It’s Thursday afternoon, and there isn’t really anything new to report about the Leafs at this time. We have recaps in text and video form up for yesterday’s game. The media is being nicer to Dave Bolland than they are to Phil Kessel for not speaking to the media, but I can’t stretch that double standard into a post. But I was told a pretty awesome story involving everybody’s favourite Estonian-born Finnish Pest that speaks a billion languages and currently plays in Russia.
As we’re all very aware of, Leo Komarov departed from the Toronto Maple Leafs after just one season in North America. Some say he was chasing the money (and he is, in fact, making over double what the Leafs offered him, which is speculated to be about $1.2 million), but the reality of the situation? He needed ice time and offensive contribution if he wanted to play for Team Finland in the Olympics. He wasn’t going to get that on the fourth line of the Leafs, but Dynamo Moscow provided the opportunity, offering him top line minutes.
He made the best of it, starting the season at a near point per game pace, and despite trailing off, is still tied for first in scoring on the team, who are about to enter the KHL playoffs as the 1st seed team in the west. He’s also become the super villain of the league. Opposing fans dislike him so much that when Avangard Omsk renovated their arena, their fans requested he be painted on the stairs so they could step on him on the way to their seats.
Onto the “Komarov Rule” though. Unfortunately, this isn’t a Sean Avery situation where he caused a bunch of trouble on the ice and the league had to make permanent changes to the rules after. I mean, we all know he causes trouble, but nothing like that has happened yet. No, this is a Dynamo Moscow internal policy.
See, Komarov really enjoyed his time with Toronto, going as far to call it the best year of his life. This isn’t a shocker, with him expressing interest in returning to the National Hockey League next year and his agent saying that the Leafs would have first priority (he becomes a UFA this year). How much did he enjoy it?
Upon getting to Russia, Leo was proud to play for Dynamo Moscow, but he wasn’t letting go of the season prior. Much like you’ll see NHL players wear merch from other pro sports teams from time to time, Komarov opted to wear Leafs gear in all sorts of situations. The issue, of course, is that the Leafs happen to play the same sport.
So, in response, Dynamo Moscow told their players that NHL merchandise was not to be worn from this point on. This would solve the issue, if this story wasn’t about one of the great hockey trolls of our time. Komarov’s internal response? “Hey, I also played for the Toronto Marlies…”
The above photo is not from Toronto Marlies training camp. The man circled is not Leo Komarov. The man circled is Alexei Tsvetkov, who has played 609 games of top-level pro hockey. He has been a player of the month, lead the 2010 playoffs in assists, and has a cup ring.
All of these things happened in Russia. Tsvetkov has never played in North America. Not only was Komarov wearing his old gear, he was passing it along to teammates.
Dynamo Moscow players are no longer allowed to wear hockey merchandise from any team, at any level, other than Dynamo Moscow.
NOTE: These rule changes are “unwritten” and I haven’t contacted Dynamo Moscow officials for confirmation, because honestly, that’s a lot of effort.