While the NHL’s playoffs won’t start until mid-May, the Kontinental Hockey League has already crowned its latest champion. Avangard Omsk defeated CSKA Moscow today 1-0 to take the Gagarin Cup final in six games. CSKA went up 2-1 in the series after three games before Avangard took control and won the next three games. Coached by former Colorado Avalanche coach Bob Hartley, with whom he won the Stanley Cup, this is the second Gagarin Cup final featuring these two teams. Last time, CSKA took the Cup. This time, it was Omsk’s.
Why is this a big deal for Blues fans? Just some guy named Klim Kostin.
Kostin’s a Gagarin Cup champion, which means now he can return to the NHL. The forward tallied seven goals and 11 assists in 43 regular season KHL games with an additional five goals and nine assists in 23 postseason games. His upgrade in production was a welcome sign for more than Hartley; Kostin has heated up just in enough time to help the Blues out potentially in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, due to league protocols, which are more stringent than the CDC protocols, there will be a 14 day quarantine for Kostin if he does return to North America.
With the Blues’ injury problems this year, it’ll be good to have someone with a Cup ring to call on if someone else goes down during the playoffs. Sure, it’s not a Stanley Cup ring, but the Blues have enough of those already. Why not mix it up?