Mukhamadullin Joins Comets as Utica Prepares for AHL Playoff Run

Amanda Stein reported yesterday that the Utica Comets will have an addition to their roster when they kick off their quest for the Calder Cup tonight against the Rochester Americans.

Twenty-year-old defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin was assigned to the Comets from Yulaev Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League and is expected to make his North American debut with Utica in their North Division Semifinal Calder Cup Playoff series.

Stein did say that he will practice with the Comets in the meantime, but at the moment, “game play is yet to be determined.”

Stein referenced Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald saying in his end-of-season press conference “that Mukhamadullin had [received] his visa, and would join the Comets as they prepare for their Calder Cup run.”

Fitzgerald wants the 6-foot, 4-inch blue liner to get familiar with the North American-style of hockey before fully throwing him into a game situation.

The Devils GM was quoted by Stein as saying: “He’ll go down to Utica, he’ll watch. Will he get in some games, depending on the series. We just want to make sure that we put him in a situation that he’s comfortable with, that he’s comfortable with that he’s growing, but with language barrier, North American type of hockey, it should be a [sic] great seeing him on the ice with our prospects.”

Mukhamadullin signed his three-year Entry Level Contract back on December 21, 2021 as Stein mentioned in her article.

The Comets get things started in the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs in the North Division Semifinals against the Amerks as they play game one in Utica tonight. I will have some coverage of that here on the blog along with the NHL Draft Lottery, which is being shown on ESPN and ESPN+ tonight.

In other news reported yesterday regarding a springtime tournament, Catherine Bogart is reporting that Devils defenseman Ryan Graves has been added to Canada’s roster for the 2022 World Hockey Championship.

He will join fellow Devils d-man Damon Severson as well as Devils forward Dawson Mercer on the Canada roster for the tournament.

Bogart mentioned that this will be Graves’ first time representing Canada at the World Championship.

Overall, Graves will be the eighth Devil to participate in this year’s Worlds, as in addition to the three on Canada’s roster, Nico Hischier and Jonas Siegenthaler will also play for Switzerland while goaltender Jon Gillies will suit up for the United States and Tomas Tatar will appear for Slovakia.

In addition, Devils defensive prospect Luke Hughes will also play for Team USA.

The 2022 IIHF World Hockey Championship will begin on Friday, May 13 in Finland. Again, I will attempt to keep up with results here as best as I can.

Also, speaking of Devils defensemen, PK Subban has been working as a studio analyst for ESPN’s Stanley Cup Playoff coverage. He appeared on the intermission reports of the Rangers loss to the Penguins last night along with anchor John Buccigross and fellow analyst/former NHL defeneman Chris Chelios. He joins Bryce Salvador, who has been an ice-level reporter and analyst for TNT and TBS – working the Panthers overtime win over the Capitals yesterday and Erika Wachter, who has been reporting for the Flames-Stars series for Turner as well.

And finally, as we round out the news being reported on the Devils app, Sam Kasan recently talked about the newest addition of the “Speak of the Devils” podcast – the team’s in-house produced podcast.

This week’s guest is Greg Wyshynski, the hockey analyst and reporter for ESPN. Wyshynski grew up in Matawan, New Jersey and as a Devils fan.

He spoke on the podcast about how he became a fan of the Devils – his father was an Islanders fan when young Greg was just starting his hockey fandom – which coincided with the Devils’ unlikely playoff run in 1988 that concluded only with a seven-game loss to the Boston Bruins in the Wales Conference Finals.

He also related the story about how he and his father ended up at the Meadowlands Arena for game four of the 1995 Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings and got to witness the Devils complete the sweep of the powerhouse Wings and hoist the Cup for the first time.

In addition to all of that, he goes over how he brought his fandom to his journalism once he broke into the sports writing business, something that was simply not done at the time.

Kasan listed some other topics that came up on the podcast episode including, looking at the 2021-22 Devils season, why Wyshynski feels optimistic for the Devils’ future, how he feels Hischier is underrated, Dougie Hamilton’s first season with the Devils, what the Devils will need for 2022-23, his overall Devils fandom and his favorite players over the years, how he became a journalist, the “emergence of blogging” and his current career at ESPN.

I would certainly recommend giving it a listen as Wyshynski is always entertaining and is someone does tend to wear his fandom (both of the Devils and of hockey in general) on his sleeve.

IIHF Announces WJC Resumption and Sanctions Against Russia, Belarus

Some news that I never really addressed back in February involving the International Ice Hockey Federation.

First off, it was announced back on February 28 that the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, postponed back in December amid concerns about COVID-19, will resume later this summer. released a statement back in late February from IIHF President Luc Tardif that – a statement originally made at the closing of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing – that the 2022 WJC will resume “in the middle of August in Alberta (Canada). It will be a new competition, which means we forget the results (in December).”

The original 2022 WJC tournament, which began the day after Christmas in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, needed to be postponed after just four days of games were completed. The United States, Czechia and Russia each forfeited prelim games after outbreaks of COVID-19 in their camps. quoted Tardif as saying that the new tournament “could consist of the same rosters each country had in December, regardless of whether those players turn 20 before the new tournament.” The World Juniors are an under-20 tournament.

Tardif continued that, since the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup – a tournament for under-18 players – will be also scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer in the first week of August, “We are talking with all participants and are negotiating on details. It will be after the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. It will be a hockey festival and the team are excited to do it.”

The USA was supposed to participate in Group B with Russia, Sweden, Slovakia and Switzerland. Group A would feature Canada, Finland, Czechia, Germany and Austria.

Belarus had been promoted to the top tournament after winning the 2022 World Junior Championship Division I, Group A tournament.

However, real world events in the weeks since have thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into the rebooting of this tournament, as well as the IIHF going forward for a while.

At the same meeting held by the IIHF on February 28 that decided the rescheduling of the 2022 WJC, the IIHF Council also addressed the issue of Russian aggression towards Ukraine and subsequent military force being used against the Ukrainians.

The IIHF decided that in light of actions taken by both Russia and their ally Belarus, both Russian and Belarusian National Teams and Clubs have been suspended “from participation in every age category and in all IIHF competitions or events until further notice” according to a press release put out by the IIHF.

In addition, the IIHF has withdrawn “the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship hosting rights from Russia.”

This was done to “enable the IIHF to ensure the safety of IIHF Championships and all participating players, officials, and fans.”

Teams suspended include: Belarusian club team HK Gomel from the 2022 IIHF Continental Cup on March 4 to 6, Russian and Belarusian men’s U18 teams in the 2022 IIHF U18 World Championship (April 21-May 1), ROC and Belarus men’s national teams at the 2022 World Championship (May 13-29), the Russian U18 women’s national team at the 2022 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship (with dates TBD), the Russian men’s U20 national team at the aforementioned 2022 World Junior Championship in August and the ROC women’s national team at the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship (August 26-September 4).

The statement put out by the IIHF mentioned that the “IIHF Council also took into account the Russian government’s breach of the Olympic Truce, which was adopted in December 2021 as a UN resolution by United Nations General Assembly. The breach of the Olympic Truce led to a condemnation by the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board last week.”

Tardif said: “The IIHF is not a political entity and cannot influence the decisions being taken over the war in Ukraine. We nevertheless have a duty of care to all of our members and participants and must therefore do all we can to ensure that we are able to operate our events in a safe environment for all teams taking part in the IIHF World Championship program.

“We were incredibly shocked to see the images that have come out of Ukraine. I have been in close contact with members of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine and we hope for all Ukrainians that this conflict can be resolved in a peaceful way and without the need for further violence.”

Closer to home on the same day, the National Hockey League also announced how they would be taking sanctions against Russia following the military attack on Ukraine.

According to a report by The Athletic Staff posted to The Athletic back on February 28, the NHL suspended “its relationships with ‘business partners in Russia’” effective immediately that day. It was also reported that the league paused “its ‘Russian language social and digital media sites.’”

Russia has also been taken out of consideration “as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL” as a condemnation of “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” and it “urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible.”

The NHL did acknowledge that Russian players are being put in a tough position and noted that they “play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL Clubs, and not on behalf of Russia.” The league said that they “understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position.”

The Athletic report noted that “Dan Milstein, an agent or some of Russia’s top NHL players, told Pierre LeBrun that teams have been providing extra security” for his clients and that “[e]veryone has been very, very supportive. My clients are extremely appreciative of the support received.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed that the NHL “has ‘reached out to all clubs who have Russian players to offer resources and coordinate responses as appropriate” according to The Athletic.

Some of the Russian partners affected by the sanctions include sports betting company Liga Stavok, who became the NHL’s “first league-wide exclusive Russian business partner … on a three-year deal in November” and Russian TV partner Yandex. The NHL and Yandex had just “signed a two-year contract extension in January. As part of the deal, the league launched a 24-hour NHL channel on their website.”