The NHL lockout is not over until it is over, and it is only over when the CBA is ratified by both sides which we’re told won’t happen until the players complete their vote on Saturday.
That’s enough excuse for Andrei Markov and a few others to continue playing in the Kontinental Hockey League. Markov played alongside his Vityaz Chekhov teammates in a 3-1 win over Torpedo at Nizhny Novgorod Tuesday night. He didn’t record a point but put in 21 shifts and 18:19 ice time. Markov has not missed a shift since he returned from broken ribs early in December, an injury that cost him a month of playing time and seven games.
Alexei Emelin, the other member of the KHL-Habs this season, was not in the Ak-Bars lineup as his team hosted St. Petersburg SKA Tuesday. He is currently on his way to Montreal. However, forwards Ilya Kovalchuk, Maxim Afinogenov and Petr Prucha did play for SKA. Ak-Bars won the game 3-1.
To be clear, under the IIHF/NHL/KHL agreement, players under contract to NHL teams cannot continue to play for European teams after the lockout has officially ended. While some might question the wisdom of risking injury and continuing to play, Markov – Kovalchuk et al are totally within their rights. However, if they do not report to their respective team’s training camp Sunday, the result would be international sanctions. Expect all of them to start the North American trek by Thursday at the latest.