Friday, February 20, 2009

Habs At It Again

The story of the Kostitsyn's and organized crime in Montreal has taken on a life of it's own, but of course-- this is not something that is unknown to the world of the NHL, nor the world of the Montreal Canadiens. We all remember Jose Theodore's run-in with the law in regards to organized crime and his father's possible involvement with loan-sharking.

Plus, you have the curious case of the the Russians being controlled by the organized crime in Russian while they play in the NHL. Such names as Pavel Bure, Alexei Zhitnik and, Alex Mogilny, to name just a few. The CBC's "Fifth Estate" did a piece about this situation back in 1999, which involved Bure, Valery Kamensky, and Slava Fetisov. PBS's "Frontline" had a story about the mafia's "power play" in the NHL, while Play the Game has a pretty big piece about the different types of scenarios that happens, which is quite a solid read.

However, it seems that this happens every few years-- especially with those who come from the Eastern Bloc nations. Whether it's gullibility or contact they made before they reached the NHL, but somehow-- these kind of stories surface once every 5-7 years with the NHL. We had a some kind of hypothesis like this when Evgeni Malkin has his little dilemna before he came into the NHL. It's something that almost can't be avoided when it comes to Russian superstars however, especially if they are high-profile ones. You almost have to wonder what will happen if the NHLers go over the Sochi for the 2014 Olympics.

Yet, while on some message boards, hockey fans believe this is a black-eye for the face of the game. I don't know how some could see this as a big deal for the league, when other leagues in North America could have something like this (much like the MLB) and it passes like it's nothing at all. The NFL and NBA has stuff like this all the time, but like my friend and guest of FOHS Kym "With a 'y'" said: "Because 90% of the time the NHL behaves itself. Steroids and misdemeanors are so common in other sports that people are used to it."

And that's the truth. The NHL can keep it's nose-clean so much, but the moment that the league has something scandalous happen to it-- it's a huge deal. People make this out to be the biggest thing ever and yet, it passes like that and it usually guilt by association, but not direct association. Also, it's when the kids are younger and more adept to be influenced by these possible connections.

In the end, if there's nothing the Kostitsyn's are involved in directly, it's another happenstance of the connections they made as young, vulnerable hockey players who could believe they could live beyond their means by making some friends they don't know all that well, but they live a high life; so it attracts them. If they didn't do anything wrong-- it's a non-issue and really all for naught.

However in the biggest anniversary in this storied franchise, the news has been nothing but bad as of late. With the team slumping and rumors of the night life being too much for the youngsters, it's the perfect storm for a collapse the size of the Ottawa Senators of '07-'08.

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