Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Pavel Vorobiev says Blackhawks treat Russians like crap

A interview with Pavel Vorobiev appeared in Sport Express earlier today, in which Vorobiev was quoted as saying, "In America (the NHL) they don't like the Russians, and Chicago is worst of all."

Vorobiev signed with Khimik of the Russian Super League in late July, after scoring 21 points in 39 games for the Chicago Blackhawks last season.

Reuters provides this translation of the interview:

Chicago Blackhawks forward Pavel Vorobiev has accused his NHL club of bias against Russian players.

"In America, they don't like the Russians, often hate us, and Chicago is the worst club of all," the 24-year-old right wing was quoted as saying in Saturday's Sport-Express newspaper.

"When 11 Russian players showed up at Chicago's pre-season training camp last year, everyone there was in shock," he said.

"When I was leading the team in scoring at the start of last season it was irritating a lot of people in our club. They just couldn't take that a Russian would be the best. For Americans, such a thing would be absolutely unacceptable."

After spending three years in North America, Vorobiev decided to return to Russia, signing a one-year deal with Superleague club Khimik, although the Blackhawks still retain his NHL rights.

The Kazakhstan-born winger said he had a good relationship with head coach Trent Yawney but it didn't help his cause.

"He (Yawney) was under pressure from the management, and the general manager and team owners decide almost everything at the club," said Vorobiev.

"I was getting just five minutes of ice time on the fourth line and never had a chance to play on a powerplay," he added. "When our results went down, the coach started picking on the players. And of course, Vorobiev was always the worst culprit."

Vorobiev said he still hopes to play in the NHL: "I'm just hoping they (Chicago) will trade me to any other NHL team."

Here are some other statements made by Vorobiev in the Sport Express interview, which Reuters left out of their translation:

"I scored five points in four games, leading the team. Though this may sound strange, this started to cause friction, as if: can it be that our best player will be a Russian, and so young on top of that? This is not allowable by the Americans. Then in one game I didn't play very well, and all of the blame fell on me. There were four players in Chicago with two-way contracts, one Canadian, and so they made a decision which of us to send down to the minors after several losses-- of course, it was me.

"(In Chicago) they have had the same people in key positions for many years. Besides the owner and the general manager, there is one additional person whose opinion is very important. He's the one that hates Russians most of all. He shows this in the way he acts. When he went into the locker room, he was friendly with everyone except me and (Anton) Babchuck. He would greet Khabibulin, although he was the acknowledged leader of the team. For as long as this person and the owner of the team are there, nothing good awaits. The owner (Bill Wirtz) is himself already very old, and speaks and walks slowly. But he has a son, who is 40 years old. He has long asked for the father to let him take over the team, in order to make Chicago a better club again, capable of making the playoffs. However, the father, a multi-millionaire, is a terrible skinflint, who puts a stranglehold on every nickel."


Anonymous alanah said...

Vorobiev's Bill Wirtz comment is spot-on, but I'm surprised (and skeptical?) about the notion there is such a strong anti-Russian feeling in the NHL. Even in Chicago.

While I can certainly appreciate there is an anti-European sentiment throughout much of the league (and its fans), are Russians really given extra-special negative treatment?

I'm not saying it isn't true, as I don't really know. But my first impression -- when I consider discrimination in the NHL -- is to think of everyone but the Russians. The Swedes, for instance, take a lot of crap. The Russians, on the other hand, get at least grudging admiration and respect for their hockey legacy.

Don't they?

8/5/06, 5:40 PM

Blogger Brushback said...

Not having been in Vorobiev's shoes, it's tough to tell if he's really painting an accurate picture or not.

There could be a culture barrier here-- him not understanding others' behaviour, and them not understanding his-- which might've magnified the problem.

Russian players carry this tag of always being difficult to deal with, but they might be under the spotlight more, too. Imagine if Jeremy Roenick and Sean Avery were Russian. They're controversial because they're jerks, but if a Russian player is controversial, it's because he's Russian.

In any case, it doesn't sound like playing for the Blackhawks is any kind of picnic.

8/5/06, 8:35 PM

Anonymous pack attack said...

Perhaps Vorobiev is just not that good. I paid attention to him the 3 times I saw him play for Norfolk, last season, and once the season before.

Maybe it was the great Wolf*Pack teams but he did not seem to be anything special.

I'm starting to notice a theme around here -- bitchy Russians. ;)

8/6/06, 1:50 PM

Anonymous G12 said...

No Pack attack i see it as Premadonnaism rubbing off from their Canadian and American teachers aka the players.

8/6/06, 2:18 PM

Anonymous MikeP said...

Wasn't Mike "Never Saw A Russian I Didn't Like" Smith there for a while? Karpovstev for McCabe. Ouch. Long time ago, but the owner's the same even if the GM isn't.

8/6/06, 10:17 PM

Anonymous mrs. brushback said...

I wonder how fluent Vorobiev's English is. Could that be the reason a coach wouldn't speak to him?

I love the fact that despite his obvious disdain and paranoia regarding North America he is "willing" to come back and play for the NHL.

I can count a lot of American and Canadian players who are sent to the minors and feel bitter about it, too. We've also seen guys in the AHL score 5 points in 6 games and not receive a call up. Pavel's overinflated ego is getting in the way of his own success. Today's (wuss-ass) hockey in North America is fertile ground for Europeans, so he may be shooting himself in the foot.

8/7/06, 9:32 AM


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