In recent years, there have been several cases when the KHL has become a haven for hockey players who have faced serious problems in North America. In 2020, Brendan Leipsic moved into it, and Reed Boucher did the same in the same year. A year later, Jake Virtanen joined Spartak. Now Alex Galchenyuk followed the same route.
In July, an American with Belarusian roots was arrested in Scottsdale. The athlete was charged with a number of charges, including assault on private property, hooliganism, disobedience to arrest and threats, and a week later his contract with Arizona was terminated. He was subsequently acquitted on five counts out of six and sentenced to 30 days in prison, one of which he had already been counted as served, and another 27 were decided to be canceled after the successful completion of the program for recovery from alcoholism and 12 months without drinking. However, this did not stop Galchenyuk, who by this time was determined to leave North America.
At this time, the media was already actively discussing Galchenyuk's move to the KHL. A number of clubs were interested in signing the third pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, including Spartak, Salavat Yulaev, Dynamo Moscow and Minsk, Avangard and Metallurg. However, the striker himself opted for SKA. This was announced by the head coach of St. Petersburg Roman Rotenberg at a press conference after the match with Sibir at the Puchkov tournament. By the way, Alex himself also attended that event.
"We have signed an agreement for two years. He fully fits our system both in terms of human qualities and as a player. Alex, welcome," said the specialist.
According to the striker himself, he was very happy to move to St. Petersburg and spoke highly of the local team. According to him, "everything here is at the highest level, from the city to the coach."
"The most important thing is to achieve a trophy with the team. I respect other clubs and cities. But I dreamed of being here. Competition is always good, we will push each other and help each other reach a new level, there is no way without it. I talk to my parents in Russian, but I haven't given an interview for a long time. But never mind, the language will improve. I'm looking forward to getting on the ice. I want to feel the atmosphere, "Match TV quotes Galchenyuk.
The American is able to play both in the center and on the left flank and has every chance of becoming one of the key performers of SKA. Especially in light of the departure of Dmitry Yashkin and Nikita Gusev, who were responsible for creativity. Yes, in the NHL, he could not live up to expectations and in his best season he "shot" 56 (30 + 26) points in 82 games for Montreal, and spent the last year mainly in the AHL, where he scored an average point per game for the Colorado Eagles (16 + 26 in 42). But he did not lose his skills in possession of the puck and skating.
"I don't understand when it's called bad. No one knows what he had there with the police. And you can't judge by the media alone. My impression is that he is a hard-working guy, always training, responsible, playing well. I have a good opinion of Galchenyuk," said CSKA defender Nikita Nesterov.
Mikhail Maltsev, a former SKA forward who now defends the colors of the Los Angeles Kings, also spoke positively about him. He urged not to hang labels on Galchenyuk and admitted that he was very pleased to perform with him.
"I don't know what happened in that situation with the accident and the police, but Gulch became a good friend of mine during his time at the Eagles, we often lived on the road, talked. It's not for me to make excuses, but I want to talk about the other side that I know. Alex is a real pro, as they say - the leader of the team, the leader of the locker room. He did a lot for the atmosphere, communicated with newcomers, pulled them up. At work, he is also a leader. I think I plowed the most. Always all exercises are for maximum return. His goal is to return to the NHL, he was going for it. The kid is cool and funny, and in the top three with him we always played hockey, not plowed. This is my view for the sake of completeness," the athlete wrote in the Telegram channel.
Exchanges of Prokhorkin and Podyapolsky
At the moment, Galchenyuk's salary at SKA is unknown, but it is unlikely to be modest. Consequently, its signing could not but be associated with parting with some other performers. Even before the invitation of the American, St. Petersburg did not fit into the KHL salary limit, and after that their situation became even more difficult. Perhaps this is the reason for the exchanges of Nikolai Prokhorkin and Vladislav Podyapolsky. The forward was sent to Sochi, and the goalkeeper to Lada. Later, Nikita Komarov also moved to the south, in exchange for which the rights to NHL player Dominic Cahoon were obtained.
In the current situation, Podyapolsky's departure looks more than logical. SKA already had a promising Dmitry Nikolaev, and in the summer it was strengthened by Johan Matsson, as a result of which Vladislav practically lost his chances of getting into the start. Although his numbers did not allow him to count on it in the last championship. In the regular season, he conceded an average of 2.66 goals per game and reflected 90% of shots, and in the playoffs, the save percentage dropped to 86.7%. Taking into account the ambitions of the army men, it was not necessary to believe in the continuation of their cooperation.
"We have a lot of changes in the squad. We thank Vlad for his work. He did his best, helped us in the playoffs last season. We wish him the best of luck in his future career. There is competition, you need to win, "Rotenberg explained the decision to say goodbye to the goalkeeper.
But if few people expected that Podyapolsky would become the main one in SKA, then Prokhorkin had high hopes. In 2019, he left the Northern capital in the status of a two-time winner of the Gagarin Cup and one of the leaders of the team's attack, but then he did not show such brilliance either in Los Angeles, or in Metallurg and Avangard. The return to St. Petersburg turned out to be a crushing failure. In the last championship, he only went on the ice three times and scored one assist, in the playoffs, although he scored four (1 + 3) points in seven matches, he failed to rehabilitate himself for an unsuccessful segment.
"SKA parted ways with Nikolai Prokhorkin. This is not an easy decision. Kolya is a strong player, he has made a great contribution to the history of the club. With him we won the Gagarin Cup in 2017, he was part of the Russian team that won gold at the Olympics in Pyeongchang. When we invited Nikolay last year, we hoped that he would be able to become a leader, lead the guys. Alas, injuries prevented. From the bottom of my heart I wish Kolya a full recovery and a successful continuation of his career! We remain good friends. I hope he will succeed in the future," Rotenberg wrote on Telegram.
What is curious in this case is not the decision to get rid of Prokhorkin, but how this story ended. After all, immediately after the exchange, the forward terminated the agreement with Sochi and moved to the status of a free agent. This was confirmed by his agent Olga Korsunskaya, and in the camp of the "bars" they even joked about this. In social networks, they published an episode from the series "The Simpsons", in which Homer's father enters and immediately leaves the brothel.
The signing of Nikolishin and the end of Sayustov's career
In turn, other KHL teams continue to prepare for the season starting on September 1. After the departure of Corban Knight, Avangard were in dire need of a central striker. And I found it in the person of Ivan Nikolishin. For him, Amur received Daniil Fesenko and Kirill Spitsenko, as well as monetary compensation. According to media reports, it amounted to 27.5 million rubles.
"We continue to strengthen the central axis ... Nikolishin has progressed markedly over the past three seasons and last year became the real leader of Amur. This is evidenced not only by the statistics, his emotional attitude and desire to lead his teammates we saw in every match. Ivan is a versatile forward, he is useful both offensively and defensively, and most importantly, he really wants to prove himself in our team, "said Anton Kuryanov, CEO of the Hawks.
At the same time, the end of cooperation between Nikolishin and Amur turned out to be quite difficult. Probably, the crisis in relations was caused by the refusal of Khabarovsk residents to pay for the operation to the athlete, who last season was their captain and top scorer. In 67 matches, he scored 17 goals and assisted his teammates 25 times. First, this was reported by the well-known journalist Oleksiy Shevchenko, and then confirmed in the club itself. True, a small nuance was revealed.
"The club had no right or opportunity to pay for Ivan's operation in Germany. We offered to pay for it in any Russian clinic of the player's choice. He decided to go abroad and issued a written waiver of any claims against the club in this regard. The document is in our archive, "said Vadim Pokotilo, general director of Khabarovsk residents.
At some point, one might get the impression that the relationship between the hockey player and the team had heated up to the limit, but later a thaw allegedly came. One way or another, Nikolishin did not stay in Khabarovsk. And his words speak of satisfaction with the end of this story.
"It was a tough transition, a lot of things. I don't want to go into details. Well, it was and it was. We parted and shook hands. I said "thank you" to them, they let me go. It seems like it turned out to be an honest exchange ... Of course, I was worried (that in September I could become a free agent. - RT). Everyone was already starting to play. And you keep sitting, training. And you don't understand what awaits you next. Thank God that the issue has been resolved. There is moral relief that all this is over. You don't worry anymore, and you can focus on hockey," admitted the son of ex-Washington forward Andrei Nikolishin.
While Ivan continued to prepare for the new championship and has already made his debut for Avangard, Dmitry Sayustov announced his retirement. The striker took part in all 15 seasons of the KHL and became a true legend of the Admiral, and at the age of 35 he hung up his skates. For 212 matches for Vladivostok, he scored 74 (44 + 30) points - more than anyone in their history, and also defended the colors of CSKA, Salavat Yulaev, Siberia, Torpedo and Traktor.