|2010-11 Vityaz Chekhov season|
|Founded||2004 (1998 as Vityaz Podolsk)|
|History||2004-present: Vityaz Chekhov|
1998-2004: Vityaz Podolsk
|Home Arena||Podolsk Sports Palace (5,500)|
|Colors||Red and white|
|General Manager||Alexei Zhamnov|
|Head Coach||Alexei Yarushkin|
Vityaz Chekhov (in Russian: Витязь Чехов, Chekhov Warriors, Vityaz being an ancient Rus word meaning "valiant warrior") (founded in 1998 in Podolsk, Russia) is a professional ice hockey team of the Kontinental Hockey League. They play their home games at the Podolsk Ice Palace.
History[edit | edit source]
The club was founded in 1998 as Vityaz Podolsk. In 2000, the team moved to the neighboring city of Chekhov; however, the team kept playing under the name Vityaz Podolsk until 2004, where the renaming was finally done. The team initially played its home games at the Ice Palace Vityaz in Podolsk, the same arena HK MVD Balashikha used until 2006. Such a thing was allowed by virtue of the opening in 2004 of a new arena in Chekhov, the Ice Hockey Center 2004, that Vityaz began using. Initially, this arena had a capacity of 1,370; it was expanded in 2007-08 to 3,300.
Vityaz played at the top level of Russian hockey for the 2000-01 RSL season; it got relegated to Vysshaya Liga at the end of the season. In 2005, Vityaz won the Vysshaya Liga championship and earned a promotion back to the elite level.
Rumors of a move back to Podolsk arose in the wake of the inaugural KHL season as even with the expansion of 2007-08, Chekhov's capacity is still below the norm established by the KHL. The team indeed restarted playing their home games in Podolsk, but remained attached to Chekhov.
Kontinental Hockey League[edit | edit source]
Chekhov's debuts in the KHL were pretty bad. Vityaz registered a mere 6 wins in regulation, plus five in overtime; in counterpart for those 11 wins, the team lost 45 times (of which, 12 games were in overtime). The meager 40 points collected meant that the team finished at a dismal 23rd place out of 24, a single point ahead of the equally bad Khimik Voskresensk. Head coach Sergei Gomolyako made the mistake in October to dress one more foreign player than allowed by the rules, resulting in a match lost by forfeit. Gomolyako claimed he ignored there was such a rule, and the following week, he was fired, to be replaced by former NHL player and Vityaz head coach Mike Krushelnyski. Vityaz' fans enjoyed the return of Krushelnyski, who was had brought the team to the playoffs in 2006-07. But Chekhov's goon-full roster, which general manager Alexei Zhamnov wishes to shape after the 1990s Chicago Blackhawks for whom he played, just couldn't bring good enough performances to repeat the feat. They however led the league in penalty minutes, some 500 minutes ahead of the second most penalized club, with players such as Nathan Perrott (137 minutes in 9 matches and not a single point), Darcy Verot (more disciplined and productive than in his first season with Vityaz, even though it still only meant 5 points and 168 minutes) and Chris Simon (league leader at 263 minutes, and club's second best scorer behind Gleb Klimenko at 27 points). The team traded away three of its six top scorers (Klimenko, Pavel Boychenko and Igor Radulov) and without the arrival of Bryan Berard (who scored 18 points in 25 games and vastly improved Chekhov's powerplay), the team might have done even worse.
But Chekhov's season was particularly darkened by the tragic death of Alexei Cherepanov, a death that occurred on its home ice and that might have been avoided had Chekhov's arena been equipped with a working defibrillator and had not the ambulance that should remain available until the end of the match not departed well before the end, resulting in much longer delays between the accident and the moment where Cherepanov arrived at the nearest hospital.
2009-10 felt like déja-vu for Chekhov. After almost being thrown out of the league due to its finances in August (it needed to find 300 million of rubles, which it did), the Knights started the season with two wins and temporarily led the league. Things didn't last however as the team finished 23rd out of 24 teams with only 13 regular-tme wins (plus 3 in overtime and 2 in the shootouts; it nevertheless is an improvement from the previous year), 54 points and, once again, a colossal amount of penalty minutes: 1522, ahead and by far every other team in the league. Vadim Berdnikov, Gleb Klimenko (who came back from Kazan) and Chris Simon led the offence with respectively 33, 27 and 25 points. Darcy Verot, on the other hand, led the team in penalty minutes with 376 in 34 matches.
Once again, an incident between Vityaz and Avangard marked the season. On January 9 2010, the game between Vityaz and Avangard was stopped after 3 minutes and 39 seconds when a bench-clearing and penalty-box-clearing brawl broke out. Darcy Verot had instigated the brawl after three minutes of play when he shot the puck at an Avangard player. A mass brawl quickly followed, which the referees could deal with. However, as soon as the game was resumed, fighting resumed as well and both benches cleared to join the fight. The game was quickly getting out of hands and the officials decided it was better to cancel the whole game. Little else could be done, as a whopping total of 707 penalty minutes had been incurred - a new world record - and a total of 33 players on both teams have been ejected from the game, as well as both head coaches. Only four players avoided being ejected. The KHL imposed a total of 5.7 million rubles (about US $191,000) fines, including 150,000 rubles fines to Vityaz's Darcy Verot and Brandon Sugden and Avangard's Alexander Svitov and Dmitry Vlasenkov. Additionally, Verot, Sugden, Vlasenkov and four other Vityaz players received one-game suspensions.. Additionally, this game became the first in the league history where both teams lost the game, as the league declared it would be a 5-0 loss for both Avangard and Vityaz. No team earned points for this match. It was the first time Avangard visited Chekhov since Cherepanov's death.
Vityaz greats[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
|Ice hockey in Russia|
|Ice Hockey Federation of Russia|
|Defunct leagues||International Hockey League - Superleague - Vysshaya Liga -Second League|
|Statistics||List of Soviet and Russian ice hockey champions - List of scoring champions -List of goal scoring champions|