Leftover Crumbs From the Big NHL Amateur Draft

Drafted 28th by the Phoenix Coyotes was a young fellow named Victor Tikhonov. Tikhonov is the grandson of legendary Soviet coach and taskmaster Victor Tikhonov, who we’re all seen over the years getting nasty with his Red Army and Russian National team players.

Grandpa Tikhonov was the cause of the bitter feud between Alexei Kasatonov and Viatcheslav Fetisov. Fetisov hated Tikhonov and everything he stood for. Kasatonov was a firm believer in the coach and the system. So the two, even though they were defence partners with the Red Army club and teammates in New Jersey, wouldn’t speak to each other. I don’t know if this bitterness still exists but it went on for years so it probably does.

Igor Larionov was another who never understood the drill sargeant techniques of Tikhonov. In fact, I think the majority of Soviet players thought he was a rotten bastard.

Tikhonov was once asked by a reporter about the Russian team in 1972 Summit Series, which he wasn’t a part of. “Why does everyone always talk about that team?” he asked, annoyed.  “Some of my teams were better than them.”

I personally was at a game in St. Petersburg between St. Petersburg SKA and Moscow Red Army, which Tikhonov was coaching. After the game I joined a bunch of people milling around him getting autographs, and he was smiling and as friendly as could be. Just like a kindly grandfather. Just like young Victor’s grandfather.

Victor Tikhonov (the grandson) grew up in California and of course speaks english with no accent at all. He didn’t even step foot in his mother country until he was a teenager. So although he played in Russia last year, and played for Russia in the World Juniors, he’s basically an All-American kid.

 

Montreal drafted a kid named Patrick Johnson in the 206th pick. Johnson happens to be the son of Mark Johnson, who captained the USA in the 1980 Olympics when they shocked the world by beating Victor Tikhonov’s Big Red Machine. Mark was also an NHL’er who played for five different teams. And young Victor is the grandson of Badger Bob Johnson, the much-loved coach of the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

Montreal also took right winger Danny Kristo at 56th, a youngster who’s years away from playing in the bigs. He’s still playing high school, then going to college. Kristo’s favourite team before the weekend was Ottawa.

For their 86th pick, the Habs chose 6’3″ Steve Quailer of the Sioux City Musketeers of the US Hockey League.

At the 116th pick, Montreal chose a goalie, Jason Missiawn of the Peterborough Petes, who happens to be, are you ready for this, 6’8″ tall!

And at 138th, they chose Russian Maxim Turnev, who Habs scouts say reminds them of Sergei Kostitisyn.

 

Last but not least is all the brand new turmoil swirling around the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rental player Marion Hossa is going to bolt the team this year and become a hired gun somewhere else. That means, of course, that it was a huge mistake Pittsburgh made by trading away blue chippers Erik Christensen, Colby Armstrong, and junior star Angelo Esposito and a second round draft choice to Atlanta for Hossa.

What was GM Ray Shero thinking? He probably thought Hossa might be the final piece of the puzzle to win the Cup. He was wrong.

Pittsburgh might also lose Ryan Malone, and who knows about Evgeny Malkin. He’s apparently been offered a boatload of money from a Russian team, and he says he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, but who knows? Los Angeles also seems interested.

Instead of the Penguins looking like the young Edmonton Oilers of the 1980′s, they could end up looking like the recent Ottawa Senators.

5 thoughts on “Leftover Crumbs From the Big NHL Amateur Draft”

  1. DK,

    At first I wasn’t overly comfortable with the Tanguay deal but now I think it might have been a very good move. He’s an experienced pro, proven point getter and the past year he showed himself to be more than adequate defensively as well as being a good teammate – I do think his personal style will be more compatible with Montreal than with Calgary.

    In counterpoint, much as I enjoy watching young prospects make their respective ways, we’ve got good depth with a plethora of up and coming players and there just weren’t any choices (discounting the usual sleepers) out there that could help us in the short term and, well, as everybody knows it’c pretty much a crap shoot once you’re in the twenties. Kristo was ranked 37th so I guess we got a deal there. Quailer & Johnson, no ideas whatsoever. The Russkies? The usual cyphers for the usual reasons: if they `decide’ to play then there’s a good chance they will show themselves to be talented simply because the pool of potential players is so huge in Russia but the odds are that they will sink back into that great anonymous energy-sapping, talent-leveling Russian reservoir. Myself, I think that just as we can/and do yak about `bloodlines’, about how like produces like, how players produce players, competitors competitors – hence, Johnson & Tikhonov are the interesting ones to watch perhaps more for the intangibles such as discipline, will to compete, willingness to sacrifice, etc etc than for purely physical attributes – we can also locate players in place and historical time. By this I mean that, for example, we do expect certain qualities to be exhibited by our own boys, qualities such as no-quit determination, grittiness, hard work, no complaining, qualities which we’ve come to associate with a `Canadian’ style of play and which not only hearken back to the origins of the sport in shinny played all day and often into the night in sub-zero weather but also in our sense of collective identity that is rooted in a shared sense of historical endeavour (at least the events/movements we officially recognize and promote) such as our social welfare programs, our health care system, the War Of 1812, Vimy Ridge, the attitudes stemming from British traditions and institutions, Steele of the Mounties, & etc etc. I think that if we look at Russian hockey players through this particular lens then we will come to a better understanding of them, of the `Russian factor’ as it were. I believe that their attitudes and behaviour can be attibuted in large part to those amorphous pressures that have kept Russia in constant ferment in, at best, at best a kind of self-repeating economic/political/social stasis since the fall of the Berlin wall. I mean, the Chinese with only limited resources and far less `freedom’ has clearly shown that they are more `resolute’, more `focused’, more `committed’ to building a viable country – ha! wait till hockey catches on there! – than the Russians. Why? In part, because China has a tradition of independent entrepreneurship that has endured, even thrived over the centuries despite the vicissitudes of political system and socio-cultural upheaval. In other words there are powerful intangible forces, believes and traditional maps that impel the Chinese to engage in more coherent more goal-oriented behaviours than their Russian counterparts. Also, in part, the crippling impact of the complete domination of the Russian sphere (Russia then was a hodge-podge of competing city-states and not a unified whole as we know it today) during the middle ages by Mongol/Golden Horde invaders has been little understood simply because it was deemed so negative that the facts of this crucial formative period literally expunged from the official historical records. So what I’m suggesting here is that there is a self-abnegating thread of `defeatism’ of `fatalistic pre-determination’ embedded in the collective cultural identity that probably enabled Russians to survive during a prolonged period – hundreds of years – of violent oppression but that now inhibits the development of other traits that would have more felicitous outcomes for them both individually and collectively today. In this sense, it seems to me that Russian players are similar to young blacks in the ghetto and natives on the reserve (the fact of their `majority’ status perhaps obscures this dynamic?) in that they are confronted by pressures to conform to, if not the lowest, a lower common denominator, to not go getting `too big for one’s britches’ & etc attitudes that can only work towards neutralizing their talents, their ambitions, their drive to excel. Thus, the growing realization that a Russian who has played in the NA junrior system is far more likely to be a dependable choice than one who has not reflects a practical awareness of how players are shaped by their immediate social environment – get them away from their parastic posses – and an intuitive acknowledgment of the insidious power and influence of inherited cultural norms. The individuals who succeed in extricating themselves from this quagmire relentlessly pulling at them, sucking them down into the anonymous mud from which they are struggling to emerge are therefore, in my opinion, not only accomplished athletes but truly exceptional people who merit our highest respect and special tolerance for their efforts simply because in overcoming the inertia of historical and socio-cultural pressures they overcome much much more than the usual obstacles to success in the ultra-demanding world of pro-sports. And, yes, it seems to me that `class’ does play an important role in this respect, that players such as Tikhonov and Filipova who have benefited from better education and a more cosmopolitan upbringing are much more likely to make the transition than players who have not, players such as Trunev and Burtulin for example. Of course, it goes without saying that I would very much like to see the former prove me wrong, at least with respect to him.

  2. DK,

    I agree with you re the Pens. On the one hand, Hossa produced the way they wanted/expected but on the other they gutted the team of a handful of strong young players who had had a direct impact on the successful development of the team to that point. The short view obliterated the longer one with the result that the Pens may fall back into the pack next year. I think this failure to properly assess the potential cost to the team of the Hossa deal was due to the unrealistic belief that the Pens were not only able to compete for the Cup but able to win it. The overall dominance of the Wings clearly demonstrated what it takes for a team to win the Cup and why it is so difficult to do so. The Pens simply did not have the depth, the experience, the `acquired’ will to do it this year. But, hey, I can imagine how tempting the fruit must have looked to the Pens brass (Aesop’s fable here?). Alas for the Pens, in this case, the Cup was not lost due to management gaffs this year but perhaps because of them it will be lost in the years to come. I hope so! Hehe, I like to think we’re on the right road alert to all the signs and ready to pass when the conditions are right.

  3. Habber, you must have got a new computer! But however you’re doing it, it’s nice to see. Someday I hope to have a whole slew of people weighing in,like you and Mike and often, La Punkette, but they say a good blog takes patience and mine’s a mere seven months old. I still have a bunch of readers but certainly not like it was when the playoffs were on. But I’m hoping…….
    Anyway, thanks.

  4. Did you see Buffalo’s giant draft pick?! I couldn’t stop laughing. He’s a beast, plus we have all these midget forwards. The team picture will be hilarious!

    I disagree with the Pens decision too. I really thought losing Armstrong was a mistake. I’ll take him on our team! A lot of Sabre fans want Orpik as well because he grew up in our area.

  5. Dani, I saw and him and he’d better leave the Kostitsyn’s alone or I’m gonna buy a ladder and hit him over the head.

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