May 1, 2012, 5:14 PM EST
His conclusion? They carry more bags than a bellhop.
You’ve got to admit though, the stigma that has grown on players from that country now far outweighs anyone else’s baggage.
Today, with the infusion of the KHL dilemma, the problematic innuendo extends to potential draft picks. On the same day that Radulov and Kostitsyn — we know, a Belarussian, not the same thing — were outed, Washington’s 26th overall draft pick in 2010, Evgeny Kuznetsov, announced he is set to sign a contract to spend two more years with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL.
Who knows what kind of player he’ll be when and if he finally gets to Washington?
Columbus had has its fun with high drafts Nikolai Zherdev (No. 4 in ’03) and Nikita Filatov (No. 6 in ’08). And now, the Edmonton Oilers may just pass along the Russian problem again, should they trade its No. 1 overall pick or choose a defenceman, leaving Nail Yakupov for Columbus GM Scott Howson at No. 2.
Even the established Russians are having a tough time in the NHL these days. Alexander Ovechkin’s ice time has plummeted. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov’s a flake. After a 50-goal season Evgeni Malkin managed just three goals in six games of an offence-palooza against Philadelphia in Round 1.
It’s an interesting angle to take (and controversial, based on the heat emanating from Sportsnet’s comments section) but I wonder if this “Russian stigma” is just a cyclical thing.
The NHL has gone through spells of both fascination and frustration with Russian players. It wasn’t long ago that the Hart Trophy finalists were all Russians (Ovechkin, Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk) — and it’s not like this year has been an outright disaster.
Are Ovechkin’s minutes down? Yes, but he still leads the team in scoring. Did Malkin have a bad first round? Sure, but he’s likely going to win the league’s MVP. Is Bryzgalov a flake? Probably, but he was a flake long before coming to Philly.
The NHL also figures to be high on Russians again, and very soon. Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko are two of the top prospects heading into the 2012 Draft while the Russian team has won gold and silver at the last two World Junior Championships, suggesting there’s more young talent to come.
- Report: Salary cap ‘may be around’ $70 million next season 13
- TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend 3
- Report: Laviolette a candidate to replace Capuano 19
- Sharks say Fleury was ‘shaky’ and ‘fighting it’ in 44-save victory 52
- Boychuk boarded by Pacioretty, taken off on stretcher (Update: has movement in extremities) 57
- Seguin (concussion) cleared to play tonight 0
- Bylsma: Sharks are NHL’s best, ‘with all due respect to Chicago’ 89
- Will the Rangers use a compliance buyout on Richards? 10
- Malkin (lower body) to miss tonight’s game versus Sharks 20
- Flyers’ Couturier: ‘We’re starting to believe in ourselves’ 60
- Bylsma: Sharks are NHL’s best, ‘with all due respect to Chicago’ (89)
- Flyers’ Couturier: ‘We’re starting to believe in ourselves’ (60)
- Boychuk boarded by Pacioretty, taken off on stretcher (Update: has movement in extremities) (57)
- Lehtonen shines, Roussel agitates as Stars beat ‘Hawks (53)
- Video: Canucks’ Bieksa fights Rangers’ Boyle, then kicks Boyle’s helmet (52)