Dec 31, 2020
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Return of Kovalchuk. How Russian hockey stars dropped the NHL for a home

Just think, Russian hockey player Ilya Kovalchuk for the third time he returns to Russia from the NHL. And, it seems, the last, since the hockey player is already 37 years old and will not be taken back to America at that age. Especially after the failure in the last two teams.

Ilya Kovalchuk

The last three years after leaving SKA in 2018, Ilya Kovalchuk played in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings, the Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals. His dream of winning the Stanley Cup never came true. And now it is difficult to imagine that after at least a year (the contract was signed according to the 1 + 1 scheme) in Avangard, the 38-year-old striker will be able to return to the NHL and get into the team that will compete for the main overseas trophy.

In Avangard, Kovalchuk immediately received the status of captain and is ready to enter the site.

“I did not think about returning to Russia for a long time: I received an offer from Omsk, consulted with my family and said yes. I was waiting for proposals from specific NHL teams, but you can see what the situation is in the world. I had to wait. I decided that I needed to keep playing, we finished the season long ago. A big break at my age is not entirely correct. The most important thing for me is to be myself. We have two captains in our team, we will alternate with Emelin. But it doesn’t really matter who has which patch, everyone should give one hundred percent and do their job. There are 20 matches left before the playoffs, we need to rally and show our best game, ”Ilya Kovalchuk said at a press conference.

Time will tell how correct this transition was both for Kovalchuk himself and for Avangard.

Darius Kasparaitis

After over a decade of overseas career, powerful defender Darius Kasparaitis in 2007 he decided to return to Russia. SKA wanted to see him very much. Petersburgers made an offer – and the hockey player agreed, signing a contract for two seasons.

But Darius was unable to fully adapt to the new conditions. He, of course, did not spoil the general picture, but he did not become a leader either, although this was exactly what was expected of him. For two years in the St. Petersburg club, the defender spent 59 matches and scored 6 points, which is very, very modest for a hockey player of this level. After leaving SKA, he decided to end his career.

Evgeny Nabokov

A similar story happened to another star player: Evgeny Nabokov… After ten years of playing for the San Jose Sharks, where he became a real legend, Nabokov agreed to the offer of the same SKA in 2010. Petersburgers have spared no money for a cool goalkeeper, having concluded an agreement with Nabokov for four years.

However, the Russian goalkeeper lasted only a couple of months in the team, having managed to play in 22 games during this time. In them, he missed a nightmare 62 goals, having played with zero in only two matches. After that, by mutual agreement with the goalkeeper, the contract was terminated, and for the press they came up with the wording “for family reasons”. Nabokov was quick to return to the NHL, where he played for two more clubs: the New York Islanders and Tampa.

Vadim Shipachev

History Vadima Shipacheva slightly different from those described above. If his predecessors had tremendous experience of playing in the NHL, then the career of the former SKA striker was limited to only … three matches for the Vegas Golden Knights. And in one, he managed to throw the winning goal of his team.

However, further events for Vadim did not develop according to the script. After three matches it was decided to send him to the Vegas farm club, but the player refused to be sent to the second team. He was disqualified, and later tore off his contract altogether, with a ban on ever returning to the NHL.

Vadim had no choice but to return to the same club from which he recently left: SKA. But at the end of the season, he moved to Dynamo, for which he has been playing brilliantly for the third season, being the team captain, the top scorer and the highest paid KHL hockey player with a salary of 120 million rubles a year.

Alexander Semin

The two-time world champion with the Russian national team had a generally good career in the NHL, playing for Washington, where he was a partner Alexandra Ovechkina by link. But after moving to Carolina, things did not go well, and in the end he decided to pursue a career in Russia. He was invited by Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2015.

In the first season after returning Semin helped Magnitogorsk to win the Gagarin Cup, and he himself scored 15 points in the playoffs of the tournament. The case when the move to Russia fully justified itself.

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