Published on September 13th, 2012 | by James Conley0
Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar to Join KHL Magnitogorsk Sunday
Image franky1st @ flickr
The NHL should be embarrassed. But they’ll only be closed for business. It’s for that reason that reigning league MVP Evgeni Malkin will join former Penguins teammate and fellow Russian Sergei Gonchar in playing for the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk this Sunday, the day after the current CBA expires and the lockout will presumably go into effect.
That Malkin will join another organization just months after staking his claim as the world’s best player is what is most embarrassing for both the NHL and NHLPA.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Malkin and Gonchar are likely to join their former KHL club once the lockout becomes official.
“If, as most expect, there is a lockout annnounced Saturday, expect Malkin and Gonchar to be ready to play in Magnitigorsk on Sunday,” Dreger said via Twitter.
Malkin’s plans are no revelation, and Dreger’s note confirms what Malkin himself has already said. In late August, Malkin spoke with Russian sports outlet SovSport regarding the potential lockout and his plans in case of one.
“It’s been said a hundred times that the lockout hasn’t been announced,” Malkin said. “Why make any statements for nothing? Yes, I have an agreement — I will play for [Metallurg] Magnitogorsk. But I have not signed a contract.”
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Gonchar, who played with Malkin in Magnitogorsk in 2004-05 and whom Malkin personally thanked as part of his Hart Trophy acceptance speech, will join his former Pens teammate. The Ottawa defenseman would begin the final season of a 3-year contract this October.
Malkin and Gonchar are among the NHL’s better players, which is perhaps why they’ll be able to migrate to the European league. The KHL has made public recent amendments to its rights agreements with regards to signing players currently under NHL contract, and the qualifications for transfer are intense.
The document comes into effect in the event of the NHL officially announcing the lock-out and would remain in force until the NHL officially declares the lock-out to be over. The amendment will cover players with existing NHL contracts, excluding those with two-way NHL contracts who are consigned by their clubs to lower league teams for the duration of the lockout.
Among the desired qualifications? Individual accolades (like a scoring title), international success with an Olympic or Junior team or prior KHL experience. KHL teams are also limited to signing six NHL players during a lockout.
Malkin has previously stated that he will play on weekly contracts, allowing him to return to the NHL as soon as a lockout is lifted, but a provision of the KHL amendment says all NHL transfer contracts must be signed through the end of the 2012-13 KHL season and are subject to termination as soon as a lockout is lifted.
Given the tenor of negotiations (or the lack thereof) in recent weeks, Malkin appears to be heading home for awhile.