Tag Archives: Pavel Bure

HOF Post Game Comments

The Hockey Hall of Fame Induction ceremony went off swimmingly, except for the time maybe when Mats Sundin pronounced Elmer Lach’s name “Latch,” and Patrick Roy took a swipe at the Canadiens, saying they decided to trade him, which only sort of happened after Roy told Ronald Corey he’d never play another game with the team. Maybe he’s upset he wasn’t hired as coach or GM.

The speeches went smoothly, although Bill Hay’s seemed long and drawn out, but I thought Pavel Bure’s was excellent, as were the others..

And to cap off a fine night, Gary Bettman looked tired, hollow, concerned, pale, and not a happy camper whatsoever, and the women looked lovely.

New Kids In The Hall

Congratulations to Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Pavel Bure, and Adam Oates for their induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the shrine in Toronto that houses photos, plaques, artifacts, and memories of players who once played  the sport that has become extinct and remembered by oldtimers who think back to a time, like last year, when the game was actually being played and fans would come to the rinks with full wallets and leave with empty wallets.

These are four worthy inductees, all classy, all proficient, and which include two Canadians (Oates and Sakic), one Swede (Sundin), and one Russian (Bure). Bure was a shoo-in to make it big ever since he, Alex Mogilny, and Sergei Fedorov dazzled in the World Junior Championships when they were just young, peach-fuzzed Russkies. I also remember talking to a buddy about Bure and agreeing that this guy must not have had any trouble getting the ladies when he was starring in Vancouver.

Sundin rubbed me the wrong way slightly when he came out of retirement to play for the Vancouver Canucks, taking him until January to actually make up his mind and lace up for a measly five million to play half a season Sundin Helps His Wallet. But a great player, huge at 6’5, 230 pounds, and enjoyed a brilliant career, particularly in Toronto.

Adam Oates was not only a great playmaker but also an excellent musician, teaming up with Daryl Hall to record such smash hits as “Rich Girl” and “Kiss is on my List.” Oh wait, wrong guy. Oates teamed up with Brett Hull in St. Louis to become Hull and Oates, not Hall and Oates. Sorry.

Joe Sakic is from Burnaby, which explains why he’s called Burnaby Joe. A quiet and all-round respected and admired fellow who was such an excellent player, and whom of course would have looked mighty fine in a Habs uniform. He possessed a wicked wrist shot, and just seems to be a fine gentleman, as do the other three as well.

Four great players who deserve to be called Hall of Famers, and I can’t wait to see what their wives, if they’re all married, look like at the ceremony.

 

Bure Exploded

 

I watched the Hall of Fame announcements the other day, and I’m only just now waking up from the coma.

Bill Hay, Jim Gregory, and Pat Quinn gave us the four new names (Adam Oates, Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, and Mats Sundin), like they were giving a eulogy at a funeral. It was like everyone was dead – not just the newly-elected and still-alive players, but Hay, Gregory and Quinn too, who may or may not have been propped up with someone behind working their mouths..

It made a Catholic retreat seem like a biker bash.

Regardless, the four players deserve the honour, and I can’t help thinking how Pavel Bure would have made such a fantastic Montreal Canadien.

Bure, although he came a half dozen years or so after Guy Lafleur had left Montreal, would have been a wonderful successor to the throne. We haven’t had a true superstar since our number ten, and Bure would have fit the bill perfectly. But alas, he ended up with the Canucks, (and then the Panthers and Rangers) which was too bad for us and too bad for him.

I remember Bure during the 1989 World Junior Championship in Anchorage. He, along with linemates Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov, dazzled and burned up the tournament. Bure was a sight to behold. His blinding speed, his explosiveness, his goal-scoring, all with a face that looked to be about 11 years old. And he brought all of that to the NHL.

What a Hab he would’ve been. A new gunslinger in town who played a style of hockey most Habs fans love and older ones remember from heros no longer donning skates, or dead like Bill Hay, Jim Gregory, and Pat Quinn. Bure would have brought his girlfriend at the time, Anna Kournikova, to Montreal, and I would have seen that she was comfortable while Pavel streaked down the ice and netted huge goals to the roar of the crowd.

Certain teams need certain players; Boston likes guys who give the finger to fans and noses, Philadelphia leans towards obnoxiousness and lousy goalies, and Bure, with the offence and excitement he provided, would have been a terrific fire-wagon Hab. On the ice at least. Off ice, the Russian Rocket was apparently aloof, arrogant, and selfish, which led the Vancouver Sun’s Elliot Pap to say the only way they should hang Bure’s sweater from the rafters would be if he was still in it.

But that’s beside the point. It was what he did on skates as a smallish-yet-shifty right winger, and it was plenty. Besides, Pat Burns, and then Jacques Demers, would’ve kicked his ass.

 

 

Shooting From The Lip

A fellow at work brought in a book for me to read called “Shooting From The Lip” (2004), which is a compilation of hockey quotes. Here’s a few of them…..

My brother Dash hit me on the head with five textbooks in a gym bag. Tie Domi, asked about the hardest hit he’s ever received

Man, is that guy ripped. I mean, I’ve got the washboard stomach, too. It’s just that mine has about two months of laundry on top of it. Shawn Burr on Eric Lindros

Every time I see you naked, I feel sorry for your wife. Jaromir Jagr to teammate Matthew Barnaby

They always try to play with our minds. But that won’t work with our club. We’ve got 20 guys without brains. Bobby Clarke in 1976 when Red Army played Philadelphia

I was young and stupid then. Now I’m not young anymore. Jyrki Lumme on his early years with Montreal

You can always get someone to do your thinking for you. Gordie Howe, during a 1970′s appearance on the Dick Cavett Show, on why hockey players always wear a protective cup but rarely a helmet

It’s about 40% technique and about 75% strength. 6’1″ Canadien Patrice Brisebois, on why he lost a fight to Theo Fleury

Everything was set for us to play a real good game. Then we left the dressing room and everything went to hell. Thrashers coach Curt Fraser

The kids just aren’t the same anymore. Canadien Doug Gilmour after asking a rookie to sneak a case of 24 beers onto the team bus and finding out he only got six cans

Only problem is I was going high on the glove side. Senator Lance Pitlick on scoring his first goal of the season with a low shot to the stick side

Guys, I don’t want to tell you half-truths unless they’re completely accurate. Canadiens coach Alain Vigneault after a loss in 1999

It’s not so much maturity as it is growing up. Bruin Jay Miller, asked if his improved play was due to maturity

Jason Arnott will be here as long as I’m here, for the time being. Oilers GM Glen Sather on Arnott trade rumours

He could rile up the Montreal fans in a hurry. God, sometimes I felt sorry for the man. He must have got a standing ovation when he went shopping. Gordie Howe on Maurice Richard

It’s always good to have the building filled, even if it’s with low-IQ Rangers fans. Islander GM Mike Milbury before a home game against the Rangers

I’m the luckiest man alive. I don’t even like the game and I’m successful at it. Brett Hull

I’d rather fight than score. Dave Schultz

Rocket had that mean look on, every game we played. He could hate with the best of them. Gordie Howe on Maurice Richard

Life is just a place where we spend time between games. Flyers coach Fred Shero

Hockey is like a religion in Montreal. You’re either a saint or a sinner., there’s no in-between. Patrick Roy

Hmmm, 600 games? What does it mean? It means I’m that much closer to getting fired. Jacques Lemaire after coaching his 600th game

Playing with Steve Guolla is like playing with myself. Shark Jeff Friesen on his teammate

What I’ve learned so far is that to win the Stanley Cup, you have to make the playoffs. Caps owner Ted Leonsis

Every time I get injured, my wife ends up getting pregnant. Blackhawk Doug Wilson

I don’t care if we lose every game for the next five years and the team goes broke and moves to Moose Jaw. I will not trade Pavel Bure. Canucks GM Brian Burke several weeks before trading Bure to to the Panthers

Brian Sutter said I looked liked Charles Manson. He called me Charlie, then it became Killer. Canadien Doug Gilmour on the source of his “Killer” nickname

 

It’s All Peace And Love With Don Cherry And Alex Ovechkin. (And Bure And Malkin Too)

The following is a fascinating interview with Don Cherry in May of 2008 from the Russian magazine “Sport Express”.

27 May 2008 Slava Malamud 

Don talks about his favourite Russian player of all time, and about others including Alex Ovechkin, whom the Habs encounter on Friday night. This article has been translated into English.

Don Cherry Loves Ovechkin

27 May 2008 Slava Malamud

 

Don Cherry: “We will beat you in Vancouver!”

Who doesn’t know Don Cherry? Everyone knows Don Cherry! There is no better known hockey commentator in North America than this former Boston coach and owner of countless crazy jackets, more colorful than a flock of peacocks. All of Canada drops what they are doing during the “Coaches Corner” segment of the popular “Hockey Night in Canada” show to tune in and see what the former Adams Trophy winner and number one Canadian patriot will say next.

Recently, the largest television channel in Canada organized a nationwide vote for the “Greatest Canadian of All Time”.  Canadians’ love for hockey is not as universal as you might think, and public and political figures won the top spots.  Wayne Gretzky only made it to tenth place. Two places behind Don Cherry.

Old-time Don is uncompromising in his Canadian conservatism. He praises those who play with wooden sticks, and mercilessly flames Sidney Crosby for his lack of manliness. He has become famous as a fierce hater of Europeans and “Frenchies” who don’t know how to fight decently. He smothers the final words of anyone who excessively and extravagantly celebrates goals. He makes patriotic speeches and honors Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan. In general, he is a wonderful character in his own unique way.

I have to admit that Don has me slightly intimidated. An old friend of mine, a leading reporter for the Canadian Press agency, warned me that Don would just a soon try and punch a Russian in the eye as say a single word to him. In reality, everything turned out much easier. The colorful 74 year old commentator whom I met at a Detroit practice session, along with his no less well-known TV partner Ron MacLean, was unbelievably pleasant. Even Don’s jacket on this non-broadcast day was a muted grey color. And his opinions of Russia were far from as radical as you might have expected.

Cherry adores both talking about and sharing his insights about hockey.

BURE WAS THE BEST RUSSIAN

-You have a reputation as a great patriot of Canadian hockey…

-“Well put!”

-Could you define “Canadian Hockey”? What does that mean to you?

-“I will tell you that I am not a big fan of the hockey that the NHL teams are playing now. I would give me great pleasure to see how Pavel Bure would play in today’s league—with his ability to play open hockey, he would hit 70 goals. By the way, he is my favorite Russian hockey player of all time.

-To be honest, you just surprised me.  As I recall, you weren’t very flattering of him.

-“At one time, yes. If you remember, at the very beginning of his career I once said something about Pavel. This happened after he sneakily tripped Cam Neely (former Boston star and one of the greatest “big” forwards of the NHL..ed.).  After that I was okay with him. But Pavel turned into one of my favorites after he elbowed Shane Churla (former Dallas forward.. ed.) in the head.   When I saw that, I immediately said “this is my kind of hockey player!”

-And what did you call him, when he knocked down Neely?

-“A skunk. (equivalent to “rat” in Russian.. ed.).  But I will repeat that I grew very fond of him. That guy had courage. He played hockey like it should be played. It was a real tragedy what happened to his knee…”

-You’ve seen a lot of Russian players. Why exactly do you choose Bure?

-“Boldness. He reminds me of Bobby Orr with his love for risk. By the way, just like Bobby it was for this reason that he was forced to leave hockey at a young age. If he saw a hole, he went for it. If he had to hit someone, he wasn’t afraid of hitting the boards. Unfortunately, those types of hockey players don’t last long in the game. Yes, in my opinion, he should be a standard for all Russian players. I haven’t seen anyone better.”

MALKIN NEEDS TO BE SHAKEN UP

-So let’s return to Canadian hockey..

-“It’s very simple. Did you see the goal that Dan Cleary scored in the first match of the finals? That is my type of Canadian Hockey. Forward to the net, throw the puck into the zone, a lot of fights, a lot of powerful hits… I also love fights (and who doesn’t?), but strong hits are more important.”

-And how did you like the Russian players in the series? All three attackers and Gonchar on defense?

-“Why wouldn’t I like them? But I will tell you that when I was coaching at Boston, I had the best attacking defenseman of all time, Bobby Orr. Now there was a player!  This attacking defenseman took hip checks and blocked shots.”

-Sort of like Malkin, for example?

-“Someone needs to shake that boy up. You are Russian, so you tell me—why has he been playing so terribly the last two rounds?”

-He told me yesterday that he was nervous.

-“I hope he gets it together. If he doesn’t start playing better, his team won’t win a single match. They are depending on him very heavily, eh? It seemed to me that he was really shook up after a hard hit by Richards in the Philadelphia series.  He hasn’t played the same since.”

-Do you like his style? He tries to stay out of the hot spots on the ice…

-“He will be okay, if he can only get mad and start to play like someone has offended him. He doesn’t have enough of that in him right now. If he can’t—the series will end in four games.”

HOCKEY NEEDS ANIMOSITY BETWEEN CANADA AND RUSSIA

-It seems that of all the Russian players, Ovechkin is most “your type”.

-“Oh yes. I really like Ovechkin. He plays like you have to play hockey. He has speed, he shoots, he hits… I think that he is the best player in the world. Anyway, from my point of view.”

-Can you share your impression of the first World Championships held on Canadian soil?

-“I really liked it. The Russians played great, but we weren’t any worse. If there wasn’t a stupid penalty at the end, you could say that the teams were equal. Of course, we didn’t have some players available, but that was the same for the Russians. Generally it was really a good thing that the Russians played better, because an animosity between Canada and Russia is really necessary. For some reason, in Canada everyone loves to watch just because of that.”

-Did the Russian team surprise you?

-”Yes, that they played with such emotion. I am always impressed when a team plays strongly and with passion. This might be the influence of Ovechkin. He is a great guy! He isn’t afraid of contact, and he loves to fight for the puck.”

-Do you think he has a chance to become one of the greatest players…

-“Absolutely!”

-…in the history of the NHL?

-“Whoa, now hold on a second. In history? Let’s not go nuts here. In the top ten—if he keeps up the same tempo, for sure. But the best?…. Hmmmmm.”

-So who is the best?

-“Oh, Bobby Orr! Who else? Think about it—this guy left hockey due to a knee injury when he was 31 years old. His last high-production year was when he was 27, in 1975. Look at the statistics—I know them by heart: 46 goals (league leader!), 89 assists. And this is for a defender! And now, most important: his +/- rating in his best season was +128! (actually, +124.. ed.). The guy who will win the prize this year for +/- only has a +45 rating (Pavel Datsyuk, actually +41..ed.).  He is the best player in the history of hockey. Neither you nor I will ever see anyone better.”

I AM THE LAST CANADIAN

-What do you personally remember most from the Russian-Canadian hockey animosity?

-“My favorite episode was the “Punch-up in Piestany” (the mass fight at the Junior Hockey World Championships in Czechoslovakia in 1987..ed.). This was one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever experienced in hockey. I was especially surprised by how well the Russians could dish it out. I thought we’d mop the ice with them, but those boys stood up. Great memories.”

-By the way, do you remember Andrei Nazarov, the only Russian enforcer in the NHL? He is working now as a commentator for the playoffs. What do you have to say about him?

-“He was a decent guy, who could drop the gloves well. Generally speaking, the Russians have gotten closer, but as far as enforcers go, they really can’t compete with us.”

-In Canada there are stereotypes concerning Russian players, which, by the way, you have done your part to spread. Concerning the lack of passion, the fear of contact…

-“Ahh, that’s ancient history! Canadians adore Russians! They love them more than they love their own! When I was returning from Quebec, I heard someone on the radio say that he was happy that the Russians won. Can you believe that?”

-And why was he happy?

-“How the hell would I know? Everyone has lost their minds.  I alone remain 100% Canadian. Right now I am probably more like you Russians. You love Russia, and in the same manner I love Canada. And half of the Canadian (censored…ed.) go mad about the Russians.”

OVECHKIN THE CANADIAN

-So you personally now view Russian hockey players in a new light?

-“This is all because of Ovechkin. We keep returning to the exact same players in our conversation- Orr, Bure and Ovechkin, and there is a reason for this. I don’t think that you have ever had a player like Ovechkin. Never. He plays like a Canadian! Seriously, think about it. Just like one of ours. Can I give him a higher compliment?”

-And what do you think of Fedorov?

-“He is good. Fedorov, Larionov—I like them. But Ovechkin stands alone. He is following in Bure’s footsteps—the best Russian.

-What type of future is there for the great hockey animosity between Russia and Canada?

-“An outstanding one. Canadians will take care of this. Of course we don’t have anything against games with the Swedes or the Finns, but oh how we love to beat the Russians!”

-Do you think that in Vancouver in two years these two teams will be the unconditional favorites?

-“Yes. The Swedes and the Finns- are normal teams, but the Russians will be in the lead. With Canada.

-And your prognosis for the final?

-“Just let it try and not come true! We will beat you.”

Three Pretenders To The Throne. And One King

At least four major athletes have carried the handle of “Rocket” during their careers.  I wonder who the real holder of this title is? Hmm.

ismailRaghib ‘Rocket’ Ismail? He was a star football player in college, the Canadian Football League and the NFL, made millions, and promptly went broke after losing his fortune with bad investments in restaurants, movies and phone card dispensers among others. Now he gets jobs on reality shows like Pros vs. Joes, where average guys try to deke him out on the gridiron, and Ty Murray’s Bull Riding Challenge. He also coaches Slamball, whatever that is. Is he The Rocket? Not a chance.

clemensRoger ‘Rocket’ Clemens? One 0f the greatest pitchers in the history of the major leagues with over 4000 career strikeouts. Unfortunately, this Rocket was discovered to be juiced up on steroids for much of his career and has had several extra-marital relationships, including adultery with a then-15 year old country singer named Mindy McCready. And in Joe Torre’s book ‘The Yankee Years’, Torre writes that Clemens would soak in extremely hot water and then have the hottest possible muscle liniment applied to his genitals during rub-downs. Would he be the true Rocket? Not even close. 

burePave Bure, ‘The Russian Rocket’? A great hockey player, speedy, tricky, slick. Also a prima donna who had his own room in the dressing room, apart from his teammates, a la Barry Bonds. He’s now General Manager of the Russian Oympic team. Bure has also had his share of controvery. He apparently started dating tennis star Anna Kournikova while she was still Sergei Fedorov’s woman and endured his share of gossip column chatter. And then there were those alleged ties with the Russian mafia.

Is Bure the true Rocket? A great player, but no way.

And then there’s the other Rocket. The only Rocket. I don’t have to go any further.

Out With The Old. Plus…Mini-Rant About Habs Players Nowadays

0024

If there’s any lingering doubt that Bob Gainey and company have been hard at work the last few years trying to find solutions to the mess they’ve found themselves in, you don’t have to look any further than this photo of the 2007-2008 Montreal Canadiens – just two seasons ago.

The photo shows 24 players on the team.

In just over a year, 13 players from this photo, more than half the team, are gone – Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins, Mikhail Grabovski, Francis Bouillon, Mark Streit, Michael Ryder, Patrice Brisebois, Tom Kostopoulos, Mathieu Dandenault, Steve Begin, Mike Komisarek, and Brian Smolinski.

Only Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn Sergei Kostitsyn, Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik, Guillaume Latendresse, Maxim Lapierre, and Ryan O’Byrne remain.

Then eliminate guys who came in a year ago like Robert Lang, Alex Tanguay, and Mathieu Schneider.

You can also delete George Gillett, Guy Carbonneau, Roland Melanson, Doug Jarvis, and probably a few others in suits I’m just not aware of.

Brian Smolinski, from that team of two years ago, seemed to understand what it meant to wear the CH. He’d get autographs of the legends he’d see around the Bell Centre, from the likes of Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Dickie Moore and Ken Dryden. He’d heard the stories growing up from his grandfather and father, and got personalized autographs for them from these Hall of Famers. He talked to them, and knew he was in the presence of greatness. But unfortunately, nowadays, there are very few Brian Smolinski’s coming to Montreal who appreciate what it all means. Alex Tanguay says he knew nothing about the Habs prior to arriving. The Russian guys wouldn’t have any understanding of the history, they grew up hearing about Pavel Bure and Igor Larionov, and come to North America simply for a better life. For a young goalie like Carey Price, forget about Dryden, Gump Worsley, or Jacques Plante.  Those players were from a distant planet. Heck, Patrick Roy was ancient for Price, having left the Habs when Price was only eight years old.

For most of these young bucks, putting on a cherished Montreal Canadiens jersey doesn’t hold any more importance than putting on a Phoenix Coyotes jersey. Maybe if young Habs read a few books about the team and players who came before them, they might pick it up a notch.

The Alexei Cherepanov Tragedy Shows That Vladislav Tretiak Is Dreaming

Vladislav Tretiak, the great Russian goalie who gave fits to Team Canada in 1972 and the Montreal Canadiens on New Year’s Eve, 1975, is a proud Russian, and as President of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, desparately wants his country to be a real hockey country.

 In fact, he’s predicting the new Russian league, the Continental Hockey League (KHL), will soon be as good as the NHL in all aspects. The money’s there, Jaromir Jagr’s there, and the crowds are sort of there.

 What’s not there, it seems, are ambulances and parametics. And without crucial intangibles like that, the KHL doesn’t stand a chance in hell of ever been the equal of the National Hockey League.

The incredible tragedy of 19 year old Russian star Alexei Cherepanov only points out that the Russians may never really get it. The night his heart stopped while sitting on the bench of his team Avangard Omsk, the parametics had already left the building and had to be called back, which of course meant they took too long.

 How come they left? Was it break time?

 There was no defibrillator in the arena. Nobody had thought that maybe there should be. And papers are saying that the emergency doctors who finally got around to taking Cherepanov to the hospital were later assaulted and beaten up by thugs. What’s that all about?

 It’s all very sinister. And a young fellow with major talent, with his whole life ahead of him, who was going to be the next Pavel Bure or Alex Ovechkin, died. It’s not only incredibly sad, but unforgivable the way the situation was handled.

 I’ve been to several games in Russia involving Moscow Red Army, St. Petersburg SKA, and other Super League teams, and it’s definitely not the NHL over there. I don’t know what the KHL looks like, but it can’t be a whole lot different than what I saw. And what I saw didn’t even come close to the NHL. Not by a country mile. It didn’t even come close to a major Junior A game.

 Atmosphere, the hockey, the cheerleaders, whatever. Not even close.

 If Tretiak thinks the league there will compete with the NHL, he and the rest have a lot of work to do.

 In the meantime, maybe they should think a little harder about having medical staff on hand when thousands of people are in the stands, and players are playing a physical game.

 It makes sense to most of us. Why didn’t it to the Russians?

The Continental Hockey League Is A Curious Thing Indeed

It’ll be interesting to see how things play out in the next few years regarding the new Russian Continental Hockey League. They’ve now wooed a trickle of players there, Alexander Radulov being the latest, before that, Jaromir Jagr and others, and they welcome with open arms those who’ve basically worn out their welcome in the NHL such as Chris Simon and Ray Emery.

 

This is a league about to begin play in September, and is the blossoming flower that has emerged from the wilted Russian Elite League. It’s a league with money, thanks to a Russia that went from a penniless nation to a filthy rich empire, all because businessmen learned how to become capitalists and how Russian oil barons clued in on how to make lots of money with a product the rest of the world already knew what to do with.

 

Players in the past, Alexander Mogilny, Pavel Bure, Sergei Federov, etc., said goodbye to friends and family a couple of decades ago because they saw players in North America, often with lesser talent, making hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, while they toiled under the tired mess in their homeland for maybe $200 a month if they were lucky.

 

Eventually, every great young Russian player made his way to the NHL, and we thought they most definitely are enjoying an upgrade in quality of life compared to the old country.

 

But players are starting to go back, because the money offered by the new league seems as silly as it is in the NHL. Which brings us to the real question: If this league is for real, how many Russian players will be left in the NHL in a few years from now?

 

Of course it’s natural that players will return to their roots, to what they know, to their families and their familiar foods and language.

 

But it goes beyond all of that. As I’ve said in older posts, I’ve been to Russia six or seven times, and I see, albeit maybe just scratching the surface, what life is like there. And in general, it’s not a pretty picture.

 

Rich hockey players will have nice apartments, but they still have to go outside. Russia’s not a clean country. It’s not an overly friendly place, especially in shops and subways. It’s not a safe place, it’s important to leave your wallet and passport hidden. Russian people there and here, including my wife, will attest to all of this.

 

And gypsies and low-life’s in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and other big cities where teams in the Continental Hocky League are based would love to meet rich, young hockey players in back alleys, or in bars after the player has had a few drinks.

 

Maybe most importanly, and dangerously, there’s the Russian mafia, who have their dirty hands in every kiosk and shop, and under-the-table payments to these criminals by struggling shopkeepers is the norm. If a storeowner says no to them, chances are their shop is burned to the ground, or worse. And the police are often in cahoots with these people, and turn the other way.

 

Rich hockey players will be like gold to these people.

 

What will the NHL look like in a few years because of this new league? And will the Continental Hockey League eventually square off against the NHL for a different kind of playoffs and Stanley Cup?  

 

Is a new hockey world in its infancy?

 

And one last note: Aside from the mafia, the gypsies, the low-life’s, the dirt, etc., you must know that everyday, regular Russian people are some of the warmest, kindest, gentle folk you will find. They’ll give you the shirt of their back. They’re loving, family-oriented people, and have all kinds of values North Americans can learn from.

 

And maybe that’s why Russian hockey players want to go home. 

Game 2. Is It Going To Get Worse For The Pittsburgh Penguins?

Am I ever all glad I’m not a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. All the anticipation, all the confidence, and all the high expectations for Sidney Crosby, Marian Hossa, and Evgeny Malkin. Now, after two games, the Detroit Red Wings have won both games, both in shutouts, outscoring Pittsburgh 7-0 in the process. How much more dismal can it get for the Pittsburgh Penguins?       

Sidney Crosby has looked absolutely ordinary.

And Evgeny Malkin especially has so far been lousy at best, and it’s a bit of a flashback to another time. It took years for the Europeans to dispel the notion that they didn’t show up in the playoffs. Players came along like Pavel Bure, Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Ilya Kovalchuk who showed grit and soul in the playoffs.

Now, the Penguins and Malkin are, for some strange reason, in some sort of deep sleep. They’re boring, lacklustre, and outplayed.

Who would’ve thought? The Montreal Canadiens would’ve given the Red Wings much more a run for their money.

And regarding the Detroit Red Wings, they have seven players on their team from Sweden, and the core of these, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, Johna Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, and Tomas Holmstrom, are playing such a serious game of playoff hockey, that they’re all making Crosby, Malkin, Hossa and company look like the Ottawa Senators.

Wow!

This Detroit team is impressive indeed. Pavel Datsyuk, from Russia, is a magician, and the video shown often the past year of him coming in on a shootout and doing this wonderfully beautiful move stands out as as smooth a goal you’ll ever see.

Such an anticipated series between two colourful teams with a load of stars. But so far, it’s been completely one-sided. Most of us thought this was going to be a sensational series. So far, it’s anything but.

Am I ever glad I’m not a Penguins fan.