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Former Pittsburgh Penguin, Russian Olympian Alexei Morozov elected new president KHL

After spending nearly five years as managing director of the Russian junior league, Alexei Morozov has been unanimously elected the new president of the KHL. Morozov, 42, played seven seasons with the Penguins and represented Russia at the 1998 and 2010 Olympics.

Changes are coming at the top of the KHL as outgoing president Dmitry Chernyshenko, who has held the post since November 2014, is set to be replaced by Alexei Morozov.

After speculation Morozov would be the heir to Chernyshenko, the KHL made it official when the 42-year-old was elected to the position unanimously by the league’s Board of Directors. The promotion to president of Russia’s top league, and a circuit considered by some to be the second-best in the world, comes after Morozov spent nearly five years as managing director of the MHL, the Russian junior league. Until his replacement is found, Morozov will carry on in that capacity.

“(Morozov) has great authority in the world of hockey among players, coaches, club managers, journalists and, of course, fans,” Gennady Timchenko, chairman of the KHL’s Board of Directors, said in a statement. “For almost five years he has worked effectively as the head of the Junior Hockey League and I’m sure he will have picked up vital experience in that role to help him move on to this bigger task…He has a huge amount of work ahead of him, but the path is clearly defined by our development strategy and the league will continue to follow that route steadily.”

The change comes as Chernyshenko leaves the KHL to move into Russian government duty as the deputy Prime Minister. Timchenko noted the league’s growth and development during Chernyshenko’s time as KHL president. Chernyshenko had previously been the president of Sochi’s 2014 Olympic Organizing Committee and was part of the coordination commission for the 2022 Olympics, but later lost that post as a result of the Russian doping scandal.

Morozov is known best stateside for his seven seasons spent with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Drafted in the first round, 24th overall, in the 1995 draft by the Penguins, Morozov made his way to the NHL as a 20-year-old ahead of the 1997-98 campaign. Though he was a roster fixture throughout his time in Pittsburgh, he was plagued by inconsistency, often following up a strong season with a step backwards and suffering a statistical decline every second season. To wit, he debuted with 26 points in 76 games, scored 19 in 67 games as a sophomore, notched 31 the next season but followed that up with another 19-point campaign. His best offensive output came in his final campaign in the NHL, when he scored 16 goals and 50 points during the 2003-04 season.

As a result of the lockout season, however, Morozov returned to Russia and suited up for Ak Bars Kazan alongside the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexei Kovalev and Vincent Lecavalier, among others. That season, Morozov established himself as one of the league’s premier offensive players, finishing third in scoring with 47 points in 58 games and winning the Russian League’s MVP award. He remained Kazan for the next eight campaigns, captaining the outfit from 2007-08 to 2012-13, before ending his career after a final season with CSKA Moscow. During his stay in the KHL, he won two Gagarin Cups, one post-season MVP award and was a four-time all-star.

Morozov was also a decorated international player, winning two World Championship golds, one World Championship bronze and earned a best forward and all-star honor at the 2007 tournament. Prior to that, he was a standout world junior player and cracked Russia’s Olympic squad at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. He finished fifth in scoring with four points for the silver medal-winning Russian team. At the 2010 Vancouver Games, his second Olympics, Morozov was the flag-bearer for Russia.

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