A game of what if…

Ok, so remember a few years back a Russian billionaire, I believe either Roman Abramovich or Platon Lebedev wanted to buy a hockey team, and make it entirely out of Russians, and win a cup, and prove that Russians were the best hockey players in the world. What if this happened…This was mentioned a few years ago, but it was mentioned several times on hockey night in Canada I believe. I’m not even sure if I remember the story correctly, but lets imagine it does happen…

I know I should prolly edit the article, but I just found the link, it was Roman Abramavitch, here it is.


Apparently he was first interested in the Canucks, and obviously didn’t get them.

What team would it be??? The Pittsburgh Penguins are for sale, aren’t they? But with the Blues recently being sold to Checkets, he wouldn’t have many options.

Now, really how hard would this be. In goal, Bryzgalov and Khabibulen would likely be easy to add, and the Devils are desperate to dump Alex Mogilny, Valeri Bure is relatively unwanted in Los Angeles, and Malakhov in New Jersey… is he retired?? Could he come back? It looks unlikely that the Maple Leafs will re-sign defenseman Alexander Khavanov, and Samsonov is a UFA this summer, of course they’d have to complete a sale within several months for this to happen.

And what would the results of this be?

Well I think there could be a couple Canadian GMs who would attempt to build an all-Canadian team. Of course most of them would be on teams like Calgary, and Edmonton, where it is already prodomenantly all Canadians as key players. Would you want all Canadians on your team? Well I can say safely, while I’d love to see an all-Canadian team win the cup for the first time since the 1975 Philadelphia Flyers, I wouldn’t want to see the Leafs win the cup without Mats Sundin. And then Steen, Ponikarovsky, Kaberle, and Tellqvist are vital parts of the team.

In other Canadian cities, the Senators would likely want to keep Hasek, Havlat, Chara, and Alfredsson. Montreal has key players like Markov, Huet, Koivu, and Kovalev, the Canucks have Markus Naslund and a handful of defenseman, several Russians, and for the Albertan teams… well really it wouldn’t change much at all.

And imagine the Russian team made the finals, and then a team made by an angry GM who wanted an all-Canadian team, made the finals? Canada vs Russia, that would sure be a hell of a series. But I’m not sure there are many Canadians who would let the Russians take our Stanley Cup without at least knocking a few out of the game.

Would the fans except such a team? Would the board of governors except a team? Well they except the Dallas Stars, why not a team of Russians, hey, these are the guys who allowed the shootouts, nothing is out of their reach.

I’d like to read your thoughts on this issue, because it would interesting indeed, I decided to bring it up because of the constant talks on the business side of the game, and it got me to thinking if whatshisnameovich would buy a team.


42 Responses to A game of what if…

  1. Turnbull says:

    Interesting idea,…dont think it would ever really happen though,…an all canadian team would dominate, better goaltending and better defence than the Russians. I think an all “Finnish” team would also do pretty well in the NHL.

    P.S. Steen was born in Winnipeg, (I know his Dad is from Sweden) so I might still consider him a canadian.

  2. TheRussianEvolution says:

    Well they except the Dallas Stars, why not a team of Russians?

    Right….. considering that the NHL is located in the USA it would never be allowed to happen. I can already see the massive ACLU suit against the team for discrimination. Plus, acquiring enough NHL quality Russians to field a team is staggeringly difficult.

  3. zdeno_duchesne says:

    for the purposes of marketing a likeable team in the US and Canada, this Russian team would struggle to make money.

    You’d see loyal fans leaving their team, and a resistance from new fans. I think this kind of team is way too early seventies, and you will never see it happen. It doesn’t make business sense.

  4. Tweek says:

    agreed…. brock sucks

  5. UWSensFan says:

    Steen is as much Canadian as Dany Heatley (born in Germany) in my opinion…just as much as Brett Hull is 100% American 😛

  6. SabresFan220 says:

    That could only happen in the world of say ESPN NHL 2006. The idea of it is ludacris in the real world because the top notch Russians tend to like what teams they are on now (with exception to pending free agents). An all-Canadian team wouldn’t happen either because every Canadian team has European or American key players that play well with the group they have. Not to mention fans and communities have grown attached to some of the players on their team.

  7. Kraut182 says:

    I think this idea could have been more interesting under the pre-Cap NHL. If this guy is a huge billionare and doesn’t care about losing a bunch of money he could have just gone out and bought every really good Russian player available. Run the payroll up, and then run the score up.

    Now it would be really hard with salary restrictions. Of course any team could be made all-Russian (or Canadian or whatever) eventually by only drafting and trading for that nationality, but would be operating at a significant disadvantage.

    ie. You’re the Penguins and you have the 1st overall pick last summer, but you can’t draft Crosby because he’s not Russian.

  8. moosehockey says:

    How so? Steen was born and raised in Winnipeg. Lived his life in Canada…. he’s about as Canadian as you can possibly be

  9. gemini_the_drunk says:

    What the hell is that supposed to mean, really? “Well they except the Dallas Stars”. What the hell is that? I’m really struggling here to figure out what the hell that is supposed to mean. Someone, anyone fill me in, what in the hell did he mean by that?

  10. gemini_the_drunk says:

    Do you happen to know what he means by the comment, “Well they except the Dallas Stars”?

  11. Kraftster says:

    Such a lawsuit would not happen.

  12. mtl_prince says:

    Huet is not Russian!?!?!?!?!?

  13. dcz28 says:

    My guess is because Dallas has a lot of Finns just like the Wings have a lot of Swedes and the Rangers have a lot of Czech players

  14. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    Steen plays for Sweden in international tournaments, he played his junior hockey in Sweden, and spent his summers there.

  15. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    I was listing some non-Canadians, Huet is from France, then there’s Markov and Kovalev, Russians, and Koivu, from Finland.

  16. gemini_the_drunk says:

    Well, I guess Leafy either doesn’t like the Stars or Finns in particular. Otherwise, why single them out?

  17. dcz28 says:

    I don’t know why he chose Dallas as an example if that is what he meant but the first team that comes to my mind about having a lot of players from the same country is the Wings since they started the trend with the Russian five of Larionov, Federov, Kozlov, Fetisov and Konstantinov

  18. edouardmorin says:

    I guess the leafs are out of the playoffs and you have nothing better to do with your time huh??

    I feel more stupid for having read this article. Its stupid and never going to happen.

    Please lets keep it to real hockey related matter

  19. cecilturtle says:

    Back in the good-ol-days when I started watching hockey in the late 70’s… There was not the draft of today. There were no Europeans in the NHL and the top players had to play for the NHL team their hometown was closest too. As a result, the Rangers never had a good team and Montreal was UNBEATABLE!!! Every player on Montreal had a French Canadian last name. If anyone can list the players on the great Canadian teams of the late 70’s… You will Sherly know what I mean. My first early years impressions of hockey left me with one overlying major question. How and why are French Canadians the best hockey players in the world?

    Cecil Turtle

  20. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    French Canadians are definately not the best hockey players in the world. Canadians are the best hockey players in the world.

  21. cecilturtle says:

    I ment back in the 70’s… And I should have mentioned Toronto and Boston were a very close 2nd and 3rd best and they always beat the Rangers as well, but never won a cup for some reason. I was really young back around this time… So if anyone could elaborate more on how the draft used to work? Please do thank you.

  22. EmptyNetter says:

    There would be issues for sure. If such a thing were to happen I’d think it would have to be a work in progress — buy a team and begin building the Russian roster by trading existing players away and drafting exclusively from Russia over the next few years. Does he want a competitive Russian squad or just ALL Russian?

    Anyway, the transfer fees to get the players into the NHL would make this a very expensive dream to fulfill.

  23. dcz28 says:

    I think Montreal had the first crack at any player from Quebec without others being able to draft them before them but i’m not exactly sure if it went exactly like that

  24. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    I’m saddened by the fact that all the games I’ve seen of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s I knew the outcome of… damn ESPN Classic, watch it too much.

    Any ways, you also said players had to play for their area team. That’s not true. It just so happened the Maple Leafs and Canadiens loaded up on Ontarians and Quebecers, there really weren’t many Americans. And the Leafs had Swede Borje Salming. Oh, and btw, several of Montreal’s key players were non-Quebecer, Robinson, Gainey, Dryden, but unfortunately non-Quebecers don’t get their jersey retired by Montreal.

  25. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    Yes they got a heritage pick, but it never resulted in anything, because back then you could sign a player at a younger age, Orr was signed at 14.

  26. gemini_the_drunk says:

    Agreed. Detroit definitely is front runner in that regard.

  27. gemini_the_drunk says:

    Yes, I agree.

  28. CaptainModano says:

    I remember Abramovich wanting to buy a team, and I believe Dallas was the team up for sale at the time, but it was won by another bidder. Thankfully

    Zubie’s the only Russian we got, and that’s fine with me! They coulda used him in Torino, but I think he boycotted it.

  29. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    Vancouver was the team he was intent on buying according to the HF boards archives.

    Hey CaptainModano, what’s goin on over at WOW?

  30. JannettyTheRocker says:

    My title says it all……….










    ps……haha, Leaf’s miss the playoffs. Told you so!!!

  31. TheWho says:

    You’re a moron with nothing to add, told you so!

    PS: I’m a habs fan, not a Leafs one.

  32. JannettyTheRocker says:

    Thank You!!! Always like being called a moron……

    Anyways, I won’t say anything negative to you tonight. I’m just glad the Habs are in and the Leafs are out.

    Hopefully it’s Habs vs Sens in the first round.

  33. SabresFan220 says:

    Well said, but I have to believe that Saku Koivu will be the 1st non French Canadian to have his jersey retired by Montreal. I’m surprised no non French Canadians have had their numbers retired by the Canadiens.

  34. paul_dc10 says:

    yeah “Hopefuly it’s Habs vs Sens first round”


  35. habs_punk says:

    Come on now, you and sabres fan need to do some more research. Howie Morenz was from Mitchell, Ontario.

  36. habs_punk says:

    He wouldn’t be able to field a competitive Russian hockey team. There’s no way. You think Washington is going to just offer up Ovechkin in a trade so this guy can make it happen? Kovalev probably isn’t going anywhere. Nabokov and Bryzgalov seem to be integral parts of their teams future. Khabiboulin would be a waste.

    He could get the all Russian team, but it wouldn’t be all Russian stars. They would likely have trouble making the playoffs, and would more likely be fighting with Pittsburgh for the first overall pick. And if they won the draft lottery, what then? Pass up on Kessel, Toews, and Johnson for whoever the top ranked Russian is? This idea would never in a million years work.

    An all Canadian team, while much more feasible, would still not be a Stanley Cup contender. The pure volume of Canadian players in the league is the only reason it could happen.

  37. Aetherial says:

    I do not think that was the case in the 70’s.

    The only thing that I believe was once true was that Montreal had, for some reason, exclusivity in drafting from the French Canadian pool of talent. I am not sure how long this went, but not many people realize that they had this advantage.

  38. Gretzkin says:

    Oilers will make the playoffs, don’t worry about that.

  39. EmptyNetter says:

    From what I understand teams bought the rights to minor league teams. The Canadiens owned the rights to the Peterborough Petes for a long while. I think the Bruins owned the rights to the Oshawa Generals and through them they got Bobby Orr. The system continued into the 1960’s when they instituted the entry draft.

    As far as US players I don’t think they were included in the entry draft until the 1980’s. Before then I assume they were signed as free agents if they were good enough to make the team. Red Wings were the first team to load up on US college players, then the NHL wised up and included them in the draft. I think that’s how it went. . .

  40. Habs_no1_fan says:

    If I must mistaken, the rule about Montreal having the priority above french canadiens ended with the 1969 draft. So that’s why Gilbert Perreault was selected by the Sabres in 1970… Imagine the 70’s canadiens with Perreault…. Would have been pretty interesting…

  41. Habs_no1_fan says:

    After some verifications, the years I gave were accurate, and the rule was that montreal could draft the first 2 french canadiens.

  42. rojoke says:

    From my memory, when the NHL was first formed, the Habs were given the first right to sign any player born in Quebec, and the Leafs were given the same first right for Ontario. After that, each team owned and operated its own junior clubs, in addition to minor league teams. It was almost identical to how the European hockey system works today, where players graduate from junior to the various pro leagues without being drafted. The first entry draft as we know it today was in 1967.

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