End of the road
Defenseman Alexei Zhitnik has chosen to end his playing days, but is yet to decide what he will do in the future. According to media reports, he trained for last season in North America, waited for offers, but failed to reach agreement with any club. Prior to that, Zhitnik played for two seasons in the KHL, where in 124 games for Dynamo Moscow he scored 5 goals and made 21 assists, averaged over 20 minutes on the ice and was always a key player for the Blue-and-Whites.

Metalworkers strengthened
Novokuznetsk Metallurg has captured the signature of Canadian defenseman Brent Sopel. He spent last season at Atlanta, but two years ago won the Stanley Cup with Chicago. In all, Sopel clocked up 730 games in the NHL and posted his best statistics in the 2003-2004 season, when he wore the colors of Vancouver and totaled 10 goals and 32 assists in 80 outings. Sopel becomes just the third foreign player in Metallurg’s ranks, and both his fellow travelers at Novokuznetsk are Finns.

Hat-trick
Amur’s players lined up against each other at the club’s training arena in front of 400 spectators, who had parted with 100 rubles to see their heroes play. The star of the show was Martin Ruzicka, who hit a hat-trick for the “Whites,” while Dmitry Tarasov put the “Blues” on the scoreboard. Standing between the pipes for the losing side was Jan Lasak, considered to be the team’s number one choice, while Stelmakh and Berestnev took turns in goal for the Whites. The Makarov – Glukhov – Litovchenko line played for both sides.

Foreign legion
Spartak defenseman Juraj Mikus is waiting with some trepidation for talks with the leadership, and in an interview with the club’s official website admitted there seems little chance of him remaining now that there are six foreigners in the roster. Mikus maintains he has good relations with his rivals, and is on friendly terms, but understands that he may have to leave. Juraj was in a similar situation a year ago: having prepared for the season with Spartak, he had to wait for a place in the side and spent part of the campaign playing in Riga. Nonetheless, he decided to return.

Convincing victory
Dinamo Riga enjoyed its first friendly of the preseason, inflicting a 9-2 hammering on Latvian championship outfit HK Riga. The KHL team’s goals came from Stals, Dzerins, Sotnieks (3), Meja (2), Berzins and Lucenius. Surprisingly, Dinamo contrived to lose 0-1 in a shootout. None of Dinamo’s foreign keepers were on duty, so local boys Gudlevskis and Lusins guarded the net.

Back home
CSKA’s players have returned home after their first training trip in Finland. They have been allowed to rest for just a day and a half, and by Monday morning will already be enjoying their first training session in Moscow. Joining them on August 1st will be forward Sergei Shirokov, who was granted more time to recuperate after his exploits in the play-offs in North America shortened his summer. The Army Men will follow their Moscow training with a trip to Latvia, where they have lined up a couple of friendlies.

Quote of the day
"Was I upset that my friend, Martin Ruzicka, hit three goals past me? Well, now he’s my ex-friend. But seriously, I was furious at myself after the third went in; I really flew off the handle, and I just tried to play as well as I could for the rest of the game. I’m happy we won the shoot-out," Amur goaltender Jan Lasak after the game against his teammates in Khabarovsk.

Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru

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