Imagine this happening in Washington: Alex Ovechkin shows up at Verizon Center coughing and wheezing due to bronchitis and a high fever.
Capitals coach Adam Oates decides his 27-year-old superstar is too ill to play, but makes him available to sign autographs on the concourse during the second intermission.
Never happen, right?
It did in Moscow Monday night when Ovechkin sat out Dynamo Moscow’s KHL game against Dinamo Riga, but spent the entire second intermission signing hundreds of autographs to a sea of fans.
If nothing else, the scene in Moscow reminds us just how much Ovechkin is adored in his hometown and the kind of threat the KHL poses to the NHL during the current work stoppage, now in its 45th day.
For the record, Nicklas Backstrom scored his first KHL goal in Dynamo’s 3-1 win.
In other European news, former Capitals forward Matt Bradley has signed with Tuto of the Tier II Finnish League. Bradley, 34, enjoyed his best NHL season in Washington in 2009-10 when he recorded 10 goals and 14 assists.
He left the Caps in the summer of 2011 and signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers. But after Bradley recorded just three goals and five assists in 45 games and sat out the final 24 games with a concussion, the Panthers bought out the final year of his contract, paying him two-thirds of his $1 million salary for 2012-13.
Bradley, you may recall, was highly critical of former teammate Alex Semin after leaving the Capitals.