Masterston Nominee Zednik Defects from NHL to Join Yashin in KHL

Martin AverySenior Writer IMay 1, 2009

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Richard Zednik #20 of the Florida Panthers speaks about a life-threatening accidental neck laceration he received by the skate blade of teammate Olli Jokinen in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, on February 10 in Buffalo, at the Bank Atlantic Center February 21, 2008 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

"Back in the US
Back in the US
Back in the USSR  ...."
-- from "Back In The USSR"
by Lennon/McCartney for The Beatles

Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers cut a deal with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League the day the NHL announced he was in the running for the Bill Masterston Trophy. He will play alongside Alexei Yashin, formerly of  New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators.

The story made headlines around the hockey world as it was carried by PR-Inside.com, The Hockey News, RDS.ca. AP, and others.

The Masterton Trophy is awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Zednik returned to the Florida Panthers this season after missing nearly a year after his neck was sliced by a skate during a 2008 game against the Sabres.

Zednik underwent surgery to close a deep gash on the right side of his neck. Blood gushed from Zednik's neck after he was hurt midway through a game. Clutching his neck, Zednik raced to the Florida bench, leaving a long trail of blood.

Zednik joins a growing list of high profile hockey players in the KHL.

The other high-profile hockey player in the KHL, with Yashin, is Jaromir Jagr, a former NHL MVP, joined the Siberian team Avangard Omsk last year. The one-time star for the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers.

The KHL and the NHL were rocked by the death of 19-year-old New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov, this season. He was Jagr's teammate at Avangard Omsk. He collapsed on the bench next to Jagr during a game.

Prior to its first season, several KHL teams signed players from the NHL, causing a dispute between the two leagues which has not yet been resolved and could influence future Olympic Games.

The KHL and NHL signed an agreement signed in July of 2008, saying each league would honor the contracts of the other. However the signing of Alexander Radulov was made public one day after the agreement.

Although Radulov was still under contract with the Nashville Predators for one more season, he signed a three-year deal with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League.

The Kontinental Hockey League is Russia's highest division of hockey. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, formerly known as Spartak, in the Cold War era. Yaroslavl is a city in Russia 155 miles north-east of Moscow.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl have won the Soviet Championship four times, and have also had European-level success in the Spengler Cup, which they have won five times. Spartak NHL alumni include Nikolai Borschevsky, Daniil Markov, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Pavel Bure.

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Zednik represented Slovakia at the 1996 World Junior Championships and in August 1996 he played in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

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