It seemed like all of Russia’s hockey elite made their way to the Ledovy Ice Palace in Saint Petersburg’s, Russia, Thursday night. The ocassion? To officially welcome Pavel Datsyuk back to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Just one glance at the photo above, and you get a sense of the importance of Datsyuk’s return to the KHL. From left to right: Nikita Zaitsev (Maple Leafs), former Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov (Avalanche), Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, Unknown, Dmitry Kulikov (Panthers) and Alexi Emilin (Canadiens). That would make for a pretty good NHL starting line-up; all waiting for a train in a Saint Petersburg subway station, making their way to the Ice Palace.
Chicago Blackhawk’s star winger Artemi Panarin was also in attendance:
Artemi Panarin and Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues), being the youngest guns of the NHL’ers, were given the honor of dropping the ceremonial first puck.
Oh yeah, as for Datsyuk, not a bad homecoming. He scored his first goal since returning to the KHL on a vicious backhander, just 33 seconds into the contest. He would also add an assist later in the game.
And Datsyuk’s line for the game? Well, look out KHL:
Kovalchuk – Datsyuk – Plotnikov line combined for 12 points tonight.
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) August 25, 2016
By Jon Sorensen