For 15 years, some of the NHL’s top talent has come from Russia. Now, however, a fledgling professional league in the former Communist superpower, buoyed by an influx of petrodollars from the nation's vast oil fields and a surging economy, is looking to keep its talent at home and lure back some NHL expatriates, reports the New York Times.
“From my perspective, there is a competition between Russian clubs and the NHL for the best product on the ice," said former New York Islander Alexei Yashin, one of the bigger names to return to a country that considers hockey a national tradition. Yashin says more will follow. It will take time, however, given the NHL's more lucrative salaries. One of the American league's top stars is Alex Ovechkin, who hails from you know where.