Fleming's deal with Omsk terminated

Updated: January 31, 2009, 3:08 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

The final chapter in the rollercoaster saga of Avangard Omsk head coach Wayne Fleming finally has been written.

The former Canadian Olympic assistant coach and long-time NHL assistant agreed with team management that things weren't working out, and late this week his contract with the Omsk team -- one that included five-time NHL scoring champ Jaromir Jagr -- was terminated.

"Management and I met last Wednesday and we both agreed that this wasn't working out for either party and it would be best we terminate the contract," Fleming wrote in an e-mail Saturday morning.

"That's about it," he added.

Officials from the Continental Hockey League confirmed Fleming's departure with a translation of a story that appeared on the KHL's Web site about Fleming's resignation.

The league's Web site indicated Igor Nikitin will replace Fleming as head coach.

In other team news, the site reported Jagr has been named team captain.

Fleming said in his e-mail he will travel through Europe for the next 10 days or so before returning to Canada. Fleming was hired in September by the high-profile KHL team after a contract had been offered to former Atlanta and Colorado head coach Bob Hartley.

Early in the season one of Fleming's players, New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov, collapsed on the bench and later died after having a seizure.

The league said Cherepanov had suffered from chronic myocarditis and that the cause of his death was acute heart failure.

An investigation revealed Cherepanov had been taking a banned substance, but league officials said what had been characterized as doping was in fact an attempt to treat Cherepanov's heart condition.

Omsk goalie John Grahame, a former NHLer with Carolina, Boston and Tampa Bay, was kicked off the team before Christmas and his contract rescinded amid reports of drunken misbehavior, reports Grahame has strongly denied to ESPN.com.

Fleming was suspended from the third period of a game recently amid reports he was to be fired.

Now comes word that his tenure in Russia is finally at an end.

The soap opera surrounding Fleming's tenure in Russia is yet another black eye for a league that fancies itself a competitor to the NHL.

Last week video surfaced showing former Ottawa goalie Ray Emery, who is enjoying a stellar year in the KHL, in an angry confrontation with a team assistant after Emery was pulled from a game.

Rumors persist that some teams are struggling to meet payroll, although to date it's believed all former NHLers have been paid in full.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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