I give the Montreal press corps a hard ride sometimes, so it's in my mind that I should pay them compliments when I see their good work.
I am not all that enamoured by the tempest they have created by making Markov's last game in the KHL a big issue. But compared to how it could have gone, they did some positively textbook journalism.
The interesting coincidence today was that two stories about Russian games played were the focus of different media hubs. On our side of the Habs fence, it was all about Markov. On the other side, a story about Kovalchuk having played in St. Petersburg.
The difference in approach was marked. For Markov, we ended up with a story about the game complete with quotes from Markov with his explanation of the affair. For Kovalchuk, a report that he played, followed by quotes from anyone and everyone not named Kovalchuk. The only quote from Ilya was second hand from the notoriously misinterpreted Russian hockey media.
It seems to me that the same story played out twice. The difference is that in Montreal a reporter (or perhaps several) actually bothered to pick up the phone to consult the subject of the "controversy". The other report either neglected that diligence or thought it would get in the way of the Russian script it wanted to play on the day.
Good job to Montreal for getting the story straight and avoiding the over-the-top sensation of a story like Kovalchuk's. If anyone really thinks the guy with one of the best contracts in the whole league won't come back to get his payday, they're clearly mad.
As for playing in those Russian contests, I mostly approve. The two players are playing out their commitment and honouring the teams that helped them play some good hockey in an exceptional circumstance. Being that they're both Russian, I'm sure they'd have been criticized for up sticks and leaving if they had done just that.