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If you can pronounce it, you are not from here

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YOU try to pronounce it: Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.That's the team in the new Kontinental Hockey League that Manitoban Kirby Law played for this fall in a place which he says is "out in the middle of nowhere in Russia."

"I've been travelling around a little bit this year," said the 6-foot-1 forward, who left the team after a three-month stay, returned to his home just outside Winnipeg for a week and is back in the Swiss Hockey League with Fribourg.

The Neftekhimik -- who have former NHLer Ladislav Khon and ex-Manitoba Moose forward Fedor Fedorov in their lineup -- released Law Oct. 27 after some three months in which he had just three points in 10 games.

Since joining Fribourg, he has three goals and four assists in 12 games and is playing on the club's top line, he said Wednesday in a phone interview.

Law wanted to play in the KHL for a season, since it paid more than Geneva of the Swiss League, for whom he had starred for two seasons. His family stayed in Winnipeg while he went to Russia.

It didn't pan out.

"I think it was the language barrier," he said. "The coaches and everybody on the team basically spoke Russian, besides a few of the other imports. So communication was a big issue and I think in one way or another, they were wanting someone else, I imagine.

"So we kind of came to an agreement and I got out of there."

chris.cariou@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 18, 2008 C1

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