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Russia | NHL General Managers Worried and Uncomfortable

“Is that confirmed…?” »

Posted yesterday at 7:05 p.m.

Simon Olivier Lorange

Simon Olivier Lorange
The Press

The pale face, Chuck Fletcher, general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, could not help asking the question to a journalist. This one had however, quite simply, to ask him if he had discussed with Bill Guerin, his Minnesota counterpart.

Fletcher and Guerin can indeed sympathize. The news Fletcher feared might be confirmed was that Wild star striker Kirill Kaprizov was actively wanted by Russian authorities after he allegedly purchased a “military ID card” in 2017 to withdraw from compulsory military service.

All day, the mystery hovered: was Kaprizov still in Russia? Was he on his way to North America instead? Michael Russo, from The Athletic, followed the case step by step. Guerin finally confirmed to him that his player was still in his native country. The general manager was still trying to gather as much information as possible on this subject, but was “not too worried”.

If Fletcher was interested in the case so closely, it is because one of his own players is stuck in an even worse quagmire. Goaltender Ivan Fedotov, the Flyers’ seventh-round pick in 2015, was arrested in Russia last week on the same pretext as Kaprizov. He has since been sent to a military naval camp.

PHOTO MATT SLOCUM, ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES

Ivan Fedotov

On the eve of the NHL draft, and when all the leaders of the circuit have already converged on Montreal, Russia was at the center of many conversations, Wednesday, at the end of the meeting of general managers.

With Fedotov’s arrest, and given the arrest warrant issued against Kaprizov, teams can legitimately wonder if their players returning to their home countries for the summer will be able to join their respective teams at the end of the summer.

“This is a situation beyond our control,” said Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland. To his knowledge, defenseman Dmitri Samorukov and his wife are currently in Edmonton. He didn’t know, however, which side of the Pacific is on 2021 sixth-round pick Matvei Petrov, who played last season in the Ontario Junior League.

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Ken Holland, Edmonton Oilers general manager

Vancouver Canucks GM Patrik Allvin didn’t seem particularly worried about Vasily Podkolzin and Andrei Kuzmenko, both in Russia for the summer. “I expect them to return sometime in August or early September as planned,” he said.

Kent Hughes of the Canadiens said defender Alexander Romanov was due to return to Montreal on Wednesday or Thursday. “I was told that everything was under control, but for sure everything will be more under control when he is in North America, commented the boss of the Habs. I haven’t been given a reason to be worried. »

Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders said he was optimistic that his players would make “decisions in their best interests”. Jim Nill, of the Dallas Stars, made the same speech, mentioning that Denis Gurianov was just there. The young Artem Grushnikov, who also played in Ontario last season, remains however in North America “for the moment”.

“It’s their country, they know what they can and can’t do, it’s their decision. Denis didn’t have a problem,” Nill explained.

The Russian question could of course be included in the lists of hopes that the teams draw up. But, recalled Kevyn Adams, of the Buffalo Sabers, “we don’t draft based on next year. We don’t know what the world will look like in three years.”

Faintness

While some general managers are light-hearted, the feeling is not unanimous.

Fletcher cautiously indicated that “every situation is unique” and that the NHL has not given specific instructions on this subject. “You would have to ask Gary or Bill,” he breathed, referring to Gary Bettman and Bill Daly, circuit commissioner and assistant circuit commissioner, respectively.

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

Bettman, however, declined to answer a question from The Press on this subject. “It’s the CEOs who are talking today,” he said. The commissioner will address the media this Thursday as part of a joint press briefing with the Players Association, on a completely different subject.

Kevin Cheveldayoff, of the Winnipeg Jets, took refuge behind a refusal to comment on “individual cases”.

Pierre Dorion, of the Ottawa Senators, also seemed annoyed by the Russian affair. Two of its main defenders, Nikita Zaitsev and Artem Zub, were born in the country of Kim Yaroshevskaya.

When The Press asked him if he was worried, Dorion marked a long silence. He recalled that it was not up to him to decide, during the off-season, the whereabouts of his players. In all honesty, “I have no idea where they are,” he confessed. Before adding: “I have a good idea of ​​what they are doing, but it is not for me to discuss that. »

The discussion is not nearly over yet, one can assume.

With the collaboration of Guillaume Lefrançois, The Press

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