Tag-Archive for ◊ Russian hockey ◊

24 Apr 2012 Sergei Fedorov’s Next Big Move
Sergei Fedorov

Could Fedorov return CSKA to its former glory?

Reports out of Russia indicate former NHLer Sergei Fedorov will retire from competitive hockey and take over as general manager of the venerable CSKA Moscow hockey club.

Russia’s Sport-Express reports that “reliable sources” have Fedorov taking the helm of his old club as soon as May 1.

The once-dominant CSKA Moscow — the feared Red Army team to people of a certain age — has struggled in recent years. No longer the juggernaut it once was, the club is looking to regain some of its lost luster. The Sergei Fedorov brand is big in Russia and a CSKA homecoming would bring some much needed panache to Russian hockey’s grande dame.

In taking the position, Fedorov would unseat Sergei Nemchinov, another former NHLer and contemporary of Fedorov’s.

The newspaper speculates that the addition of Fedorov, along with the freshly inked — and vastly monied — corporate sponsor Rosneft, could enable the team to at last secure big name free agents “including even Alexander Radulov.”

Those hoping to see Fedorov in the GM’s seat might cool their jets a tad, as until a few weeks ago the Russian media had ex-NHLer Pavel Bure all but assured of the CSKA spot.

Fedorov left the NHL in 2009 to join Metallurg Magnitogorsk, where his brother Fedor was signed, saying he was helping fulfill his father’s dream of seeing his two sons on the same team. In 20 NHL seasons Fedorov played for four different teams (Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals), skating in 1248 games, and amassing 483 goals and 1179 points. He is a three-time Stanley Cup champion (1997, 1998, 2002). He won the Selke Trophy twice (1994, 1996) and captured the Hart Memorial Trophy in 1994 and the Lester B. Pearson Award in 1996.

Photograph: Kontinental Hockey League



06 Feb 2011 Slava Kozlov Joins New Team for Playoff Push
slava kozlov in Salavat colors

Slava Kozlov will chase the Gagarin Cup with a new team.

Former NHL star and current KHL player, Slava Kozlov, has changed his club right before the playoffs. His former team — CSKA Moscow — is having a poor season and the move enables him to continue his career on a more successful team. Kozlov has joined Salavat Yulaev — one of the strongest clubs in the KHL. The team’s coach, Slava Bykov, is a former player and a current manager of Russia’s national team.

On Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Slava joins several other former NHLers including Viktor Kozlov, Dmitri Kalinin and Alexander Radulov. According to the official Salavat site, Slava will wear No. 32.

The player himself commented his transfer, saying that his new colleagues were masters and it was pleasant to be with them on one team. Let’s see now how far Salavat will go through the playoffs.

Photo: Vyacheslav Kozlov from Salavat Yulaev’s official website.

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05 Feb 2011 KHL All Star Game: Jagr beats Yashin. Again!
KHL All Star game 2011

Jagr team vs Yashin team

KHL All Star Game 2011 took place in Saint-Petersburg. As usual, teams were divided under Jaromir Jagr and Alexei Yashin’s names. The show started with skills competitions, which was quite fun. Here’s the full list of winners according to the KHL official website.

Yashin 4-3 Jagr

Superskills competition

TEAM YASHIN 4
TEAM JAGR     3

Fastest skater
Team Yashin: Lauris Darzins, Leo Komarov, Maxim Afinogenov – 13.96 sec.
Team Jagr: Lukas Kaspar, Roman Cervenka, Evgeny Kuznetsov
1-0

Longest shot
Team Yashin: Denis Grebeshkov, Sandis Ozolins, Jozef Vasicek
Team Jagr: Janne Niskala, Konstantin Korneyev, Martin Skoula
1-1

Puck control relay
Team Yashin: Sergei Mozyakin, Maxim Sushinsky, Jozef Vasicek, Alexander Guskov, Matthias Weinhandl
Team Jagr: Lukas Kaspar, Patrick Thoresen, Alexei Morozov, Janne Niskala, Alexander Radulov
2-1

Shooting accuracy
Team Yashin: Sandis Ozolins, Chris Simon – 5 shots on 4 targets, Alexei Yashin
Team Jagr: Kevin Dallman, Sergei Fedorov, Jaromir Jagr
3-1

Hardest shot
Team Yashin: Maxim Solovyev, Alexander Guskov, Karel Rachunek
Team Jagr: Konstantin Korneyev, Ilya Nikulin, Denis Kulyash – 177.58 km/h
3-2

Shootout
Team Yashin: Sergei Mozyakin, Maxim Sushinsky and Matthias Weinhandl vs. Stefan Liv
Team Jagr: Roman Cervenka, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alexander Radulov vs. Dominik Hasek
3-3

Fastest skater team relay
Team Yashin: Konstantin Barulin, Denis Grebeshkov, Peter Podhradsky, Leo Komarov, Lauris Darzins, Maxim Afinogenov
Team Jagr: Mikhail Biryukov, Konstantin Korneyev, Kevin Dallman, Petri Kontiola, Lukas Kaspar, Alexei Morozov
4-3

The most awesome moment to my opinion was Evgeny Kuznetsov shootout with Hasek. BTW, Evgeny asks everyone to call him “Kuzya” :)

KHL All Star Game 2011 Evgeny Kuznetsov Breakaway Challenge Winner

KHL All Star Game 2011 Shots competition

KHL All Star Game 2011 Hardest Shot 110.3 mph Denis Kulyash

The game itself was rather fun, too. It ended with a new record 18:16, and Jagr once again beat Yashin. Here’re the highlights.

KHL All Star Game 2011 highlights

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08 Nov 2010 Check Out Ex-Red Wings Star Sergei Fedorov

Sergei Fedorov in Metallurg Magnitogorsk uniformSergei Fedorov in his Metallurg Magnitogorsk uniform during the game with Dinamo Moscow on November, 7, 2010. Dinamo won 4-1.

Photo: Sergei Fedorov by Goddess Thorkhild. Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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05 Sep 2010 Kovy Takes on Ovie in Charity Game

Kovalchuk and Ovechkin

Kovalchuk and Ovechkin at the game.

Russian hockey stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin organized a charity game “With all the heart” in Moscow’s Sokolniki Arena. All the money will be sent to people who suffered from the recent forest and other fires in Russia. The original idea belonged to Ilya.

Many famous current and former players took part in the Ovie vs Kovy game including: Evgeni Malkin, Nikolai Zherdev, Slava Kozlov, Alexei Kasatonov, Slava Fetisov, Alexander Kharlamov, and Dominik Hasek. Many top Kremlin officials, KHL President Alexander Medvedev and various celebrities were in attendance.

Kovalchuk and Ovechkin invited their first coaches to participate in the game as managers.

After the game Kovalchuk admitted that it had been a pleasure for him to play at Sokolniki — at his home arena (where HC Spartak Moscow plays). He also said he and his family had suffered from the Moscow smog. For those who haven’t heard, the city of Moscow and its surrounding areas were recently blanketed in smoke from fires burning near the city, as the Russian capital endured extraordinarily high summer temperatures.

Ovechkin said that such charity activities should be developed in Russia. He added that he had been in the Moscow smog, too.

Former Atlanta Thrasher Slava Kozlov admitted he hadn’t defined his future career yet. He asked not to link his visit to Russia with contract talks — his purpose there was to visit his parents. Kozlov also said that the New Jersey Devils didn’t call him — only Kovalchuk asked him to join.

Here’s a video from the show which ended 13:13.

And here are photos from the Russian media and various open sources

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21 Aug 2010 Semin in ‘Small’ Wreck and More Russian Hockey News

Semin's car accident - lifesports.ru

Semin's car accident - lifesports.ru

Washington Capitals star Alexander Semin got in a very small car accident last week in Krasnoyarsk — reportedly, his car was slightly hit by another. Semin said he even hadn’t realized what had happened. No one was hurt.

Here’s a small video in which a person tries to learn what has happened and is told not to take the video – Semin car accident

More Hockey News — Straight Outta Russia …

  • Former Thrasher Maxim Afinogenov scored for SKA Saint Petersburg at a summer tournament in Switzerland. As for his return to Russia, Afinogenov said: “I realized – it’s time to go back home.” He promised not to change his style of play and to stay himself. Max also said he’s living in the same hotel as former San Jose Sharks netminder Evgeny Nabokov, noting that they often go out together. And, finally, Max insists he’s forgotten about the NHL already.

  • One of Russia’s most talented young players, Nikita Filatov, is going back to Columbus. Again. Filatov promised to work hard and to play his brand of hockey.

  • Little Viktor Tikhonov is going to move his way into Phoenix and the NHL. His agent admitted — it’s the main goal for Viktor.

  • Slava Kozlov will be waiting for offers from the NHL til the end, but if he doesn’t get them, “we’ll start talks with him,” said CSKA president Slava Fetisov.

  • Finally, the ‘unfriendly ghost’ and current SKA coach Darius Kasparaitis has got a son! His girlfriend gave birth to their son in Saint Petersburg. Kasparaitis already has three daughters.

    via Russian press

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  • 13 Jul 2010 Russian Media Roundup: Datsyuk to College and More
    Slava Kozlov

    Kozlov reportedly has his sights set on the KHL.

    Here’s a brief summary of some of the hot hockey stories making the rounds in the Russian press this week.

    - SKA Saint Petersburg signed ex-San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov to a 4-year, $24 million (USD) contract.

    - Reportedly, former Atlanta Thrashers player Slava Kozlov wants to play in Russia. He is in talks with several clubs.

    - Kontinental Hockey League studies details on 23-year-old SKA player Igor Misko’s sudden death.

    -  The Washington Capitals took four Russians to their summer camp.

    -  Detroit Red Wings and team Russia forward Pavel Datsyuk has entered the university in his native city of Ekaterinburg.  He will study sports management.

    Photo: Vyacheslav Kozlov by Goddess Kaatiya. Copyright 2009-2010. All Rights Reserved.

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    05 Jul 2010 Exclusive: Chatting Up Newly Crowned King Maxim Kitsyn
    Maxim Kitsyn

    Maxim Kitsyn stops to shake a fan's hand after his name is called at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

    There’s an old saying in Russia that if you’re promised something, you will have to wait three years to get it (if at all).   Yet when I contacted Maxim Kitsyn — a Russian and the Los Angeles Kings’ 6th-round draft pick — for an interview I got a quick response. An enthusiastic “yes,” followed by immediate action. I sent him questions, and less than 24 hours later I had his answers — all this while he was participating in the Kings’ prospect camp.

    This was just my first insight into Kitsyn’s maturity, responsibility and dedication to play in North America.  It is clear that he takes his career very seriously.

    In speaking with him prior to the interview, I found him to be a very gracious and courteous person.  As you will see, he is also well spoken (his answers were sent back to us in Russian and translated by Goddess Thorkhild). Though he replied in his native tongue, he does like to practice his English whenever he gets a chance.

    HockeyGoddesses: Since you don’t play in here yet we’d like to let the fans in Los Angeles and North America get to know you personally.

    What did you do in Los Angeles during the draft? Had you been in North America before? How did you like it?

    Maxim Kitsyn: I came to Los Angeles with my parents, and there was one more Russian on the plane — Stas Galiyev [Stanislav Galiev, who was selected by the Washington Capitals in the 3rd round].  He was with his mom too.  So we didn’t have time to get bored.  And during the draft my parents, my agent, his daughter and our lawyer went somewhere each day.  We either went shopping or went to the ocean. We didn’t manage to go to Hollywood.  There were terrible traffic jams that day.

    HG: Have you always wanted to play in the NHL?

    MK:  Yes, of course.  I don’t know any young hockey player in Russia who wouldn’t like to play in this league.

    Maxim Kitsyn

    Maxim Kitsyn dons his new colors.

    HG: What players did you admire growing up?

    MK: If you name any NHL player of this time I’d say I liked his game. I cannot distinguish anyone specific.

    HG: What do you like to do in your free time during the season?

    MK: I don’t have much spare time, but when I do, I like to have a good rest. I also like to spend time with my friends, but we don’t meet often. I see one of my friends only once a year, though we live just a five-minute walk from each other. And, of course, I love to be with my girlfriend; we just go for a walk or sit somewhere in a cafe, for example.

    HG: What do you do in the off-season?

    MK: Usually I rest a little.  Last year I was in Turkey, and before the camp of my KHL team I go train in America or Canada. This year our playoffs were over at the end of April and the tests [the NHL Combine] before the draft were just a month away.  All of the guys from my team were resting, and I had to go to the rink everyday to keep up my physical conditioning.  I wanted to go somewhere to vacation between the NHL Combine and the draft, but my family had a lot to do this summer, and I didn’t manage to leave. Now, the Los Angeles Kings have chosen me, and our [development] camp started earlier than all others — just four days after the draft. So I am spending my holidays this way. :)

    HG: Who has had the greatest influence on your career? What was his or her best advice?

    MK: My parents.  They often sacrificed themselves to help me and my brother (he is three years older).  They did everything for us, so that the only thing we had to do was to go on the ice and play hockey. For example, in the hockey school I went to, every age group had the year when training started at 7 a.m. in the morning.  At 6:15 a.m. you had to be in the dressing room, so at 6 a.m. you had to leave home. Mom got up at 5 a.m. to start cooking for us. I am very grateful to my parents. Me and my brother still play hockey. But if not for them we wouldn’t have achieved anything.

    HG: When do you think you will come to play in North America?

    MK: In fact, I have wanted to come to play in the Canadian Hockey League, but I have a contract with a Kontinental Hockey League club [Metallurg Novokuznetsk], and no CHL team previously wanted to take a risk by picking me in the draft. But this year, Mississuaga has chosen me.  If everything is worked out and I can come at least by the end of the year to the Ontario Hockey League, I’ll be very happy.

    HG: There are many great Russians playing in the KHL that we, here in North America, have never seen. Who is the best player in the KHL that nobody in North America has heard of?

    MK: I don’t know who you have heard about and who you haven’t, but I can say that there are very many players in the KHL who could become leaders in the NHL.

    HG: What advice can you give young players? How can a player achieve the highest level of hockey?

    MK: To listen to the coach and to keep doing your business as a professional. There are moments when you feel you can’t manage to do anything and want to leave it all, but then you remember what goals you have and understand that you must keep going.

    HG: Do you have any training secrets?  How do you psychologically prepare for games?

    MK: Those I keep to myself ;).  I’ll say one thing:  Each hockey player and sportsman in general have their little secrets. :)

    Photos: Maxim Kitsyn and fan by Goddess Sasha. Kitsyn in Kings jersey by Getty Images.

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    02 Jul 2010 Mogilny Continues KHL Work

    Alexander Mogilny

    Mogilny works for the KHL club in his hometown.

    Former NHL star Alexander Mogilny has signed a new contract with Amur Khabarovsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, according to the club’s official website. Mogilny will continue his work there as a sports consultant. He was previously responsible for the selection work in North America.

    The elusive Mogilny last played for the New Jersey Devils (and their AHL Affiliate at the time, the Albany River Rats) before slipping into retirement at the end of the 2005-06 season. An Olympic and Stanley Cup champion, Mogilny once left behind the city and country he again embraces, having defected from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1989 to play for the Buffalo Sabres.

    Khabarovsk, where Amur is based, is Mogilny’s native city. Located in the Far Eastern part of Russia, it is a long way from Moscow but rather close to the North America. That’s quite comfortable for Mogilny who lives in the USA, if I am not mistaken.

    So let’s wait and see what this famous player will be responsible for this season in the KHL.

    Photo: Alexander Mogilny from HC Amur Khabarovsk’s official website.

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    24 Jun 2010 Stanislav Galiev has one goal: The NHL
    Stanislav Galiev

    Stanislav Galiev and his mom have the NHL set in their sights

    Call me a bit biased, but there is no better wisdom than a mother’s.   And it could be that very wisdom that makes Stanislav Galiev the best Russian a team could place their pick on this draft.

    While other picks are surrounded by drama and uncertainty, Galiev has been quietly absent from controversy.  He doesn’t have a strong willed father or an uncontrolled ego.  Instead, he has his widowed mother who has been  protective while promoting what she thinks is best for her son.  She moved to the US after Stanislav’s first year here, then to Canada when he was drafted by the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.

    Both she and Stanislav have been very clear that his ultimate goal is the NHL, something that is strongly supported by his move to play in the USHL at only 16 years of age.  No games, no posturing:  Just honest sentiments from a family who has many reasons to want to live in the United States.  It’s good both for mom and son –  Stanislav, who can play in a league that suits his North American style, and for his mom as the quality of life for a single woman is by far superior in North America.

    On the playing front, Galiev may not be as big as Burmistrov, may not have as much flair as Tarasenko or may not have the touted talent of Kabanov, but he isn’t far behind in any of those categories.  Best known for his creative play and intelligence on the ice, Stanislav models himself after Alexander Semin.  His style of play, strength and power all lend himself to such comparisons.  However, most scouts have noted his exception defensive play, leading them to comparisons to Pavel Datsyuk.  Although he’s still physically young, needing to fill out, he’ll do so naturally as he progresses as an athlete.  With his talent and potential, there’s no rush as his 6’1” frame will gain the necessary mass.

    Playing in the shadow of Burmistrov, many people will be surprised to find that he’s ranked just eight spots behind his fellow Russian in the North American rankings at 20th and will most likely go in the first round.  His steady play, natural talent and gregarious and easy-going personality have placed him higher than many people had initially anticipated.  Yet make no bones about it, this kid is incredibly talented and is maturing as a player every day, having the potential to be one of the best in the best league in the world.

    So while this somewhat dark horse of a draft pick, like all Russians, is no guarantee to stay in North America and play in the NHL, if he listens to his mom, chances are pretty darn good.

    Photo:  Stanislav Galiev at Indy.com.

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    22 Jun 2010 Vladimir Tarasenko: The Next Ovechkin?
    Vladimir Tarasenko

    Vladimir Tarasenko might be the best Russian you've never heard of.

    Vladimir Tarasenko isn’t a household name -– yet.  And it still might be a while.

    What? You haven’t heard of him either?

    With the 2010 NHL draft just around the corner, other Russian names might stick out more.  The drama surrounding the former potential number one selection in Kirill Kabanov, or Barrie Colts standout Alexander Burmistrov, have thrust other Russian names into blogs and other news sources throughout North America.

    Ironically, however, the first Russian to go in this year’s draft will most likely be someone who has never played in North America, and whom many people have never heard of.    That’s because Vladimir Tarasenko has been quietly tearing up the ice half a world away in Russia.  During his second year in the Kontinental Hockey League, he scored 13 goals and 11 assists in 42 games on a struggling team — HC Sibir Novosibirsk. Not bad for a 17-year-old playing in a league filled with seasoned veterans.

    A young man in the KHL, Tarasenko has chosen to stay close to home.  Very close.  In fact, his father is also his coach in Novosibirsk.  Recognizing that his son needed the support and, presumably, the supervision of his family, Tarasenko’s father advised him to stay in Russia, play with men and have the support structure he needed to develop.   I’m sure many of you parents out there can relate.  The hesitation to send your child relatively unsupervised halfway across the world to a foreign country where he has no relatives seems like a rational, and even preferable decision.

    Has this hindered his chances of a high draft spot?  To both Tarasenko and his father, such talk of draft placement is irrelevant. What is most important is the young Tarasenko’s development as a player and a professional, not what number he is selected.  After all, he is still under contract with Sibir next year and won’t be looking to move to the NHL any time soon.  The irony is, despite this casual approach to the draft, it just may manifest itself in Tarasenko being the first Russian to be chosen. He’s had both a great year in Sibr and at the World Junior Cup.

    Vladimir Tarasenko

    Vladimir Tarasenko impressed scouts at the WJC this year.

    Ultimately, the big question in scouts’ minds will be what most of us wonder:  Will he take the big step to the NHL once his contract with Sibir is up or remain in the KHL like many kids these days?  The fact that he hasn’t exactly been beating down the door to play in North America may be a deterrent to many teams.

    However, we have to remember that Vladimir’s father is a former Soviet professional hockey player who didn’t have the chance to play in the NHL.  He has coached Vladimir for a long time and knows that the best league in the world is the ultimate achievement in any hockey player’s career.  My thought is that he is right on track to produce a very successful NHL product and while it may be a year or two down the road, Vladimir Tarasenko will soon be one of those Russians that NHL teams will hate facing due to his propensity for exploding out of nowhere and finding the back of the net.  Given his talent and style of play, he is sure to be a fan favorite wherever he lands.

    Take a chance on this Russian?  You bet!  The NHL will be a more exciting place the day Tarasenko joins the league.

    Photos: Vladimir Tarasenko by Elena Rusko (rusko.fishup.ru), Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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    12 Jun 2010 NHL Prospect Zaytsev not so ‘Green’
    Nikita Zaytsev

    Russia's Nikita Zaytsev is wowing NHL scouts.

    He’ll never be an Alexander Ovechkin or an Ilya Kovalchuk.  Heck, he won’t even be a Maxim Afinogenov or a Ruslan Fedotenko.  After all, in 40 games for Sibir of the Kontinental Hockey League he had no goals and just one assist.  But given a chance, he just might just join the ranks of Slava Fetisov and Sergei Zubov.  That’s because Nikita Zaytsev is a defenseman.

    Amidst all the hype of the Russians in this year’s draft, baby-faced Zaytsev has flown under the radar of most fans.  In fact, even sports writers have misrepresented him.  One article from NHL.com headlines a story saying that he patterns himself after Mike Green, based on Nikita’s statement that he thought Green was one of the most exciting defensemen to watch.  Certainly not something many of us who value defensive defensemen find all that appealing.

    However, one only needs look at his international statistics to see what kind of player he really is.  A +7 with 5 points, 4 being assists, at the U18 Worlds a year ago show the caliber of Rob Blake, rather than a Mike Green.  Talk to his teammates and opponents both internationally and in Russia and they will tell you that his defensive zone play is impeccable.  His speed, skill and hockey intelligence are already proving him to be one of the top in the KHL, making him a tough opponent — all this from a kid who is only 18 years old playing against men twice his age and with the twice the experience.  I know, what else would you expect from a Russian-lover like me?  Still, I’m not the only one excited about him.  He may be flying under the average NHL fan’s radar, but the scouts are definitely talking.

    Not only does he have the skill and speed of a seasoned professional, but he is quickly adding size and strength to his overall resume.  Despite only being 176 lbs at 6’ 1”, he scored in the top six at the NHL combine in both jump tests and bench press (including the push test), demonstrating all-around power and strength.  Not bad for a skilled, agile defenseman who still has some growing to do.  These numbers, no doubt, did not go unrecognized by many of the organizations.

    As a Colorado Avalanche fan I can only dream of landing such a fantastic prospect.  Unfortunately, though, the Avs will probably be drafting another tiny offensive defenseman.  It’s really too bad, because this kid has all the tools to become one of the great all-around defensemen in the NHL.

    With Rob Blake retiring this year, someone needs to step in and be that type of player in the league.  Nikita Zaytsev just might be the one.

    Photo: Nikita Zaytsev by Elena Rusko (rusko.fishup.ru), Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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    27 May 2010 New Wave of Russian Talent?
    Nikita Zaytsev

    Nikita Zaytsev is an exciting young Russian prospect. Look for him at this summer's NHL draft in Los Angeles.

    The 2010 National Hockey League Draft Combine is underway in Toronto and the Goddesses are following the news closely. “What is this combine she speaks about?” some of you might ask.  Well, for those unfamiliar, it is the annual pre-draft evaluation of NHL prospects.  The top 100 prospects are invited for fitness evaluations, testing and interviews with general managers and scouts.

    While the top North Americans are always discussed, many a Russian player has been neglected in recent years.  The fear of drafting a Russian who will ultimately decide to play in the KHL instead, as well as some general xenophobia, has contributed to this.  Unfortunately, this often leads to mention of our beloved Ruskies as a mere afterthought, with a simple glance at the “Top European Skaters” in the Central Scouting Final Rankings.

    However, these journalists often forget to do their homework.  If they had, they would see that most of the top-ranked Russians are currently playing junior hockey in North America and don’t get ranked under the European category but are ranked with the other North American skaters.

    The Goddesses will try to highlight the Russian prospects in the days leading to the draft with interesting anecdotes and details as these players don’t often get their fair share of publicity.  We believe this latest crop of Russian players are very talented and will make a huge impact in the NHL given a chance.

    Alexander Burmistrov is one that has been particularly impressive and is currently ranked No. 11.  Others slated to go in the first couple of rounds are Stanisvla Galiev (ranked at No. 20 among North American skaters) and Kirill Kabanov (at No. 31).

    Of course, we can’t forget those Russians playing overseas such as Vladamir Tarasenko and Evgeny Kuznetsov, ranked No. 2 and No. 3 among European players respectively.

    As far as the combine is concerned, Russians invited to particapate were Burmistrov, Galiev, Kabanov, Tarasenko, as well as Nikita Zaytsev who is currently playing for HC Sibir Novosibirsk of the KHL.  Such talent has not been seen in some years and I will be excited to watch the draft in person to see where these young players are picked.

    So stay tuned for more posts about these talented malchiki (boys).  We Goddesses think you might find them as interesting as we do.

    Photo: Nikita Zaytsev from life.com.

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    26 May 2010 Bykov Speaks Out on Captain Kovalchuk

    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.

    ***

    ** Translated from: http://news.sport-express.ru/2010-05-26/364194/ **

    Photo: Alexei Morozov and Ilya Kovalchuk from Getty Images.

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    22 May 2010 They’re (Not Always) Coming to America
    Alex Ovechkin

    Russian Alexander Ovechkin is one of the NHL

    While perusing the web yesterday I came across an article at Bleacher Report by a “Featured Columnist” that I just couldn’t ignore.  The claim was that Russia is no longer producing quality hockey players.  The author’s proof?  There are very few Russians and even fewer Russian superstars in the National Hockey League.    He supports this claim with a superficial glance at recent NHL draft history, and the fact that Russians aren’t being highly drafted, if at all.

    And I thought only First Nations hockey players were victims of such bigoted and irresponsible “journalism.”  Pretty shallow reporting from someone who has written for NHL.com and other big online sites.

    Anyone who follows the NHL, the draft and developing talent is well aware of the shift in the paradigm in international talent.  The talent in Russia is obviously still there.  Newer players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Semin are clear examples of the type of talent the Motherland is still producing.

    So why are there fewer Russians in the NHL? The answer is simple:  The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).  Unfortunately, the author tries to deflect any attention from the KHL by saying that he doesn’t want to hear that there is talent in the KHL, because it’s not the NHL, the best league in the world.  This superficial claim insults the intelligence of knowledgeable hockey devotees and only serves to feed the xenophobia of lay hockey fans — something that does not behoove a sport that is trying to grow its popularity in the United States.

    Dmitry Kulikov

    Russian-born Dmitry Kulikov, a first round pick of the Florida Panthers, plays in the NHL.

    To refute these claims, one doesn’t have to look too far into the dynamics between the KHL and NHL.  The KHL may not be quite NHL caliber (as I discussed last month in another HockeyGoddess.com exclusive) but the money is, and that has kept many a Russian NHL prospect at home.  Why leave the comfortable confines of your homeland, where your dollar goes further, you don’t have to worry about learning a language you have zero knowledge of and your chances of getting hurt are a fraction of what they would be in North America?

    Similarly, if you are an NHL general manager drafting talented hockey players why take a chance on a guy who might look at his options: To scratch and claw in the AHL for a couple and make a whole lot less money, or to stay home and have a higher salary?  Why squander a high-round pick on a player who may never come play in North America? (Ever hear of Ilya Nikulin, a highly touted defensive prospect who was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers?  Didn’t think so.) Even some of the young kids who have come and played Junior hockey in North America, claiming the NHL is their end goal, have bolted back to the KHL after being sent down to the minors.  And really, I can’t completely fault them for that decision.

    Remember, Russia is no longer the Soviet Union.  Top talent doesn’t have to defect to America to make their millions — they can do it at home.  While the standard of living in most of Russia is still well behind North America, it’s a familiar and stable culture.  Why not stay there?

    Of course, we have seen some financial difficulty in recent times in Russia, with teams folding or merging under the stress of the international economic crisis.  We’ve heard rumors of some teams unable to pay their players.  This all may contribute to an increase in Russian talent in the NHL.  And while I wish the best for the Russians, I secretly hope to see more of them here in North America.  We have large Russian-speaking communities, a great standard of living, health care that far exceeds the level in the former Soviet states and a fair system to live under.  So you may not be a big fish in a little pond, but you’ll have a chance to prove you’re one of the best hockey players in the world.

    Photos: Alexander Ovechkin and Dmitry Kulikov by Goddess Sasha. Copyright 2009-2010. All Rights Reserved.

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