Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Grahame heads to Russia to appeal
By Scott Burnside
Former NHL goaltender John Grahame, who had his contract terminated in December by his Continental Hockey League team, Avangard Omsk, will return to Moscow on Jan. 14 to appeal, ESPN.com has learned.
Grahame is disputing Russian media reports that describe an alcohol-related incident at an Omsk nightclub, which may have contributed to his termination. Russian newspaper Sport Express wrote that Grahame was released for "repeated occasions of regime breach by Grahame that was expressed in common alcoholism."
"We're trying to be very professional in a very unprofessional situation," Grahame said Wednesday.
Grahame told ESPN.com that he did not want to discuss the details of the case before the hearing but that the allegations and newspaper reports are "100 percent false."
According to a source familiar with the incident, Grahame was arrested with a group of men at a Russian club. While in custody Grahame was reportedly told he could obtain his freedom from jail by signing a document that annulled his contract. Grahame refused and was ultimately released, the source said.
KHL officials confirmed to ESPN.com there is a hearing appealing the contract's termination but did not respond to requests for comment on the specifics surrounding Grahame's arrest and/or contract termination.
Avangard Omsk is coached by former Canadian national team coaching staff member and NHL assistant Wayne Fleming and features star player Jaromir Jagr.
Grahame, 33, was 9-10-2 with a 2.86 GAA and .896 save percentage in Russia, according to Hockeydb.com. He has played in 224 NHL games with Boston, Tampa Bay and Carolina and was the backup to Nikolai Khabibulin when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004.
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.