The plethora of recent rumors surrounding possible movement by Capitals players to the KHL has, by rounds, elicited a broad spectrum of emotions in Capitals fans, from overbearing anguish all the way to giddy yearning. However, there have been some interesting activities in the KHL this week which may have a direct bearing on the available possibilities for the first Capital to be caught up in the KHL rumor mill, Donald Brashear.
It's hard to believe that it was over a month ago that we first ran a story on the Russian league's interest in The Donald, but in actuality this was the continuation of some rumblings which were first sensed by Slava Malamud back in March. Love him or hate him, a common response to the possibility of an overseas transfer for our tough-guy was that it all made sense, given a lessening need for Donald's role on the team and his well-known desire to learn to speak Russian. And while nothing has yet to be decided concretely, Donald himself recently admitted that "... at my age and where I'm at, money is the most important"
Throughout the different iterations of the trade rumors, one detail that has stayed constant is that the KHL team most interested in Donald is a scrappy little team from south of Moscow called Vityaz ("Knights"), known more for their boisterous style of play than their ability to actually win championships. While this may seem like the perfect place for Donald to continue his pugilistic style of hockey, I certainly hope he or his agent have been paying attention to what is going on with Vityaz this week.
If you weren't diligent, you may have missed this little news blurb this past Wednesday on the NY Times Slapshot Blog:
"K.H.L. vice president Vladimir Shalaev gives five clubs until midnight Friday to sort out their finances or face suspension from the league. Khimik Voskresensk, Vityaz Chekhov, HK MVD Balashikha, Metallurg Novokuznetsk and Sibir Novosibirsk. The teams, in financial trouble, can appeal any adverse decision as late as June 12."
Then, according to a press release recently posted on the KHL website, as of Friday evening Khimik and Vityaz had not provided the required financial plans for the upcoming season and were in arrears for player and coaching staff salaries. It went on to say that both teams have until the League's Board of Directors meeting in June to rectify the situation, and that the topic of that Board meeting will be the question of any further participation of Khimik and Vityaz in the KHL. Furthermore, neither team will be allowed to participate in this year's Juniors Draft on June 1. According to an interview in today's Sovietsky Sport, League VP Vladimir Shalaev said while the Board meeting will be held sometime in June, he doesn't know the exact date, since that will be determined by Board Chairman Vyacheslav Fetisov. He did state, however, that "We consider Sibir, Metallur Novokuznetsk and HC MVD fully paid up."
As an aside, it should be noted that in that same Sovietsky Sport article, Khimik VP and GM Andrei Komendantov expressed his doubts about the situation:
"You know, I was in the KHL offices on Wednesday. I was called in along with all five debtor clubs. But by Friday evening there were now only two. Can it really be that three of the five clubs were able to able to fully cover their debts in two days? I find that hard to believe"
As for Vityaz, the Sovietsky Sport article ended with this postscript:
"Sovietsky Sport has learned that a meeting took place on Thursday between Vityaz GM Alexei Zhamnov and KHL president Alexander Medvedev. The head of the Chekov club requested a deferment for payment of the player and coaches past-due salaries for February, March and April. They guaranteed to pay 60% of the amount by the end of May and the remaining 40% by June 30. The Chekov club also sent an official letter with a repayment schedule to the KHL."
So, Donald, if your future plans do include a move to the Continental league, you may want to consider requesting payment in advance.