Budding Russian star Alexander Burmistrov, who was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers admitted he was very happy with this.
“I’m so happy,” he told Russia’s SportExpress.ru.
With their selection of Burmistrov in the first round, the Thrashers once again dip into a pool of extremely talented Russian players. The organization, no doubt, hopes Burmistrov can blossom into goal scorer, like his predecessors Ilya Kovalchuk and Maxim Afinogenov. So who is this newest Russian to join the Thrashers? We know he was taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft (8th overall pick). We know he is smallish — at just 5’11″ and 157 pounds, but that is sure to change as he grows and gets older. Some quotes from the man himself might help illuminate his character. (Quotations translated from Russian by Goddess Thorkhild.)
I knew that Atlanta was interested in me. We had interviews both in Toronto, and already here. But I was quite agitated. Since the very morning.
Question: What do you know about Altanta?
It’s very hot there. This city is called “Hotlanta,” isn’t it? By the way, the first NHL game I saw live was Toronto-Atlanta.
Question: Are you going to seek advice from [former Thrashers] Ilya Kovalchuk or Slava Kozlov?
No, why? I will go and see myself.
Question: If you can’t manage to crack Atlanta’s first team, what are you going to do?
I won’t come back to the Kontinental Hockey League for sure. The KHL is a good league, but I’m in the mood to play here [in North America] and I don’t want to take steps back.
Alexander Burmistrov wearing No. 10 for 2010 (but does Bryan Little know he's got his number?).
Burmistrov also gave an interview to the AllHockey.ru. Here are the most interesting bits.
When I went to the stage [at the NHL Entry Draft] I didn’t understand anything, I was in a coma-like state. When I was on stage, [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman welcomed me, then I started to recover.
I had my parents, my brother, two agents, the agent’s daughter, and Vanya Telegin [Ivan Telegin, whom the Thrashers selected in the fourth round] with his mother and parents with me. We are on good terms, so we sat in one sector. And I’m very glad Atlanta selected him too.
I was rather surprised during the photoshoot. When they were taking a photo of me standing with a puck, they told me, “Show us who you are.” I thought it was rather strange.
During my time in Los Angeles I went to a beach, to Universal studios. It was fantastic, I can’t explain it with words. Then I went to Disneyland. When my agent and I walked around the center, I suddenly say a man in white running towards us. When he reached us, I knew he was Sidney Crosby! Simply running in the center of L.A. He was the only celebrity I saw there.
Kovalchuk, right, donned the "C" in place of injured Morozov, left, for the 2010 World Championships.
An interesting snipped from a Q&A with Russian national ice hockey team General Manager Vyacheslav Bykov on Ilya Kovalchuk.
Q: What can you say about Kovalchuk? Did he manage to get through his role of captain?
A: Absolutely! Though Ilya is still young, he is already a strong person. During three years of our meetings in the national team, he has grown up very rapidly. I admire his professional reaction to our first call after New Jersey had left the playoffs. “When and where are you waiting for me?”– Ilya asked like this at once. I believe this spring he was the first to show the example of decent respect to his national team and his country. The others followed his example already.
Q: If both Kovalchuk and (Alexei) Morozov go to the next worlds, and if their coach is Bykov, who will be the captain?
A: I think Kovalchuk. He represents the new generation, which has to take and is taking the relay baton in his hands. By the way, they’re friends with Morozov, Ilya is the godfather of Alexei’s child [thorkhild's note: they are the BEST mates ever, I cannot stop watching their summer photos and video interviews!] So I’m sure there won’t be any problems with that.
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.