Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn Should Become Big-Time Players

Sergei Kostitsyn isn’t like every European hockey player. He likes it here. He’s a guy who’s young (21), really talented and will get even more talented, and when asked by a reporter if he’d consider going to the mostly- Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for more money, he said, “Are you kidding? Leave the best league in the world?”

 

“My time will come,” he said about making big money in the NHL. And he said he’s been warned by others that no matter how good you were the first year, the second will be much harder.

Sergei and his older brother Andrei, who’s 23, are shining examples in Montreal of young skilled speedsters who are both the present and the future of the Montreal Canadiens. They fit right in, they’re fast and crafty, and both play with a certain edge. Especially Sergei.

 

These are two key members of the Montreal Canadiens, and they want to be Montreal Canadiens. They play just the style that Montreal has been known for for fifty years; fast, creative, and explosive.  And in the past, opposing players have roughed them up, and both never backed down.

 

Georges Laraque will step in too, so these brothers can wheel and produce in a big way.

 

If the Kostitsyn’s are firing on all cylinders this season, Montreal’s going to have an amazing team.

11 thoughts on “Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn Should Become Big-Time Players”

  1. Oops! Sorry, posted this in yesterday’s blog by accident.

    For centuries and centuries and centuries well-meaning intellectuals and panjandrums alike have postured and preened, proclaimed that they knew how to direct man’s selfish self-indulgence into more worthy forms of expression, how to curb our penchant for gratuitous violence, how to resolve the tension between our belly and our brain and, over the same span of time their grand `master plans’ have invariably proven to be abysmal failures.
    A cursory glance at the legacy of the 18th century `philosophes’ illustrates this: the Seven Years War (world’s first world war?), the Terror, the Napoleonic wars, Franco-Prussian War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam …. Quite a record of utter defeat, eh?
    How about Woodrow Wilson’s fantasy (fueled by – what a surprise! – those great German philsophers of the 19th C such as Kant): the League Of Nations? Uh oh, here comes WWII and Korea and Vietnam.
    What about the United Nations? Globalism? Human rights? Hmmm, Georgia/Ossetia/Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, East Timor, the whole of poor beleaguered bloody bloody bloody Africa. Hard to imagine a more ignominious record, eh?
    WHY?

    Let’s lay the blame at the doorstep of a single villain, Duality – the splitting of human nature into two opposing aspects, passion vs reason – a concept that is so pervasive so overwhelmingly dominant in our collective cultural mind that we no longer see how it conditions our understanding of ourselves and therefore shapes our behaviour dooming us to repeat ourselves over and over and over again. From Plato (an over-rated closet totalitarian) on there has been an insistence on imposing a rationally-conceived set of behaviour-governing rules on society, on the individual and the groups that make it up. The reasoning is that this is absolutely necessary because we are by nature inclined to inflict harm on others when they have something we want and won’t hand it over or simply because we can do so. And the lists I made above certainly seem to bear this out. But equally clear is the fact that all attempts to impose a rational order on our irrational selves is at best a less than adequate holding action, a flimsy lid bouncing and jouncing on a pot of boiling passions. Again, why? Because this division is an artificial one, a crude dichotomy that exhalts vague notions of a rational mind over equally vague notions of human nature. We are more complicated than this division which only engenders simplistic responses to opaque complexity.
    Do I have a `solution’ to this intractable conundrum? No. Hehe, at least not now. But I’m working on it and it in part entails eliminating this artificial adversarial distinction.
    But what we can do is be on guard against this tendency to embrace facile resolutions to this age-old quandary whenever it manifests itself in whatever it is that we are doing which brings me to hockey, more specifically the issue of fighting in hockey.
    (If Mike is reading this, I can imagine him hollering `Damn! About time! Get on with it! To which I reply, bear with me for a bit longer.)
    How easy it is to say that fighting in hockey is bad.
    How easy to decry the `violence’, the anger.
    How easy to posture as a thoughtful caring responsible mature (lol) civilized adult who is so concerned about the effect all this fighting has on the tender impressionable psyches of innocent children? (See the opening scenes of Sergio Leone’s, The Wild Bunch) and who is `above’ such an obviously crude form of self-expression, what one panjandrum termed the `atavistic code’ (LOL) – yeah, kids luuuv to play at being daddy/mommy.
    How easy to play the hypocrite, to hold others to standards to which you do not hold yourself.
    Much more difficult to think things out, to confront not only the nature that is `red in tooth and claw’ which shapes us all, but to call into question one’s own self-serving agenda not infrequently decked out in the rather soiled robes of virtue.
    Much more difficult to challenge one’s assumptions, the `received’ values and standards, the taken-for-granted `profundities’ and `truisms’ that inform our daily routines.
    Much more difficult to be critical of what we do (as individuals and as members of groups), what we opine, what we believe – to call what we `know’ into question.
    Much more difficult to address one’s limitations. And we are severely limited, we cannot do everything at once, we cannot be wholly informed on all things that affect us, we are more frequently than not restricted to particulars, to examining things piecemeal which doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to integrate our participation in one arena to broader questions of human interest. On the contrary. The, hehe, fight re fighting in hockey is a case in point.
    Hockey is very much a microcosm of `human nature’ at work and as such informs us re the whos, whats, whys, hows, of ourselves. And yes, hockey is self-evidently inherently violent – at all levels including mental toughness, the `clash of wills’ as it were – and people not only accept this obvious truth they embrace it and celebrate it, passionately, cf. Tom’s comments.
    So why the fuss over fighting? Why do `the usual suspects’ feel impelled to strike out at this aspect of the game which the vast majority of us recognize as perhaps the purest expression of the game and therefore of some important part of ourselves? And, no, the smarmy slag that fans who endorse fighting somehow endorse it as a solution to all problems in all arenas of human endeavour is nothing more than cheap rhetoric, vacuous sophistry.
    It’s not because hockey is more violent than other sports – der Habinator, may he rest in peace, put paid to that delusion.
    It’s not because fighting is so horrific that players are falling like so many swatted flies – errant sticks and hits from behind do far more damage.
    It’s not because the players object to it – almost to a man they maintain that it is integral to the game.
    And it certainly isn’t because it disrupts the `flow’ of the game or diminishes the artistry of highly skilled athletes (with the possible exception of the aberrant play of the 70s Flyers teams that employed systematic `goonery’ that was stopped not by rules but by players on the ice – yeah, the Habs – which means, hey, guess what, there is a self-regulating dynamic in play here and it works just fine without the meddling of pompous wanna-be-morally-superior hockey no-nothings) – stickwork, clutching and grabbing, cheap shots, even the `trap’ which results in constipated play, ARE inimical to these aspects of the game and guess what?, more vigorous application of the rules in place curbing these tactics have enhanced the game versus the instigator rule (`violently’ installed by a devious, smarmy mendacious self-proclaimed bullying panjandrum) which only encouraged the very tactics that DID detract from the game.
    The fuss over fighting is because the usual suspects, the indignant oh-so-concerned hodge-podge of a relatively small number of people, many well-meaning, some merely honing their axes, some seeking self-validation as moral warriors in a contrived fight for the `good’, et al. find common ground in their collective misunderstanding of hockey and the integral role that fighting plays in it.

    CONCLUSIONS

    Dennis, you’re right and you’re wrong: fighting has been going on for a lot longer than 100 years but the ancient Greeks would agree with you, just check out the original Olympics which were brutal affairs, glory to the SOLE victor and disgrace to the loser(s) not infrequently the latter were ostracized by their communities, even committed suicide; one reason that the concept of `precedent’ is so central to the practice of law is that it is a formal acknowledgement that what went before not only informs what comes after but IS very much the same thing. In other words, if necessary, change by all means but change based on faulty logic and misapprehension of what the issue is only leads to disarray and more conflict. Again, fighting in hockey IS very much an integral aspect of the game and attempts to eliminate it do not help to `improve’ the game rather they are violations not only of its practice but of its spirit. Also, note that the `rules’, even with the instigator rule, are NOT meant to stop fighting. If they were, players would be promptly expelled from games as the first exchange of blows.
    Beware of simplistic solutions to complex activities.
    Beware of moral grandstanding, of self-annointed bullying crusaders who are often less than thoughtful panjandrums, who loudly proclaim that eliminating fighting would be a blow against our `atavistic’ natures, oh yeah, a firm and noble proclamation that `bullying’ will not be tolerated by upstanding citizens such as themselves. LOL. Bullies decrying bullies – Georges ain’t a big bully, he’s merely one tool, amongst many, employed by the team. A classic tactic employed by the real `big bullies’ (which are groups) since, well, human nature first emerged.
    Beware of those who `know’ better, who camouflage personal motives behind a flimsy façade of supposed rational reasoning. It’s not what we don’t know that hurts us so much as what we know for sure that just ain’t so which, here, means get rid of duality and begin to think more `whollistically’ re human nature.
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions – fighting in hockey is not a `problem’ (the instigator rule should be tossed).
    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – imposing artificial constraints on hockey simply to cater to the vociferous protests of a handful of people whatever their motivation is far more violent than any hockey fight – including the Hunter’s pathetic assault of Turgeon.
    Draw your own conclusions.
    Finally, I do hope that Georges employs his skills in a judicious and skillful way, that he will kick butt (especially Leaf butt) most efficiently as well as in a creative and exciting fashion, that the other teams will quake with fear, tremble in despair, beg for mercy when Georges is obliged for both the good of the team and of the game to mete out JUSTICE to the miscreants who would bully our champions.

  2. Dennis, I think you’re right about the Kostitsyns.

    I still think Andrei is the more talented of the two, despite Habs fans insatiable thirst for a rookie phenomenon in Sergei. Andrei, should he ever choose to shoot more will have a legitimate chance to score 50 goals one day, maybe soon.

    Sergei will be a very good player, but as more of an all-rounder with a bias to play making, I just think he won’t be able to reach the superstardom that Andrei could. Some people agree – witness the draft positions.

    One question will be can they co-exist in the same space? Certainly for now they can. And for the foreseeable future. But if both become big stars, and one had to go, who should be kept? My money is still on Andrei, as scorers in this day and age are proving to be far more elusive than all-rounders.

    As for the fighting bit Dennis and Jim. Do you know something about the Kostitsyns that we don’t? Have they been visiting the local boxing club in Minsk?

    I am against fighting primarily because it does not seem to be an integral part of the game to me. I grew up playing in leagues and then mostly shinny where there was never any fighting. We still managed to play and really enjoy the hockey. As such, from my background, fighting is a mere accessory to the game and not a core element like skating, wrist shots and poke checks.

    Obviously the Canadiens must choose the tactics they use based on the league they exist in – which at the moment includes fighting. Adding Laraque is such a tactical deployment, and though I don’t agree with it, my objection is a strategic one and not a moral one.

    I think the strategic objection is valid (borne out of watching teams succeed without fighting), and I think many of the people who were less than pleased with the addition of Laraque have objected on similar grounds. To group all of us under the umbrella of moral crusaders as you seemed to verges on the bullying and grandstanding you claim to abhor.

  3. Topham, about the Kostitsyn’s and fighting. I never said they were good fighters, or even fighters. I said they don’t back down from anyone, which I tried to mean they were often in the thick of rough going and didn’t skate away. And I think you’re right, Andrei is probably the more talented of the two. But Sergei gets the other team riled up.
    I love these guys. I hope Montreal can keep both of them through their prime years.

  4. Topham,

    Alas, my pc was zapped again so I am at the library during a break and cannot say all I want to. Hehe, to keep it short:

    I read your comments with interest. The K bros are great talents and I think their styles differ so obviously because the younger one was shaped by NA Jr hockey. It will be interesting to watch them develop their respective styles. As for whether or not one is better than the other, it’s apples and oranges to me.

    As for the `fighting’, well, it’s up to the individual to locate themselves on this particular map as well as to assess their position. So, no, it’s not for me to tell you what to believe and certainly not why you do so. I certainly respect your reasoning re Laracque – which, incidentally I happen to share – and I like to believe that his role will be first as an effective 4th line gritty grinder and secondly as a `protector’ – NOT an instigator!

  5. Topham,

    Sigh, more glitches.

    To continue: to partially repeat myself, no, I don’t group all who think fighting is peripheral to the game and that the game would be better off without it under the same aegis. Similarly, taking a delineated positon and making explicit the reasons for taking it does not constitute either bullying or grandstanding -it’s called having an opinion and supporting it with explicit and clearly stated reasons. And, to point out that certain behaviours that characterize everything else we do also applies to hockey (the value of sport lies very much in the simple fact that it does not exist in a vaccuum – as some seem to believe – but is, as I pointed out, a microcosm of the society and culture in which it is played) and urging other to make the effort to challenge themselves and to think critically about all things – not only hockey which, again, is a legitimate `object’ of general interest – hardly constitutes moral crusading or grandstanding – last thing the latter want is for people to actually think, to question their assumptions, challenge their beliefs.

    As for personal experience re hockey. Like you I played and only had two – harmless – fights which were more about young boys trying to figure themselves out than about hockey so my personal experience informs me that fighting is not always integral to the game – AT A CERTAIN LEVEL. And, yes, I played shinny which basically involved holding on to the puck which focus is only peripherally `hockey’.
    In other words, I don’t deny my personal experience but I also don’t believe that it provides valid standards for assessing `hockey’ as it is played by strong hard-hitting intense wanna-win-whatever-it-takes young men.

    In this respect, consider this: I drive taxi and like pretty well all my fares I thought the summer here was rainy and gloomy. Boy, we’re we wrong! Turns out the rainfall for July & Augs was considerably less than the average. Only one girl differed, said it had been so far a dry summer. I pointed this out to here and she shrugged, said she was a Saskatchewan farm girl and so `knew’ this kinda stuff. My point? It’s not so much the experience as how we interpret what we `think/believe’ we `know’ that gives the meaning.

    I did also play in an intramural league- no hitting, no slapshots – at the U and we had girls who could barely skate on our team. Yeah, little boys on the other tripped them, bumped them, grabbed them, then sulked and whined when they didn’t win by more than 10 goals. So, again, too bad we weren’t allowed to smack them upside the head because they certainly deserved it.

    So, Topham, again, I did enjoy your comments and although I do not have the time I once did to participate in Dennis’ blog, I hope that whenever I do make an entry and you do react to it that you will engage in a give and take that I believe is healthy and makes this blog more interesting than a mere list of opinions.

  6. Thanks Jim.

    I didn’t mean to state unequivocally that you or anyone was grandstanding or bullying. In a circuitous way, what I meant is that there is a lot of valid opinion to come out against fighting, but in your piece you seemed to harp on some kind of moral crusaders while ignoring some people (I like to include myself) who have come to the conclusion analytically.

    And please let me clarify, I think the roughness is definitely integral to the game. The wrestling on the boards, the reactions to being held and hit. It is the gloves off stuff that I think has had its time.

    In addition to hockey, i have played numerous sports where there is roughness, but where fighting is just against the rules. I would suggest that these sports are no less a microcosm of society than hockey. So why do rugby, football, soccer and waterpolo outlaw fighting? I’m not certain.

    Finally, when I referred to my personal experience, i didn’t mean to imply that it was anything akin to the hockey being played by the best players in the world. However, I do think my personal experience is a valid starting point for my take on the game of hockey. If I watch a game and notice there was no fighting, and think: “Hey, i really enjoyed that game” and then watch another with fights and think: “well those didn’t really add to it for me”, i can reinforce my thesis on the game.

    Everyone begins from a thesis and an opinion on everything. Yours on hockey is clearly explained in the comments above, while I hope mine is a little clearer now.

    I agree about the value of these discussions. They’re good fun and make everything a bit more vivid. I’d write more here, but I’ve committed most of my time to my own blog. But, I’ll try to drop in when I can to give you some extra fodder. You’d be welcome at ours too.

    Cheers

  7. Dennis,

    I was only being facetious about the Kostitsyns being fighters. I was just wondering why there was such a long thesis about fighting after what you had written on Andrei and Sergei. More is clear to me now.

  8. It’s nice to have public forms where we can debate the side issues that matter to us about a given subject.

    I just wanted to stop by and say that after reading Emmy’s guest-post, I wanted to surf through a little bit more of this blog, and I’m enjoying what I find here.

    It’s great to see so much thoughtful and reasoned offseason analysis of the individual players who helped the Habs win this past season. In that way I’ve definitely learned something that I hope I am able to replicate in my own blog.

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