Tag Archives: Mikhail Grigorenko

Not Quite For Canada

Congratulations to the U.S. junior squad for grabbing gold in Ufa after their 3-1 win over Sweden, and cheers to Russia for winning bronze, although I say it with a severe case of lack of enthusiasm after Team Canada fell to the home country 6-5 in overtime.

Canada clawed their way back a couple of times after being down by two, and throughout the third period and into overtime they had numerous chances, including ringing the rubber off goal posts not once but twice. But it wasn’t to be.

It’s always tough to see young hockey players lose a heartbreaker, especially when it’s your own country. But that’s sports. The agony and the ecstasy. And in the ecstasy department, the Americans, in their game against the Swedes, rebounded in the second period after being down by one, with little Californian Rocco Grimaldi scoring twice to put his team in the lead, a lead they never surrendered.

One player who caught my eye throughout the tournament was Mikhail Grigorenko, who went 12th in the 2012 entry draft, selected by Buffalo. Montreal, of course, chose Alex Galchenyuk third. Grigorenko is a big, long-legged smoothie, and has a chance of becoming a Jean Beliveau-type player, or on the other hand, maybe a Benoit Pouilot-type player. And believe me, it’s not easy to mention these players in the same breath. Please don’t misconstrue my Jean Beliveau analogy.

Next year the tourney will take place in Malmo, Sweden, which means another two weeks of extremely early games for us on this side of the pond. Malmo is the birthplace of siren Anita Ekberg, if you’re interested.

anita-ekberg

Anita

Russians Fall To Canutskys

Team Canada downed the Russians 4-1 on Russian soil at Unrestrictedfreeagentgrad, (Ufa) and although the Russian squad boasts a couple of players everyone’s talked about for a year or two – Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko, the Canadians have guys called Grit and Heart and Malcolm Subban in their lineup, with Subban playing great between the pipes and stopping all but one, including a penalty shot, although it was fired wide.

Too bad the young fellow belongs to Boston. It’s the only bummer I can muster right now.

Onward it goes. Canada earns a bye to the semi-final way off on Friday, which gives them good time to nurse their aches and pains and buy nesting dolls for their families, and will play the winner of the U.S./Czech contest, which will be held on Wednesday. Russia and Switzerland hammer it out on the same day for the right to take on Sweden in the other semi-final.

Canada and the U.S. would be an excellent match-up, as would Russia and Sweden. Who knows how things will unfold at that point. But I have faith. I’m a proud Canadian.

Wouldn’t it be weird to see Switzerland win the whole thing?

Going For Galchenyuk

It was an impressive bunch indeed who took part in the recent NHL Combine, a 100 or more young physical specimens lifting and jumping and squeezing in front of an audience of NHL bigshots who studied these young fellows like men ogling strippers from the front seats of a strip club.

These young guys, strong, quick, and with great hair, are ready to make their mark in the big leagues, and watching them is a reminder how things have changed in pro sports with big contracts on the line. Long gone are the days of whipping into shape two weeks before the season opener. Gone are the days of the chubby and out-of-shape. Rest in peace, Gump Worsley.

With Montreal choosing third on Friday’s Entry Draft, it was interesting to see these kids and hear them talk and see what they can bring to the table. Do the Habs need a great young defenceman such as Ryan Murray, Mathew Dumba, or Morgan Rielly, or is a flashy forward like Mikhail Grigorenko or Alex Galchenyuk the answer? For me, from watching the Combines, I’m hoping it’s Galchenyuk who puts on the CH in four days.

Galchenyuk not only impressed at the Combines with his jumping and lifting, but also with his personality. This is is a kid with all kinds of charisma, and the fans, media, and ladies would love him. If Montreal is going to have a great young superstar, it’s terrific that he’s interesting and doesn’t come off as a cardboard talking head.

Most importantly, of course, is his talent, and from all accounts, this guy has plenty. He’s a big 6’2, 185 lb. package of speed and skill, notching 83 points in 68 games as a 16-year old with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. The following season he played only two regular season games and six playoff contests because of a knee injury, but that hasn’t seemed to bother scouts and general managers. He makes them drool even without playing.

Galchenyuk is also a bit of a curiosity. He’s American-born, from Milwaukee, his dad was a minor league hockey player, but the family returned to Minsk when Alex was a toddler. The family would come back to the U.S. when the young fellow was 15 so he could play Midget AAA for the Chicago Young Americans, where he sparkled, and a year later he was drafted by the Sarnia Sting.

Galchenyuk speaks English with a light Russian accent, and is a dual citizen, holding both American and Russian passports. He has said that when it comes time to play for his country, it would be the U.S., which should put to rest any concerns about the kid bolting to the KHL. That and the fact that he’s spent his formative teen years in North America honing his craft.

Galchenyuk apparently has what it takes to be a star in the NHL, and what better place to shine than in Montreal? In interviews he’s showed he’s not nervous in front of a microphone, he believes in himself, and seems a rare breath of fresh air. He’s poised and skilled and you would have to think there would be an opening for him in the near future when you consider the Habs’ centremen currently consists of David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller, Ryan White, and yes, Scott Gomez. Surely he’d find a spot in there somewhere. And it’s just another in several dozen reasons to send Gomez packing.

Of course, all this is wasted two-fingered typing if the young fellow goes second, after Nail Yakupov, or fourth, which is the Islanders’ pick. I’m just saying he’d be a nice pick for the Habs, and I’m hoping it happens.

 

 

Hope For This, Or That, Or The Other Thing

The Canadiens are in Buffalo tonight to wrap up their last big road trip of the season, one that took them to Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver before western New York, and Hobo has brought up something very much worth considering.

Wouldn’t it be great if the team began to play a much better brand of hockey without screwing up the chance they have now to grab a nice high pick in the June draft?

But what do you do? Hopefully not slack off, because it’s a pride thing, to do the best job possible, to play for next year, and to show respect for the many fans who support and buy tickets and cheer through thick and then.

But damn, to begin fresh change, a blue-chipper is a fine building block, maybe a cornerstone to both the near and distant future, and to get one, one must fail miserably.

My sometimes static brain tells me that this year has been such a washout for the Canadiens, that if they can salvage the final bunch of games and show us and themselves that they’re not the sad-sack Habs, as the Vancouver Sun called them, it would give us hope, and they might be biting at the bit for next year to get going and make everyone forget the bummer called the 2011-2012 season.

Maybe that’s more important than a high draft pick, but of course, maybe not.

What would you prefer, a top three draft pick, or a team playing extremely well for the next 13 games and showing high promise for next year with Andrei Markov healthy as all get out.?

A Yakupov or Grigorenko or whoever else is near the top rung would be just fantastic. But Alex Ovechkin went number one (in 2004), and we’ve yet to see him help his Washington Capitals win much of anything..

Will Montreal play much better now that Markov has returned? It sure looked like it after his first game back, in Vancouver. What if the power play begins to blossom, the seemingly newfound toughness with Brad Staubitz helps turn the tide, and there are no more blowing of games in the third period for these last remaining baker’s dozen?

If it happens, the draft pick won’t be as high, but suddenly they’re not sad sacks anymore. It’s very difficult.

Maybe we should just focus on the general manager, a bilingual coach, and the guy from Anchorage, Alaska, and what can be done there.