comments made by senior vice president Jim Devellano in an interview about the lockout. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement that the league and team agree Devellano's comments were not appropriate, authorized or permitted under NHL bylaws.
Many Tampa Bay players still had their team-issued practice gear for informal workouts this week. But to show their support of the union, they wore them inside out. "We're united," Sami Salo said. "We're standing together."
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had an assist but was stopped on his shootout attempt as Metallurg Magnitogorsk lost to Ak Bar Kazan, 2-1. Former Penguins Aleksey Morozov scored the winning shootout goal. Malkin, who is playing in the KHL during the NHL lockout, has an assist in each of his two games. ... Playing in Europe or Russia doesn't come without a cost. According to an underwriter whose New Jersey company insured about 75 players who played in Europe during the 2004-05 lockout, it costs $10,000 to $25,000 per $1 million in NHL contract money to insure the players. The younger the player, the smaller the injury risk -- and the cheaper the insurance, said Chris Lack, an underwriter with Exceptional Risk Advisors of Mahwah, N.J. Lack said his company has insured about 10 players during this year's lockout and has "given about 100 quotes." The NHLPA is cautioning its members that teams can suspend them or walk away from contracts if they are injured in Europe because they would be considered "damaged goods."