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Wings' Hudler Signs in Russia

Jul 8, 2009 – 4:00 PM
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Bruce Ciskie

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Former Red Wing Jiri Hudler has signed to play in the Kontinental Hockey League.It's been a rough month or so for the Detroit Red Wings.

They lost the last two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, eventually falling to Pittsburgh in an epic seventh game. When free agency started, the Red Wings started losing players. Marian Hossa (Chicago), Tomas Kopecky (Chicago), and Mikael Samuelsson (Vancouver) signed with Western Conference rivals. Now, the Wings have lost a good young player to the Kontinental Hockey League.

Jiri Hudler had a contract offer on the table from the Red Wings after scoring a career-high 23 goals and 57 points. Since he'll turn 26 in January, Hudler is the kind of player the Wings knew they had to keep, because he can play the two-way game, and his minutes were only going to increase with Hossa, Kopecky, and Samuelsson being gone.

However, Hudler received a very lucrative offer from Moscow Dynamo of the KHL, and he's taking it.
"It's a real possibility he's going to take this (Russian) offer,'' Holland said. "He'd be taking a lot less money to stay in the NHL.''

... Holland said he not yet heard back from Hudler's North American agent, Petr Svoboda, but that if reports that Hudler had signed the Russian deal are true he would "go on the assumption that he's gone."
It's hard to blame Hudler. TSN reports that the Moscow deal is worth $2 million, while Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports that the deal is worth "significantly more" than that, plus it's tax-free.

Kukla's Korner was able to get a hold of quotes from Hudler's press conference, and it sounds as if he isn't playing games with the Red Wings.
In Detroit there is wasn't (sic) place for me and I didn't want to go to another club. So i didn't ask for a trade. Then came Dynamo with their offer.

I started thinking about it and decided to go to Russia. It was tough but this is not a question of life or death. It is only hockey.

The KHL is good league. I should be one of the key players so it could help me in my career. I don't think I will close the door to NHL. I am young and there are still 13 years until the end of my career. I want my career to be more colorful.
In a year or two, Hudler could re-surface in the NHL. For now, it appears he's heading overseas.
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