Antipov earns his stripes
There is still more than a month remaining until the start of the new KHL championship but Traktor head coach Valery Belousov is in no mood to drag his heels over choosing a captain, and he has just awarded the role to Vladimir Antipov (pictured). Even if elections were held among the players, they would have struggled to find a better choice. Antipov spent the last three seasons at Salavat Yulaev, helping them to become champions of Russia last year, but even back in his days at Yaroslavl he earned a glowing reputation, not least for his character. Alternative captains will be Gennady Razin and Konstantin Panov. The Chelyabinsk club has its first training session on the ice on Wednesday.

Timkim on his own
The Kontinental Hockey League has forbidden Vityaz new boy Evgeny Timkin from training with the rest of the team. Timkin arrived from America, but the Moscow Region club was unable to produce the necessary paperwork confirming the player was free from any obligations to Avangard. And it is the Omsk men who hold the rights to the giant forward.

Curiously, only a few days ago Timkin’s agent claimed that all the problems with the Siberian club had been settled. Sources at the Chekhov camp confidently assert that all these misunderstandings will be cleared up over the next couple of days.

Colors of the past
Following in the footsteps of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Spartak is the second KHL club to adopt a retro uniform for the preseason schedule. Spartak has unveiled the sweaters the team will play in until the 7th of September; a replica of the uniform the Muscovites wore in the USSR championship from 1985 to 1991. Spartak start preparations for the new campaign in the Slovak town of Trenčín, where the Red-and-Whites will play their first friendly games: against Dukla on August 3rd, and the following day they face Skalica.

Foreign Legion
Staying with Spartak, and news that forward Marcel Hossa has decided to end his spell at Ak Bars and has signed for the Muscovites. Last season Marcel bagged 16 goals and 15 assists in 51 games – almost good enough to make the League’s top 30, but pretty poor by Hossa’s high standards. The previous year he picked up 55 points playing in the colors of Dinamo Riga.

Hossa’s arrival brings the number of foreign players at Spartak to six – which is one too many. We will most likely know quite soon which one will have to head for the exit.

Hard taskmaster
Sergei Mikhalev has criticized his players for being out of shape on return from their vacations. The Gagarin Cup holders’ new head coach put his charges through the 12-minute Cooper test, and it seems not all the results pleased the coach. However, in recent years many coaches have abandoned the Cooper test, believing it to be of little use to players. And while long runs may be a necessary evil, it is bursts of speed over short distances which are really vital to hockey players.

Box office
Barys has announced the ticket prices for games in the President of Kazakhstan Cup tournament, which runs from the 9th to the 13th of August. Joining the hosts will be Amur, Yugra, and Kaztsink-Torpedo of Ust-Kamenogorsk. Spectators will have to part with 250-500 Kazakh tenge for daytime games, while for evening games the prices rise to 500-1000 tenge, meaning even the most expensive seat is still under $7.

Quote of the day
"We’ll become a very fast team; we’ll be trying to switch from defense to attack with real pace and score plenty of goals," new Lokomotiv head coach Brad McCrimmon gives advance warning of his team’s playing style. It has to be said that these tactics are best suited to younger players, whereas most of the Yaroslavl outfit’s new arrivals have been seasoned veterans.

Alexei Shevchenko, special to

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