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Rotenberg Comments on Matvei Michkov, Flyers Rumors: ‘We must support him’

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Matvei Michkov
(Photo: HK Sochi)

We now have our first confirmation that there is something of substance behind the Matvei Michkov rumors that suggest the KHL starlet will terminate his KHL contract to join the Philadelphia Flyers. In fact, it has come straight from the mouth of the horse himself, Roman Rotenberg.

Rotenberg effectively confirmed that there is dialogue with the Flyers in an interview with MatchTV on Monday.

“There is officially no solution. And you can’t say that we are letting someone go. You see, this is a serious question,” Rotenberg said of the Flyers prospect. “We can talk about some kind of agreement, including rights. You know that Michkov is a high-level player. And if someone wants to buy these rights, let’s discuss.”

Rotenberg is, of course, referring to Michkov potentially buying out his KHL contract to leave for the NHL. This is a normal procedure permitted in the KHL; however, the caveat is that the money must be fronted by Michkov himself, free from any interference by the Flyers or another third party. That’s the rule for any KHL player, not just Michkov.

Sunday’s report from Sport-Express claimed that Michkov’s KHL rights would remain with SKA St. Petersburg if a buyout takes place.

“I do not want to reveal trade secrets. But you understand that we have invested a lot in Matvei. And if he does not become the leader of Philadelphia, then we will definitely wait for him back to the KHL,” Rotenberg elaborated. “And I emphasize that the whole story was influenced by the family situation of Michkov. We must support him in this. This is not hockey, but a family issue. And we all must support Matvei.”

Rotenberg is talking about the passing of Michkov’s father, Andrei, who was confirmed to be deceased on April 4, 2023 after his body was found near a pond in Sochi two days after being reported missing. The Russian Ice Hockey Federation had announced that the elder Michkov passed away in “unexplained circumstances”.

The younger Michkov just finished his second KHL season playing for HK Sochi and could have been headed for a third. Rotenberg left the 19-year-old off of the Russian U25 national team this spring, and Michkov was usually a reserve forward or a healthy scratch under him with SKA St. Petersburg.

Thus, if Michkov is determined to avoid Sochi and can’t compromise with Rotenberg, the Flyers are the next best option.

“But we want to support Matvei as a family. We want to give him the opportunity to develop,” Rotenberg added. “If, for example, he cannot play in the first team in Philadelphia and will not receive the first majority there if he is sent to the AHL, or even to the ECHL, then we will do everything to ensure that Michkov returns and plays only in KHL. I say again, these issues are still in the dialogue. We want Matvei to get the most support in his family situation. After all, family values are above all.

“However, if he does not play in the first team in Philadelphia, he will return to us. That’s all.”

Rotenberg’s comments echo a sentiment earlier shared by SKA chairman Alexander Medvedev. “I think it’s better to leave like Ovechkin or Panarin. When you have already established yourself in Russia, and you are not going to North America to travel between the NHL and the AHL,” he said.

The two Russian leaders share pride for their players being the best anywhere they go, so if Michkov joined the Flyers and could not succeed right away, they would consider it an embarrassment. Michkov is already a star talent in the KHL, which is likely why they’d want him back if he can’t hack it with the Flyers out of the gate.

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