Defenseman Fedor Tyutin skated with Blue Jackets teammates for the first time yesterday after a drama-free return from Russia.
“It was good,” Tyutin said of the two months he spent playing for Atlant of the Continental Hockey League during the NHL lockout. “It was a good time and a good group of guys to play with.”
Tyutin, beginning his fifth season with the Blue Jackets, said he wasn’t pressured to stay in his native country. His return to Columbus before training camp was a given, but he said the decision by fellow Russians Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk to remain in Russia for the KHL All-Star Game on Sunday was theirs to make.
“We’re all big boys,” Tyutin said. “Everybody can decide for themselves what is best for them and their families.”
Datsyuk and Kovalchuk reportedly will return to Detroit and New Jersey, respectively, by the middle of next week. But their delayed return caused a stir, as did the defiant bluster of KHL president Alexander Medvedev.
A Russian report indicated that Medvedev disparaged the NHL and had pledged to help NHL players in his league stay there if they wanted to in spite of potential sanctions by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Tyutin was one of four Blue Jackets players in the KHL during the lockout. Forward Artem Anisimov, acquired by the Blue Jackets in the Rick Nash trade, also participated in yesterday’s skate. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, acquired from Philadelphia in June, was in town yesterday but did not skate. Defenseman Nikita Nikitin was expected to arrive last night or today.
Tyutin said he stayed healthy in Russia and was “100 percent” ready for training camp. He missed the final 16 games of last season because of a broken right hand.
The NHL Players’ Association will conclude voting for the ratification of the new labor agreement, and the Blue Jackets will begin taking preseason physicals this morning.
Another informal skate is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Ice Haus, although it is unclear how many players might participate. Training camp is expected to begin at noon on Sunday, also at the Ice Haus. All practices at the Ice Haus are open to the public.
Connor Murphy of Dublin will miss the rest of his season with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League because of a knee injury suffered while playing for the gold-medal winning United States team in the world junior championship. Murphy was a first-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2011. … Defensemen John Moore and Cam Atkinson returned to Columbus yesterday. … Several more players from minor-league Springfield will be held out of a game tonight at Providence and will be in Columbus for the start of training camp, general manager Scott Howson said. … The NHL schedule is expected to be released today.