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Ilya Bryzgalov Believes Russian Stars May Stay in KHL After Lockout

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov stated in a recent interview that he believes some NHL players may decide to stay in the Kontinental Hockey League following the completion of the NHL lockout.

Citing major companies who will be willing to pay a few top Russian stars big money to remain in the KHL, Bryzgalov believes the comforts of home will be attractive enough to keep some players overseas.

The 32-year-old goaltender signed a nine-year, $51 million contract with Philadelphia last June, but did not include himself as a player who would be interested in staying in Russia after the lockout. He is currently playing with CSKA Moscow of the KHL.

His comments, via TSN.ca:

"I think some of the players may not return to the NHL because you have everything here and major companies are going to pay the top players here big money. And, especially for Russians players who can play at home in front of their own fans and families and [earn] even bigger money than they have in the National Hockey League. The KHL can't feed all the players, but for some big players - especially those with Russian passports - it might be a threat."

While some players may be interested in staying in the KHL after the lockout is lifted, any player signed with an NHL team will be forced to return to the NHL due to the memo of understanding between the two leagues, which was renewed this past July.

The memo of understanding is an agreement between the KHL and NHL that requires the two sides to respect the professional contracts of both leagues. 

If a player with an NHL contract were to stay in the KHL after the lockout was lifted, the International Ice Hockey Federation would bring down sanctions, which would include the player’s suspension from all international play.

With the 2014 winter Olympics being held in Sochi, one would venture to guess several Russian players are looking forward to representing their country on home turf.

The length of the agreement runs until June 30, 2013.

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