Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Are Russians Cancers?

1) Yes, we know we're going to get quite  abit of blow back from our admittedly provocative post title, but we will back up our assertion and discuss several recent examples where we believe teams might have been better off if they didn't have players from Russia on their rosters.   Ofcourse the biggest recent example is the Alex Radulov Andrei Kostitysyn situation in Nashville.  Evidently both players decided to go out and get drunk/cavort with strumpets at local bars. Disregarding team curfew rules.  When they were caught the team correctly decided to ban them for 1 game.  It was a supremely selfish decision.  Its not the first time either has had "issues" with a lack of maturity.  Both have had run ins with their former teams, or in the case of Radulov, left despite being under contract to play in the KHL. Many thought the gifted forward had matured and would give the Predators an added offensive element to go far in the Cup playoff, if not put them over the edge to attain the ultimate goal. However it now appears that the trade for Kostitysen and addition of Radulov may have ruined team chemistry(and morale!) and hurt their chances of winning.

3) Next stop Washington DC where the Capitals are winning (a series anyway) by significantly reducing their captain's (in name only) ice time. Alex Ovechkin because he is  a HUGE defensive liability has seen little ice time when his team is ahead in games.  Thus far publicly "The Great 8" hasn't whined/complained, but privately we're told that anyone who has been to DC's "Russia House" would know that Ovechkin is pissed about his reduced role.  Ultimately it will hurt the Caps as they progress in the playoffs and will undoubtedly come to a head when they lose and Hunter is retained as head coach.  With 9 more years at 10 million per left it will be interesting to see if the team continues to coddle their (former-?) superstar.  WE have also heard that Ovie called Caps top prospect Kuznetsov and urged him that he stay away from DC that it was no longer Russian friendly like it was 3-4 years ago when they had 5 regular Russians in the lineup

4) A slightly less noticeable issue is in NJ where the devils without their highest paid player Ilya Kolvachuk went out and played arguably their best playoff game this spring in defeating the Flyers 4-1. They didn't appear to miss the over paid winger and will be interesting to see how they fare when/if he returns.  There are several other instances/issues with respect to Russian born players but these couple are enough to hilight what our point is.

5) Now there are exceptions to every rule.  Specifically folks will point to Pavel Datsyk and Sergei Fedorov as examples of Russians who did not negatively impact their team, but we can say that although both were /are highly gifted, neither were "The guy" on their team. Feds had Yzerman and Pavel has Lidstrom and Zetterburg. By and large there are far more 'Yashins' than Fedorovs!  Several NHL officials we talked with recently did not want to go on record but unanimously hinted that there is a good reason why the population of Russians playing in the NHL is so low now.  The bloom is off the rose. The allure of the admited talent is not enough to overcome the immense baggage that players like Radulov, Ovechkin, Semin,  etc bring to their respective teams

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