Blackhawks Lose Out On Russian Superstar Because Of NHL Olympic Decision


Hockey fans knew that there would be some fallout after the the NHL decided their players would not participate in the 2018 Olympics. It turns out that not only NHL players have a problem with the decision. The fallout has reached the Russian players in the KHL and it will cost the Blackhawks a top prospect

Maxim Shalunov was a fourth-round draft pick by the Blackhawks in 2011 and spent some time with the Rockford IceHogs in 2013-2014. He didn’t quite adjust to the pro game and went back to Russia to play in the KHL. There, he has been a rising star the last two seasons with 18g 12a in 2015-2016 and 19g 18a in 2016-2017. His success this past season led to him being named to the all-star team.

There had been reports that Shalunov had interest and could have joined the Blackhawks as early as this postseason. That was laid to rest a month ago but new news dashes any hopes of him joining the organization for at least one more year.

Most people would think that a player would never pass up the chance to play in the NHL but Russian players have a great sense of national pride. On Tuesday afternoon, the AFP news in Moscow reported that Shalunov’s agent Shumi Babayev stated his player has cut off talks to come to the NHL because of the Olympic decision.

Shalunov has represented Russia twice in the U18 and U20 championships while earning bronze in both. Though, he has never played for the national team at the World Championships or Olympics. According to Babayev, a spot on the Olympic stage for Russia would be a “life’s dream” for his client Shalunov.

Once again the NHL’s stinginess is hurting the product and the fans. It has always been believed that the NHL has the greatest collection of hockey players in the world but that isn’t completely true. Babayev represents another player, Anton Burdasov, who has also cut talks off. He would have come over as an undrafted free agent, not unlike Artemi Panarin came to the Blackhawks.

The NHL’s actions are depriving fans of potentially great players who are coveted by many teams. It’s a shame that a league that is so concerned about its product, denies itself the opportunity to better the game and grow the game. Maybe Gary Bettman is happy always being the fourth largest sport.

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