Vladimir Sobotka has been run through the wringer. The St. Louis Blues and their fans have gone through just about everything waiting as well.
It seems as though everything involving Vladimir Sobotka these days would make great fodder for the latest soap operas. It has been a never ending saga of will-he, won’t-he and all sorts of twists in between.
The latest scuttlebutt seems to indicate that the player has every intention of returning to the St. Louis Blues. However, whether it is due to his agent or forces in Russia, he may not be allowed to.
Sobotka was talking about things during media day, prior to the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. He is scheduled to be in the lineup for Team Czech Republic for the international tournament, but that’s another hiccup.
There is no certainty Sobotka will be ready for the first game. He is expected to play in the tournament eventually though.
Sobotka suffered a shoulder/clavicle injury during a pre-tournament exhibition with Team Russia. He has been listed as day-to-day since then. He did not dress for the team’s last game prior to arriving in Toronto.
Many fans and media have bought into the entire story. Logical people figured there was no way Sobotka would be returning overseas since the KHL season already began and the tournament is in Canada. However, dark clouds are forming.
Sobotka vented his frustrations to the media. “It’s been going on for five months, so I’ve had enough of it,” said Sobotka, regarding the ongoing discussions with Avangard Omsk.
“I’m not thinking about it,” he continued. “It’s just getting ready for workouts. I don’t want to think about it anymore.”
The only optimistic part of those statements could be the term “workouts.” With the tournament beginning on Saturday, there likely is not time for many workouts with the Czechs.
So, perhaps Sobotka is referring to the upcoming Blues camp. That begins almost immediately after the World Cup.
That is wishful thinking though. For whatever reason, the KHL has been notoriously difficult to deal with when they choose to.
Even the higher ups in the league acknowledged the problems seem to stem from the club and the Russian league. On Wednesday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly admitted Sobotka was having issues securing his release from Omsk.
At this point, the situation is beyond ridiculous for all involved.
The Blues have been depending on Sobotka to contribute on the fourth line or be insurance when injuries pop up. Now, their lineup might be even thinner.
Vocal fans have been on Sobotka’s back since the beginning. While that is their right, it seems foolish now.
People are clearly still upset about how this has dragged out and that is fine. However, to put the blame on Sobotka if the problem is with the KHL is just silly.
This isn’t the first time the Russian league has not wanted to play ball. It won’t be the last either.
Those that want to believe it is Sobotka is holding up the situation are entitled to their opinion. The likelier scenario is that the KHL is looking for a payday from either the NHL or the Blues.
If Sobotka really has no blame here, it will be a sad situation. It is sad because the Blues would be smart to play hardball. All they need to do is say he has a contract here, so he’s either playing with the Blues or returning to the KHL.
It’s not necessarily fair to the player. However, Sobotka is not a superstar. The Blues do not need to be spending money on a commodity they already own just because the Russian league is being greedy.
We’ve tried to take a middle of the road stance for most of this, because it was always likely he was going to play in the NHL. For the first time all summer, it seems the opposite is true.
Blues fans should probably get off Sobotka’s back. However, they and the team, might need to get used to the idea that he won’t be back.
It is Sobotka’s fault for leaving in the first place. Yet, it’s quite unprofessional for this to have stretched out this far no matter who is to blame.