Members of Team Russia celebrate a goal during the gold-medal game against Canada in the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships.
I just wanted to send out a genuine congratulations to Team Russia for winning the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships. If Team USA couldn’t win it, then Russia was my second pick. As I discussed in my article about the future of Russian hockey, these kids have all the talent in the world and they showed that with the necessary drive to win a championship, the sky is the limit.
For those that didn’t get a chance to see it, Igor Bobkov came in and turned the game around after Russia got down 3-0. He was simply amazing. Vladimir Tarasenko gets the MVP in my eyes for being knocked out cold and barely able to get off the ice, even with the help of two trainers, yet somehow returning for the third period and leading his team to victory. It also should be pointed out that the goddesses’ inaugural interviewee Maxim Kitsyn had an amazing tournament and will be moving to North America to play in the OHL this month. We wish him the best of luck.
Of course, it the story wouldn’t be complete without some hooliganism from the Russian team. Seems they got a bit drunk and unruly in their attempt to return home and were booted from their flight! Kids these days.
Too late to break out Kovalchuk's Kombat Kilt? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, divas dress to kill.
I have to say I gasped, then laughed like crazy when I saw the latest in Ilya-gate. The arbiter ruled in favor of the National Hockey League! WHAT?! As the late, great Johnny Carson would no-doubt have said (if he’d been a hockey fan), “that’s some weird, wild stuff.”
What is it with these ex-Atlanta Thrashers who become drama queens when they leave the team? Maybe Kovy has always been a bit of a diva (yeah, he has been), but we’ve had a string of interesting former Thrasher players all mixed up in the drama: Hossa-gate (and all the unnecessary rudeness surrounding it, of which I disapproved), Dany-gate (and all the rudeness that he did deserve), now this. A high-profile player cannot leave the Thrashers without drama ensuing — either immediately, during or after his departure. (So we stand on alert waiting for Kari Lehtonen to implode, get thrown from a bucking bronco at a dive bar in Dallas and tweak his groin, or eat himself into a fast food coma.)
Kovy, Kovy, Kovy. You could have avoided all of this ages ago by just taking the sweetheart deal the Thrashers begged you to sign.
This is all very amusing to me. Is it just me?! Perhaps “drama queen” is overstating it, but really. This is crazy. Kovalchuk is a free agent again! A little more than a month after he became a UFA, Kovalchuk could flit off to the Kontinental Hockey League and join the super team SKA St. Petersburg seems to be amassing over there. He could crown himself a Los Angeles King after all. Or, the humble and loving Thrasher fan in me naively, somewhere in the back of her mind thinks, he could come home to Atlanta. Yes. Go get him Dudley! (Oh! Silly me. We are not a “class organization” in his eyes, so never mind the bollocks!)
Am I spiteful? Just experiencing a wicked case of schadenfreude and am all giddy? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Until then … LOL Kovy. Oh dear!
Photo: Ilya Kovalchuk from kiltmen.com. If I am not mistaken, that photograph originally appeared in a fashion spread in a magazine many years ago. The Hockey Goddesses regret not knowing the original copyright owner, but would welcome this information (as much as we would welcome knowing how the author of the story and/or photographer persuaded him to pose in this garb — delightful and oddly sexy as it is.)
The NHL says Kovalchuk's contract is 'illegal' -- how can this be? Hasn't precedent been set? (see: Hossa, Ricky D, Bobby Lou, et. al)
File this under “things that make you go ‘hmmm…’”
It’s quite intriguing that the National Hockey League has decided to put its foot down with the Ilya Kovalchuk contract. There are several contracts similar to his, though not as long. I doubt they have a legal leg to stand on. Even if the New Jersey Devils and Kovalchuk himself knows this contract was written in such a way as to circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement, how can they prove intent? Is it that he’ll be 44 years old when the contract expires and, basically, nobody (let’s say 0.005 percent of players) plays past 40-ish?
Even so, how do you prove intent to circumvent? And even if you do prove it, if the current CBA has that loophole, how do you retroactively close it? And where do you draw the line? Fifteen years was OK for the Islanders’ Rick DiPietro. Marian Hossa signed a big front-loaded contract. Robert Luongo is on a monster deal. Where is the line? Why bring the hammer down at this point?
I am very curious as to how the league thinks it can get away with this randomness — either you can or you can’t do something under a contract. And, while I am not a lawyer, if those other contracts were not in violation, how can this one be?
The Kovalchuk drama continues! He always was a diva — this somehow fits. (No really … don’t you think?)
"Look into my face and know, to look into my face is to look into the face ... of EVIL!" so said comic Kevin McDonald of The Kids in the Hall as Sir Simon Milligan. Does the same go for Chris Pronger?
Oh Chris! Yes, I mean the Chris of the Philadelphia Flyers: Pronger. I have to hand it to him for bringing the controversy to the Stanley Cup Finals. I love that in losing efforts he raced over to snap up the “winning” (er, losing?) puck after both games in Chicago, then claimed he threw them in the trash can “where they belong.” Total asshole thing to do? Maybe. But it’s also a dash of genius in a weird, twisted Dr. Evil kind of way.
Pronger has always known how to poke and prod and push his way onto the “hate” lists of opposing players on the ice. Now, here he goes doing the same thing skating off the ice — and I love it.
I am a firm believer that pretty much any press is good press. If this gets people talking about the NHL — great! If it fired up the Flyers for Game 3 (which they did win in overtime) — also great! If it got under the skin of the Blackhawks and caused them to lose focus — way to go Chris. The mind of an NHL agitator works in mysterious ways.
NHL players say Pronger is one of those guys you loathe — unless he’s on your team. Now he’s making off with pucks and infuriating certain members of the Blackhawks (hello Ben Eager!), going so far as to remark to the media (in regard to Eager’s eager interest in his puck-snatching ways) that “apparently, it got him upset. So I guess it worked, didn’t it? It’s too bad. I guess little things amuse little minds.”
Oh Chris! You are truly evil! With such a remark, you zing not just Eager, but all of us who find your unique brand of gamesmanship so amusing.
(No word yet on who grabbed the Game 3 puck.)
So gamesmanship or disgrace? We want to know what YOU think!
Kabanov from his photo site in which he adds the tongue-in-cheek title, "Kirill Kabanov the new tsar of Russia."
As promised, it’s time to start highlighting some of the Russian prospects you may not have heard much about –guys who will be available for this year’s draft. And since it’s the first of several posts, we might as well start with the most controversial Russian eligible for the 2010 NHL draft to pique your interest.
Kirill Kabanov is riddled with controversy. Google his name and you’ll find rumors that make Alexander Semin’s early NHL drama seem like kids play. I won’t bother to take up room with extensive details, but after a buyout with the KHL, he came to Moncton of the QMJHL this year only to run back to Russia for the under-20 World Championships when faced with little playing time in Moncton. When the coach there didn’t like what he saw, he was essentially cut from the Russian team and left in limbo.
The details are sketchy and rumors abound. Some say his dad is controlling and forced him to abandon Moncton and go back to Russia. Other say Kabanov’s cocky and needs to be brought down a notch. Still others, like his coach in Russia, say that he thinks he’s better than he really is and needs to learn a lesson. Whatever the truth, his stock in this year’s draft has declined greatly.
However, at this year’s combine, Kabanov gave one of the most impressive interviews I’ve ever seen from a guy his age. Maybe he was groomed for the interview by his father or his agent, but it’s hard to pull off sincerity in a foreign language unless that’s exactly what it is –- sincere. Take a look at the interview and I think you’ll see a humble, intelligent and honest 17 year old who seems wise beyond his years. Let’s not forget — he’s just a kid!
He admitted he made a mistake leaving Moncton and that he was stupid. He emphasized that point with a Russian proverb, which personally I found quite thoughtful and endearing. He declared his intention to play in the US, wherever that might be. I know we’ve all heard that before, but there was no attitude in his voice, no sneer on his face. He said it all with a genuine smile and the heart of someone who reflects on their mistakes and tries to become a better person for it.
I admit I’m biased. I love the Russians. But I’m also a chronic cynic and have found nothing but honesty and maturity in this kid. Whatever he has gone through this year, he has grown tremendously and will be far ahead of many other picks in that respect in this year’s draft. And let’s not forget, Kabanov is smart, both on and off the ice. Yeah, I know I’ve said I love the personality and cockiness some of these guys bring to professional hockey, but in this case, I’ll take him just the way he is.
Good luck to Kirill in this year’s draft. The goddesses will be wishing him the very best. I predict he will become a star in the NHL and sooner, rather than later and it’s a savvy team that takes a chance on him.
A Thrasher fan simultaneously expresses his thoughts on Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa.
My dear Marian (Hossa, of course!) has once again made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s three years in a row, with three different teams — and that’s a pretty incredible feat. As someone who was lucky enough to get to watch Marian for many years in Atlanta, I know how good he can be. It’s time for him to step it up in the playoffs and get over the yips or whatever it is that has him underperforming. He’s better than his playoff stats show. He’s magical when he’s on. It’s time for him to bring out the magic stick and show everyone what I think we all know he’s capable of. I can’t help but think that, although the Blackhawks got this far in the playoffs without — for the most part — his otherworldly skills, Marian has to be more than a mere mortal before the hockey gods (and goddesses!) will allow him to lift the Cup. He just seems to have a curse on him.
I find it rather intriguing that Hossa, who was signed by, and traded from, the Ottawa Senators (to the Atlanta Thrashers) before the ink was even dry on the contract, was going up against the guy — Dany Heatley now of the San Jose Sharks — he was traded for way back when. For all of the gaffes Marian has made in the media over the last several years and for all the things he’s said that have pissed people off, I think he’s been nothing if not honest and hard working. I will sound like a bitter Thrashers fan but I think the exact opposite of “the Heater.”
Is this Hossa's year -- at last?
I’ve always understood Heatley’s desire to depart from Atlanta and try to cobble his mind back together without the daily, sorrowful reminders the city held for him. But he’s shown himself to be kind of a louse. Quitting, not just on the city of Atlanta and the fans who stood so firmly behind him, but on the Swiss team he signed with during the NHL lockout (to head to Russia to play for Ak Bars Kazan, a team loaded with NHL talent), then on the Senators last year, demanding a trade after signing a big old contract, which, of course, contained the dreaded no-trade clause. I’m not going to go so far as to compare him — either jokingly or seriously — to Stalin as one somewhat amusing columnist did back during last summer’s “Dany-gate.” But maybe the hockey gods have spoken after all. Hossa’s in, Heater’s out.
Or maybe I am just being ridiculous. Maybe it’s just the way Lady Luck danced … the cookie crumbled … the puck bounced. Whatever it is, I have always admired Marian Hossa as a person and a player. As a Thrasher fan, it sucks he’s gone and it hurts to know he didn’t want to be in my city on my team, but he didn’t choose Atlanta and I respect his decision to seek his fame and fortune elsewhere. In short, I wish him well and hope that, the third time is, indeed, a charm. There is a Russian proverb that asserts “God loves the number three.” Maybe this is Hossa’s year after all.
Photos: Thrasher fan by Goddess Kaatiya. Copyright 2007-2010. All Rights Reserved. Marian Hossa by Chris Stanford, chrisstanford.com.
The Russian press caught Caps LW Alexander Semin enjoying a smoke.
The Russian tabloids went crazy this week after several members of the Russian national hockey team were captured on film smoking outside a restaurant in Germany at the World Championships – the most familiar being Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals. Other “guilty” parties shown in the video are Ilya Nikulin, whose rights belong to the Atlanta Thrashers, and 2002 NHL draftees Sergei Mozyakin (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Vitaly Atyushov (Ottawa Senators). Late in the video one can also see soon-to-be UFA Ilya Kovalchuk hanging out with the naughty smokers and acting a little “off” while being escorted into a waiting car.
It seems ironic that in a country where just about everyone smokes that something like this would spark such controversy and outrage. Or not.
During Soviet times, Russia took its athletes’ development very seriously. Hockey players were closely monitored and were strictly forbidden from smoking and drinking. Athletes were highly revered and their jobs were taken very seriously. They were seen as more than just mere mortals, having an amazing ability and will to resist outside distractions. After all, they were living representations of the Soviet ideal. Most of the players from that era still maintain a strict policy of abstinence when it comes to tobacco and alcohol.
Of course, there are always the exceptions. We’ve all heard the stories about Sergei Zubov smoking in the showers between periods or Nikolai Khabibulin having a clause written in his contract allowing him to smoke, but the majority of the old-school players didn’t and still don’t.
Alexander Semin, left, lights up with his Russian teammates.
Yet in the new Russia things are different. While players are still closely watched by their teams, attitudes definitely seem to have relaxed in many areas. Smoking, it turns out, is one of them. A current KHL player told us it’s the nature of being a hockey player: You either smoke or dip (chewing tobacco). In Russia, smoking is definitely the mode of choice. Still, hockey is one of the most popular sports in Russia, with world competitions being big news. So much so that in response to the media frenzy, the team has decided to boycott the press, a move which, of course, has created even more controversy in the Motherland.
Yet to be fair, we have to mention that smoking and chewing is also part of the scene in the NHL, the minor leagues and college in North America. Don’t let the media fool you. It may be more hidden these days, but believe me, it’s quite pervasive –- especially chewing tobacco — at just about every level. Even superstar Alex Ovechkin has been known to indulge in a little bit of snuff.
While the Russian population is shocked, North American fans seem to be saying “big deal” (although I wonder what the reaction in Canada would be if, say, Sidney Crosby was caught doing either). Here, we have to shake our heads at the stupidity, naivete or audacity of these players: Standing outside a restaurant smoking in full view of the public practically begging someone to bust them; and then give a little chuckle when they boycott the media for daring to report it when someone catches them red handed.