If there is no collective bargaining agreement reached between the National Hockey League and its Players’ Association before Jan. 11 resulting in the cancellation of the 2012-13 season, Pittsburgh Penguins star defenceman Kris Letang will head to Russia.
The 25-year-old signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League, the team announced Friday. Obviously, one stipulation in the deal is if the lockout ends Letang would rejoin the Penguins and play in the NHL.
Letang’s decision to sign overseas is the opposite of what many players have been doing of late. A handful of NHLers playing in Europe have been coming back to North America in anticipation of an NHL season. Most recently Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators recently left his Swiss club to return to Canada.
The Montreal native joins an SKA St. Petersburg team that has current NHLers Ilya Kovalchuk, Sergei Bobrovsky and St. Louis Blues 2010 first-round draft pick Vladimir Tarasenko, plus former NHLers Maxim Afinogenov, Dmitri Kalinin, Petr Prucha and Alexei Semenov on its roster.
Letang becomes the second Canadian on St. Petersburg joining former NHL defenceman Kevin Dallman of Niagara Falls, Ont.
In 51 games with the Penguins last season Letang had 10 goals and 32 assists. His teammate Evgeni Malkin is also playing in the KHL for his hometown team Metallurg Magnitogorsk.