On September 24 it was reported by North American media (including this website) that Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin had signed a lockout contract with Ak-Bars Kazan, the KHL team for whom he played four seasons before signing with the Canadiens in 2011. Emelin was in Kazan for their training camp and gave an interview to the Ak-Bars website after watching the team’s opening game. He hasn’t been seen since and there has been no notification in international hockey data bases of a contract registration.
The story of the reported contract flew in the face of a September 17th official release from the team’s communications department that the Ak-Bars “club would not conduct negotiations and do not plan to sign any short-term contract with NHL players, because (the) duration of the lock out is undefined.” Unlike a number of other KHL clubs, Ak-Bars has followed through with it’s stated policy. Monday night Kazan played it’s eleventh game of the season, a 5-2 loss in St. Petersburg. No sign of Emelin.
Right now he is the Canadiens mystery man. No reports of his whereabouts in Russia and no sign of him here in Montreal where many of his European teammates including Andrei Markov have been working out. The last time the Canadiens heard from him on an official basis was July first when Marc Bergevin signed him to a new two year contract. The team is not allowed to have contact with him during the lockout. They can only hope he’s following the team’s summertime conditioning programme and will report to eventual training camp in better shape than he did last fall.
With the absence of Emelin, that leaves five members off the Canadiens roster still active in Europe; Tomas Plekanec and Tomas Kaberle in the Czech Republic plus Max Pacioretty, Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber in Switzerland.