Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Pass it to Putin!!

Much has been made this NHL season over the sporadic success of the NHL's Russian cadres, a group which is large on star potential, but, alas, at times short on finishing from all that star power.

Exhibits are currently being reviewed in Philadelphia, Nashville and perhaps even Washington, as the sons of Mother Russia, struggled or in some cases disappeared (literally it seems in Nashville)  as mercurial a group of players as the NHL has seen in a number of years.

The off and on nature of Russian success of course has some suggesting that the NHL has a Russian problem, though in reality it may be more along the lines of expectations exceeding results in most cases, no nefarious plot, no inherent quality to perform less than at full tilt. Just talent, that at times doesn't reach the anticipated level of success.

National Post-- Is there a stigma attached to Russian NHL prospects?
National Post-- The NHL's Russian problems
National Post-- Predators take a big chance by suspending Alexander Radulov and ...
Globe and Mail-- In defence of the Russians
Globe and Mail-- Radulov, Kostitsyn and the NHL's dwindling Russian influence
Ottawa Citizen-- NHL's Russian question moves front and centre
Hockey Night in Canada -- From Russia with not so much love
Sportsnet--  Bad image for Russians
NBC Sports-- Columnist says stigma of Russian players "far outweighs anyone else's baggage"

Still, it's been a puzzling first month of the playoffs, players that many anticipated would light up the scoreboards have struggled, while others who were dormant in the regular season suddenly have found their groove.

Regardless, we imagine that should opportunity arise, NHL teams will still take a flyer (hmm, perhaps  not the best descriptive at the moment) on those that hail from Vladivostok to Moscow, Minsk to St. Petersburg.

And hey, if the scouts are on their game, we wonder if someone is going to give a second look to a seasoned player, just coming into his own in Russia, a guy named Vladamir, who it seems captured the hearts of the crowd this weekend past.  Not to mention that he's a walking endorsement star for CCM if the pictures are any indication.

Newly elected President Vladimir Putin, (most recently known as Prime Minister, they seemingly do things differently in Russia) celebrated his electoral victory by taking to the ice with a number of Russian hockey stars and amateur players. 

And as we can see cheered on by his long time pals Silvio Berlusconi and Gerhard Schroder, Putin had regular shifts and surprise, surprise, even scored the winning goal for his collective of amateurs, an event which as we imagine the news release went, was greeted by large applause from the assembled masses.

National Post-- Vladimir Putin's team of amateurs manage to beat hockey legends
The Telegram--  Vladimir Putin beats professional ice hockey players
Russia Today-- Hockey legends no match for Putin's amateur team
Daily Mail-- Back to the day job: President Putin resumes role as Russia's premier hardman...

His style, rather unique by hockey standards, still had the desired results however, there was one aspect of his game that perhaps needs work. Putin, in the course of his inaugural exhibition match, came up a little short for a Gordie Howe hat trick.

One thing is certain though, clearly Ilya Bryzgalov isn't the only Russian goaltender who has bad days on the ice (though in the case of the Putin goals, perhaps wisely this was one of the better days for the goaltender in the video)

Clearly, in the President, here's a guy that might just help keep the Radulov's and Ovechkin's on the path to success, with Vlad (on your er, left wing?) we imagine all would go well and if not, well we won't consider the options...

Though, we do seem to remember another world leader who frequently trumpeted his success and prowess at his preferred sport and yet he never seemed to make the jump to pro.

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