- © RIA Novosti. Alexei Philippov
© RIA Novosti. Alexei Philippov
CHELYABINSK, Russia, January 13 (R-Sport) - The president of the KHL hockey league has called NHL owners greedy and lacking "hockey hearts" for failing to make players available for Sunday's All-Star game.
Fans in the Russian Urals city of Chelyabinsk had hoped to see the world's top players at the fifth KHL All-Star game this weekend, but the resolution of the lockout has seen an exodus of the 40-plus NHL stars who had been getting ice time in Russia.
Despite the fact that players like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin were contractually obliged to return to their NHL paymasters, KHL chief Alexander Medvedev said it would have done no harm for some to take part Sunday.
"Not all the people who govern NHL teams have a hockey heart," Medvedev said. The heart, he said, is "made from another material and has money signs stuck to it."
The 62-year-old said an insular world view was to blame.
"Several clubs look down on the international aspects of hockey development and think that it's better to stew in your own stock. They could have released the players without any harm, but greed has strangled them and they didn't allow it."
Medvedev said the KHL had enquired many times about the possibility of retaining players for the All-Star game, but to no avail.
"After several refusals we stopped bothering to ask, and what happened happened."
The only locked out players to take part were New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk and Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk.
Both have insisted they will honor their NHL contracts and return after the All-Star game despite preferring to see out the season in Russia.