Friday, July 24, 2009

Thank Goodness For The Russians

From the time they first aired Kovalev's discontent a few seasons ago, the Russian newspapers have been a trusty source of down-time material for Canadiens beat reporters and bloggers. Reliability apart, you have to hand it to the Russian reporters, they do talk to players and they do look for stories.

In the summer lull, with the Canadiens media crew taking a much-needed break, the reports form Russia these days offer a nice contrast to the old faithful stories – new material.

Sergei Kostitsyn

RDS reports on an interview that Sergei had with a Belarussian newspaper (uncited). While it's not much of a story (certainly not in its summary form). He talks about the media pressure in Montreal and about his late season demotion to the AHL. Apparently he thinks it has everything to do with his gambling buddy and nothing to do with his lazy line changes and 10-game slumps.

I'll try to track down the full thing, since Sergei is a great interview and is known for controversial and often funny quotes (Puck Daddy, CKAC and Japer's Rink)

Alexander Avtsyn

A great tip from Robert over at Habs Eyes on the Prize on this Andrei Avtsyn interview over at Russian Prospects.

He goes through a number of questions providing lots of interesting answers. This is not the fluff of what's on your ipod or who's your favourite Will Ferrell character stuff. I suggest a read if you have any interest in this player.

The best bit for me was about the Canadiens media training courses. Avtsyn (probably giving away more than he should) says this:
"We had a very interesting meeting about ties with journalists. They teach us how to work with the camera. And also that journalists usually ask the same questions (pause, sly [moan]) ... That it’s better to anticipate questions, never be ashamed, always smile and reply calmly. (smiles)"

Funny kid. Funny that he'd tell the journalist asking him the questions how he's been told to answer the questions. To be fair to the Russian journalist, he's no Renaud Lavoie – he digs for something interesting here.

Alexei Emelin

RDS dug around the Russian press again
for a story (uncited), which you may have all read. Once again, its a mere summary with a couple of quotes.

Apparently, our estranged prospect Alexei Emelin may not be as estranged as we thought. He says:
"Nous ne nous sommes pas entendus avec le Canadien sur les termes d’un nouveau contrat, affirme l’espoir du club Montréalais. Ils n’ont pas laissé tomber dans mon cas et nous gardons contact avec eux. J’espère toujours me faire une niche dans la Ligue nationale de hockey."

We didn't come to an agreement with the Canadiens on a contract, but they have not dropped me from their plans – we will still be in touch. I continue to hope that I will one day be able to make a place for myself in the NHL.

Good news for the organization, as you know burning bridges is never a good thing. And one never knows what injuries, trades and developments may happen to make a place for Emelin seem more feasible in the future.

Andrei Markov

Not from a Russian newspaper, but some Russian-related news.

Fan House's Adam Gretz (pseudonym or convenient name for a hockey writer?) is compiling a list of the top 50 players in the NHL based on play alone. He does add the disclaimer that it's all his own subjective take on things (something I can relate to loads). Anyway, he's up to #41 on the list and has already included the only Habs player, with Andrei Markov at #42.

One biased writer to another, I think he has it wrong. I watch Markov a lot and think it's unfair that he limits his praise:
"While he's prone to the occasional turnover at the wrong time, Markov is still more than capable in his own end, and one of the elite defensemen in the league when it comes to leading a power play and providing offense from the blue line."

For me he's one of the best defenders I've seen – not just capable. And show me one who isn't prone to an occasional error. I thought you'd be suitably incensed as well, so I brought it up.

Incidentally, before Four Habs Fans scooped up this story and made it their own, I was going to do a whole article on it. Suffice to say that I scanned NHL rosters and came up with about 19 players that I could definitively say were better than Markov at any position. I then classified a further 25 as his equal to marginally better/worse. So worst case scenario for me is that Markov is 45th, best case 20th. I feel the writer took the wrong bias. What about you guys? For example, is Markov not better than Corey Perry? Alexander Semin? Daniel Sedin? Martin Havlat?

The NHL seems to think he is at least better than all but 5 Russian players in the NHL, with the glaring question mark about Gonchar (and the relevance of defensive play) the only thing keeping him from #5.

Happy reading. Желаю хорошо провести выходные. (I hope that's right...)

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