To Russia with Love: Gonchar to the KHL?

After thanking Sergei Gonchar during his Hart Trophy acceptance speech at the 2012 NHL Awards show in Las Vegas, it now appears likely that Evgeni Malkin and Gonchar will be reunited as teammates…(wait for it)… in the KHL.

From Friday's Ottawa Sun:

According to reports out of Pittsburgh and Russia, Gonchar has been skating with Evgeni Malkin and will play for Magnitogorsk of the KHL if the NHL season doesn’t start on Oct. 11. The report said the two close friends would sign weekly contracts until a CBA is settled.

Having already endured two work stoppages under Gary Bettman's watch, I've become quite familiar with a number of tangible precursors that signify that a lockout is closer to being realized. If the media's use of the inordinate number of unflattering Gary Bettman photographs that accompany each CBA story wasn't a dead giveaway, seeing veteran players like Gonchar find alternative (but temporary) places to play during a prospective work stoppage means that we're drawing that much closer to the September 15th drop dead date.

In the event that the start of the season is delayed, there has been quite a bit of speculation as to which members of the Senators would be open to the possibility of playing in or returning to Binghamton. To this point however, Gonchar represents the first of what should be many players who will look to Europe as part of their lockout contingency plan.

Interestingly, the IIHF’s director of communications, Szymon Szemberg, has indicated that “the Swedish league decided that it will not accept any short-term contracts of locked out NHLers. Players can only sign for a minimum of one season.”

Although there is some skepticism that the SEL will hold itself up to this promise, NHL players will still be able to look to Russia, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden’s SEL-2 as alternatives.

Speaking of alternatives, the idea of doling out weekly contracts to Gonchar sound like a great idea to borrow and implement into the NHL's new CBA. Melnyk, get on it.

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