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Mikhail Grigorenko wants to wear Alex Mogilny’s No. 89 in Buffalo

Jun 24, 2012, 8:56 PM EDT

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One Getty Images

In a first round where many teams loaded up on defense, the Buffalo Sabres grabbed two intriguing forward prospects in Zemgus Girgensons and Mikhail Grigorenko. With all due respect to “The Latvian Locomotive,” Grigorenko probably has the most potential to make a huge impact on the team. He also might make a solid first impression if his ode to a great former Buffalo Sabres forward works out, as Slava Malamud reports.

“Mikhail Grigorenko wants to know whether he can wear # 89 in Buffalo, in honor of his hometown hero Alex Mogilny.”

You don’t see enough No. 89’s in the NHL, really – especially guys who weren’t born in 1989.

Grigorenko isn’t just scoring nostalgic cool points, either. Many wonder about the depressingly oft-cited “Russian factor” with a guy like him.* Will a coach with a grating (OK, rough) style like Lindy Ruff’s rub him the wrong way? Grigorenko told Malamud that he’s OK with a rather “direct” approach.

“He’s a tough coach, but Roy wasn’t soft either,” Girgorenko said. “If a coach doesn’t demand a lot, he isn’t good coach.”

Last summer’s off-season splurge didn’t work as well as the Sabres hoped, but their recent youth movement is looking interesting. Grigorenko and Cody Hodgson are recent additions who might just be of the “blue chip” variety.

That being said, Grigorenko will need to produce some serious fireworks if he hopes to remind us of Mogilny in a more substantial way than wearing his number.

* Not just the transfer/KHL issues, but also the knee-jerk talk about “not caring.”

  1. kantnockdahustle89 - Jun 24, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    If Alexander is cool with it Id say do it. It isnt retired although his career in the NHL was an amazing one and with extreme circumstances. Mogilny risked his life to play for the Sabres…maybe they should retire his number?

  2. lostpuppysyndrome - Jun 24, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    You know, while I understand a lot of Russian players unfairly get the “Russian player” stigma, can you blame folks? It seems that Russian players seem to have the most severe hot-and-cold seasons or do well doing the regular season and disappear in the playoffs, particularly those who’ve had high expectations placed on them. I’m curious to know why that pattern seems to follow them more than Canadian, American, Swedish, Finnish, or any other country that’s represented in the NHL. “Not caring” can’t be the only answer, but when you see Ovechkin, Semin, and most recently Radulov seemingly or obviously exhibit a lack of effort, it makes you wonder, especially when the answers appear vague, if they’re given at all.

    • braddavery - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      Maybe go back and see how many Russian players have been on Stanley Cup winning teams to see that it really is just a misconception. You can’t take the play of a few and say “Hey, look, they are ALL like that!”

    • epsilon99 - Jun 25, 2012 at 7:21 PM

      Hot-and-cold seasons? Are you serious with it? Look at Getzlaf, Perry, Toews, Parise, Nash, Carter, Lecavallier, Spezza, Backstrom, Sedins, Thornton, Kessel etc etc Their stats and play is all over the place. Meanwhile Ovechkin still yet to be outproduced by any of his Swedish or Canadian teammates. Semin is probably the only unpredictable Russian but he is weak and injury prone.

  3. babykaby - Jun 25, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    Only someone completely oblivious would include Ovechkin on the “not caring” list.

    • govtminion - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      Or someone who’s watched him the past two seasons.

  4. zaksyuk - Jun 25, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    I am so sick of hearing about the KHL. That’s why i love datsyuk so much the guy isnt russian i swear lol. I just dont understand why there is an everlasting cold war between our 2 respective leagues. If these teams are so worried about it why dont they stop drafting russian players, GOD.

  5. elemeno89 - Jun 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    i think that the “russian factor” is segregated from player to player. i can think of a few players being “lazy”, one being Vanek when his career was first starting. it varies from payer to palyer and i think its unfair that Grigs (100% sure that’ll be the team nickname for him, haha) is facing these claims before he’s has even stepped on the ice for a game in the show.

    with that said, his attitude so far has been excellent. he sounds like a palyer that’s ready to begin the next step, ready to work for it, and ready to do whatever it takes to amke the team that selected him proud to have done so. very few times do you hear a player ready to commit right out of the gate and i’m ready to see what this kid has to offer. if upper management wants to retire mogilny’s number then that is set in stone, but if they aren’t then i would not have any problem letting this kid sport the sweater. Mogilny was one of the greats in Buffalo’s history, and paying hommage to a fellow Russian shows that Grigs is ready to try and become the next name associated with that number.

    for a good reason i hope.

    • chrisr9040 - Jun 25, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      Vanek is definitely Austrian, not Russian…

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