As the KHL season got underway in Russia on Friday, former Detroit Red Wings star Sergei Fedorov began by giving the virtual finger to the IIHF. Later, he let loose on the hockey hierarchy with both barrels.
Coach of the two-time Gagarin Cup champion CSKA Moscow, Fedorov was making the decision to be playing netminder Ivan Fedotov in the KHL season opener against Ak Bars Kazan. Fedotov is under IIHF suspension for not honoring his contract with the NHL Philadelphia Flyers.
1. An interesting story developing. Ivan Fedotov, who has a valid contract with NHL Flyers, is as we speak playing in CSKA Moscow's season opener. This means that – me knowingly – it is the first time that an IIHF affiliated federation, league and club defies an IIHF sanction.>
— Szymon Szemberg (@Sz1909_Szemberg) September 1, 2023
Fedorov let the KHL know of his intentions to suit up Fedotov and the league’s brass is supporting his decision.
“The KHL and the club do not agree with the IIHF decision, which infringes on the constitutional right of a citizen of the Russian Federation to work,” KHL president Alexey Morozov told KHL.ru. “There is no need to speculate. We live in the Russian Federation and must live according to the laws of the country.”
Fedorov Blasts Away At IIHF
After the game, Fedorov went on a tirade against the IIHF. He was also speaking cryptically in support of the Russian regime and President Vladimir Putin. Fedorov even went as far as to reference Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Reading certain things over the past month, I can say with confidence, in my opinion, everyone needs to wake up a long time ago,” TASS reported Fedorov saying. “A special military operation is underway, the world has changed. Therefore, here everyone needs to wake up and understand what realities we live in, and who rules in our country – we or some laws from the other side?”
Two key members of the Russian Five that helped Detroit win the 1996-97 Stanley Cup, Fedorov and Viacheslav Fetisov, have both now spoken strongly in support of the Russian government.
There’s been speculation about NHL interest in Fedorov as a coach following his Russian success. This episode certainly is likley to put any any such talk on the back burner. The NHL won’t look kindly upon someone who is deliberately violating a ruling that was in their favor.
Ak Bars was posting a 5-2 victory. The IIHF was issuing a fine of 5000 Francs – about $5650 US dollars – to CSKA for playing Fedotov.