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Flyers Jakub Voracek Injured; Ilya Brygalov's Words About Russian Players Not Returning To NHL

While word came Sunday that Voracek suffered a "bad knee injury" over the weekend, could Brygzalov have a point about Russian players not returning to the NHL once the lockout ends?

As the NHL lockout passed the three week mark, it may seem as though not much is going on with regards to the ongoing CBA negotiations. There has, however, been news involving players of the Philadelphia Flyers.

And unfortunately, it's nothing good.

CSNPhilly's Tim Panaccio reported via Twitter early Sunday afternoon a source told him that winger Jakub Voracek suffered a "bad knee injury over the weekend" while playing for HC Lev Praha of the KHL.

That was confirmed a short time ago by the Czech's SportovniNoviny (translated):

Voracek was injured in the third period of Saturday's game against SKA, when after a foul Maxima Cudinova prematurely resigned with injured knee and then graduated medical examination.

Voracek during the lockout in the NHL has played seven games for Lev and balance one goal and six assists is the third most productive rookie KHL player.

For Flyers fans who have been crushed with the absence of training camp and pre-season games in preparation for what was to be opening night of the 2012/13 campaign next Thursday against the Boston Bruins, this has to be troublesome news. With fellow countryman Jaromir Jagr having signed as an UFA with the Dallas Stars over the summer, Voracek was slated to takeover the vacated right wing spot on the club's top line. The 23-year-old had enjoyed some success during the playoffs on the right side of Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell when Jagr was nursing an ailing groin strain.

The severity of Voracek's knee injury is not yet known but if the lockout is resolved in time to salvage a good portion of the season, it has to be a concern if he will be ready.

If not, it's likely that Wayne Simmonds would get a long look for top line duty.


Philadelphia goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov -- currently struggling for CSKA Moscow of the KHL -- made headlines Saturday when he stated he wouldn't be surprised to see Russian players who have signed KHL deals not return to the NHL once the lockout is concluded.

"I think some of the players may not return to the NHL because they have everything here and major companies are going to pay the top players here big money. And especially for Russian players who can at home in front of their own fans and families and earn even bigger money than they have in the National Hockey League."

This is a sentiment already expressed by Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who is playing with the KHL's Dynamo Moscow. When the NHL announced the cancellation of the pre-season, Ovechkin raised the issue when he said the following to Russian news outlet RIA Novosti:

"It will depend on what kind of conditions there will be in the NHL with the new CBA. If our contracts get slashed, I will have to think whether to return there or not. I won't rule out staying in the KHL, even after this season."

And there is no mincing words as to whom Bryz lays the blame for the situation:

"NHL owners, they create this situation and they put themselves into this situation. Like I said before, they have to take responsibility for their own actions. If you watch what they did consistently, like saying 'It's going to be lockout. We're not happy with the system, we can't operate with the system that we had'. And they continued to sign players during the negotiation process, signing the players to long-term contracts for big amounts."

The NHL and KHL have an agreement in place regarding such contracts and by not returning to the NHL. Ovechkin would violate his contract with the Capitals -- which runs through the 2020/21 campaign.

But could there be a legal battle between the two leagues once the NHL says they're ready for their players to come back to their North American teams? Could it be argued that the owners' demand of the players to take a reported 17% pay cut in order to be able to play in the NHL is a breach of contact?

If the NHLPA concedes and agrees to the lower salary it might be a moot point, but if the players don't back down this time around -- as they did when they relented to a 24% salary rollback in 2005 -- this could be a point of contention.

Chances are this is just a posturing move on the part of the players, but it may just be something to keep an eye on down the road when there is finally an accord reached in the ongoing NHL CBA mess.

If there is to be any challenges to the NHL and KHL's agreement to honor contracts, there could the threat of sanctions from the IIHF, as well as issues being raised as to NHL players availability for the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi.