Pavel Brendl - KHL Superstar

Brendl jersey seen at the RBC during the 2009 playoffs.

There has been a lot of talk recently about players heading for, or leaving the KHL.  Viktor Kozlov just signed to play there, (apparently he couldn't wait to get out of Washington?).  Rumor has it that Michael Nylander, (also of fhe Caps) and Frantisek Kaberle, (believe it when you see it), might play there next year as well. Although Nylander's wife reportedly did not want to live in Edmonton and it's not yet been confirmed if she will approve of her possible new digs in Omsk, Russia.

On the flip side, the Flyers just signed Ray Emery to a contract, (perfect fit there), after the goalie spent a season in KHL exile because of a variety of problems in Ottawa.  There are also rumblings about the possible return of Jaromir Jagr and Alexander Radulov.  Radulov broke his contract with Nashville in order to pursue his dream of playing in the homeland, but seems to have been wishy-washy about his decision in recent months. 

With all of this talk about some KHL stars possibly returning to the NHL, I looked up the league stat sheet to see where these guys stood.  Much to my surprise, who was at the top of the goal scoring heap?  None other than ex-Hurricane, Pavel Brendl.   

The Hurricanes acquired Brendl from the Philadelphia Flyers back during the 2002-03 season when they traded away fan favorite, Sami Kapanen, in a salary dump move.  The deal also included spare parts, Ryan Bast (to the Flyers) and Bruno St. Jacques, (to the Canes).  Kapanen was once dubbed, "the fastest skater in the NHL".  Little did the Canes know that they would be replacing him with the exact opposite. 

The Czech native was an enigma his brief time in the NHL.  The New York Rangers selected him fourth overall in the 1999 NHL entry draft.  He was a scoring machine in the juniors, knocking in 73 goals and 61 assists in just 68 games in his first season with the Calgary Hitmen.  He finished his three year juniors career by scoring an amazing 172 goals in 178 games and had 320 total points.  But instead of being a phenom in the big leagues, he turned out to be a dud.  

In 2001, the Rangers traded the prospect to the Flyers in a multi-player deal which brought superstar Eric Lindros to Broadway.   The Flyers played him 50 games over a two year period before giving up on him, but he played even fewer games for the Canes, (26).  In 2003-04 he was eventually sent to the minor leagues where he languished until Carolina traded him in 2005 to Phoenix for Krys Kolanos.  (Eventually, Kolanos was included in the trade to the Pens for Mark Recchi).    

Word on the street was that the youngster had a very poor work ethic.  While he was able to excel using skill alone in the junior league, his skill could not translate to success in the NHL without enough elbow grease to go along with it.  His nonchalant, seemingly lazy attitude did not sit well with many fans and some Caniacs nicknamed him "Krispy Kreme" because he was allegedly seen multiple times at the doughnut place in North Raleigh.  It also looked like the skater gained some weight, (unconfirmed), during his brief stay in Carolina. 

So that is the legend of Pavel Brendl, a washout in Carolina, but now a league leader with 35 goals in the KHL.  He obviously still has some fans in the area, (see photo above, taken thanks to a heads up by Mike Maniscalco).  Will the one-time junior league superstar try to make an NHL comeback?  If he does, it won't be for the Hurricanes.

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