Alex Ovechkin is going back to where it all began.
The Washington Capitals star will reportedly sign with Dynamo Moscow of the KHL, the team he started his pro career with in 2001-02, according to Sport-Express. But Ovechkin's Russia-based agent, Gleb Chistyakov, told Yahoo! Sports that he was still negotiating with Dynamo and another Moscow team, CSKA.
Dynamo general manager Andrey Safronov previously said he would take a run at signing Ovechkin in the event of an NHL lockout. And it sounds like Ovechkin is prepared to stay in his motherland for the entire season.
"If the league keeps holding its ground, the lockout may last the entire year," Ovechkin told Sovietsky Sport. "We are not planning to give up, either. That way I could spend the entire season with KHL. It's quite possible."
Ovechkin turned pro at 16 with Dynamo, when the club was part of the Russian Superleague. In 151 games with Moscow, he had 36 goals and 33 assists.
He was also hired as an adviser to Dynamo two years ago and still attends promotional events for the team.
Apparently another team thinks Ilya Kovalchuk is captain material.
It's just not the one you'd expect -- the New Jersey Devils, who lost captain Zach Parise to the Minnesota Wild during the off-season.
Kovalchuk was named captain of SKA St. Petersburg Tuesday, a day after he bolted to the KHL. The league tweeted a photo of Kovalchuk being introduced to the Russian media while holding up an SKA jersey with the captain's "C" on it.
It's not the first time Kovalchuk has played in Russia during an NHL lockout. In 2004-05, he played 53 games for Ak Bars Kazan, recording 19 goals and 22 assists.
Even though the KHL season has already started, Kovalchuk is not expected to play until Sept. 23.
Like all other locked-out NHLers who opt to play in Europe this season, Kovalchuk, who previously served as captain of the Atlanta Thrashers, has an out clause in his contract with St. Petersburg that will allow him to return to the NHL when the lockout ends.
PANTHERS CUT STAFF
A day after the Ottawa Senators laid off staff due to the NHL lockout, the Florida Panthers followed suit Tuesday.
Although the lockout is still in its infancy, the Panthers were forced to make "staff adjustments" to the employees of the team and its parent company, Sunrise Sports and Entertainment. The number of employees laid off was not announced, although mascot Stanley C. Panther was reportedly a casualty.
"Due primarily to the NHL work stoppage, but also due to changes and efficiencies in our normal business operations, SSE and the Florida Panthers instituted a number of staff adjustments today including staff reductions," Panthers president Michael Yormark said in a statement. "We thank all of those former staff members for their efforts."
The Senators laid off "more than 10" and possibly closer to 40 full-time employees Monday.
DRAFT PICKS IN HOT WATER
Andrew MacWilliam and Danny Kristo, draft picks of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens respectively, were two of four players suspended for the season opener by the North Dakota Fighting Sioux because of a violation of team rules.
Captain MacWilliam and alternates Kristo, Corban Knight and Carter Rowney were suspended in the wake of a team party Saturday.
"The behaviour in this situation was unacceptable," North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison said. "Measures taken by the athletics department do not preclude possible additional measures by the department, or actions by the university or local and state authorities."
Kristo, 22, was a second-round draft pick in 2008. MacWillliam was drafted in the seventh round in 2008, while Knight was a fifth-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2009. Rowney, who is undrafted, was invited to a Calgary Flames development camp in the summer.
Faison also announced a community service program for the team and weekly alcohol education programs. Faison would not offer further comment.
LEAFS INK COACH?
Signs are pointing to Rick St. Croix being hired as the next goaltending coach of Toronto the Maple Leafs.
With Francois Allaire officially out of the picture, St. Croix could be named to the position some time in the next few days.
Leafs goalie James Reimer is heading to Winnipeg later this week to work with St. Croix, who most recently has been the goaltender coach for the AHL's St. John's IceCaps, the farm team of the Winnipeg Jets.
St. Croix, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Leafs in an NHL career that ended in 1985, was the Dallas Stars' goalie coach in 1999, when the team won the Stanley Cup with Ed Belfour in goal.
St. Croix and Leafs coach Randy Carlyle have a history together, having worked together with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.
Among those who also have benefited from St. Croix's teachings are Cory Schneider, who has pushed Roberto Luongo out of the starter's role with the Vancouver Canucks, and Canucks prospect Eddie Lack.
The Washington Capitals cancelled Thursday's rookie game against the Philadelphia Flyers due to the NHL lockout ... St. Louis Blues forward Patrik Berglund has reportedly signed with Vasteras of Sweden's second division. San Jose Sharks defenceman Douglas Murray is close to signing with Djugardens, a former Swedish Elite League power that was relegated to the second division last season ... Reports out of Russia say Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom will sign with Dynamo Minsk of the KHL. The Star-Tribune reports that the only thing holding up the signing is insurance and visa issues ... Buffalo Sabres defenceman Christian Ehrhoff officially signed with the Krefeld Penguins of the top German league. He is expected to play Friday.