The NHL owners and the locked out NHL players reached a labor deal early yesterday morning, which means that professional hockey will be back up and running in North America within a few weeks.
During the lockout, many NHL players — particularly those of European descent — went overseas to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), a league with teams in Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and several other nations in the area. These players signed contracts that allow them the return to their NHL teams as soon as there was labor peace, so a mass exodus of hockey talent is happening in eastern Europe at this very moment.
For many of these players, it’s a bittersweet moment. The NHL is where the big money — and the highest level of competition — is, but the lockout gave many of these players the rare chance to play professionally in their home nation in a league that was, at least temporarily, the best in the world.
In what will likely be the final game of Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk’s brief KHL career, he went out with a bang. Already considered by many to be the greatest shootout artist of all time, Datsyuk one-upped his own highlight reel with an absolutely dirty behind-the-back goal. Check this out:
Is this the best shootout goal of all time? It just might be. While other players have certainly attempted and succeeded in pulling off moves that are more technically difficult, none have done it in a real game situation in a top-flight league.
It’s unlikely we’ll see Datsyuk bring his behind-the-back trickery with him when he returns to Detroit (the goalies are a bit tougher to fool and the retribution for show-offs is much more severe), but it’s cool to see him go out in style in front of the home crowd.