Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

You're Soaking In It


Clifton Mann and Ron Liberti of Pipe

Pipe are one of those bands that maybe the rest of the world didn't get around to appreciating as much as I thought they should've, but that's okay. Coming out of the prolific Chapel Hill, NC, scene of the 90's that saw them swapping members with Superchunk and Small 23 (among others), Pipe hammered out a legacy through their coupla handfuls of singles and albums-- including one of the greatest punk rock singles of all time (with a baseball picture sleeve and a Replacements cover on the flip; how can you beat that?)-- that's tough to overlook.

On the short list of bands (along with the New Bomb Turks, Kepone, etc) whose songs could be tight and well-crafted and still sound sloppy and punk rock at the same time, Pipe's most memorable attribute seems to be the paint-scraping vocals of Ron Liberti (see also: The Ghost of Rock). It isn't too hard to imagine these guys kicking up a hell of a racket live, something that I never got the chance to check out for myself, unfortunately (though I did get stuck seeing Polvo once, so figure that one out).

Anyway, here's a few from Pipe's first LP, 1994's 6 Days Till Bellus:



Bowling For Fuckers (listen)
Breakfast In Veronica (listen)
Glide
Captain Jack (Crunch) (listen)
El Camino (listen)
You're Soaking In It (listen)
New Chop
Broken Hips
All Eyes
Scabby
Andrews
Hammer God
The Metal Bus

Tracks have reverted to listen-only files

Friday, June 29, 2007

Semen Varlamov to remain in Russia another year


Semen Varlamov, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

Semen Varlamov was quoted today in Sport Express as having "received an invitation to play in North America"-- most likely, with the Washington Capitals' affiliate in either the ECHL or AHL-- and, despite that, is choosing to play in the Russian Super League with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl for one more year.

The 19-year-old Varlamov was drafted as the Capitals' first round pick (23rd overall) in 2006, and is generally regarded as the #1 Russian goaltending prospect, as well as the top rookie goaltender in the Russian Super League last season.

Boguniecki to Germany


Eric Boguniecki (Photo: Rich Stieglitz/BST)

Also, good news for Wolf Pack fans: Connecticut native Eric Boguniecki today signed a one-year deal to play in Germany next season with ERC Ingolstadt (click here for the announcement on the team web site; click here for an interview with Boguniecki from the team site , in German).

Boguniecki had 54 points (22g, 32a) in 48 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season, as well as appearing in 11 games (no points) with the NY Islanders.

His decision to go to Europe is hardly suprising, since Boguniecki forced his trade from the Syracuse Crunch (Columbus Blue Jackets) to the Islanders last October after claiming he was disenchanted with playing in the AHL.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

This Suit Is Black Not


Wichita Thunder (CHL) '06-'07 "Metal Blade" warmup jersey

From the "Garth, I was not aware of that" Dept.: Metal Blade Records is Central Hockey League sponsor, and the Wichita Thunder wear special "Metal Blade" jerseys during warm-ups (that's one pictured above, obviously).

Here are a few more goofy-looking hockey jerseys, some of which I found on my own, others that I found through forums that linked back to me along the way, like calgarypuck.com.



Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) alternate jersey


A few Amarillo Gorillas (CHL) jerseys from last season-- these photos are all by Jim Peak Photography:











Another one from the CHL:


Corpus Christi Rayz (CHL) '06 "Harley Davidson" jersey


And, an old NHL one, from the California Golden Seals-- this guy is mackin':



I've got one more, from the same guy who took the photo of the infamous Quad City Mallards Sherriff jersey. Since his web site has a big disclaimer on it, I'm just going to link to the photo here, but trust me-- it's worth seeing:

Quad City Mallards "Pirate" jersey

If the link ever goes bad, you can also see the jersey here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Darcy Verot signs with Vityaz


Darcy Verot

Former Syracuse Crunch (AHL) winger Darcy Verot has signed to play with Vityaz Chekhov of the Russian Super League, according to an announcement posted earlier today by Sport Express as well as the player roster listing on the Vityaz web site.

Verot, a veteran of 37 NHL games with the Washington Capitals in '03-'04, has spent the past three seasons in the AHL, most recently with the Syracuse Crunch, the Columbus Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate. In 68 games for Syracuse last season, Verot posted 23 points (9g, 14a) and 227 penalty minutes.

The same Sport Express article announces that Vityaz has re-signed former NHL'ers Oleg Kvasha and Alexander Korolyuk.


Andrei Nazarov

In somewhat less exciting transaction news: in an interview with the Russian site Sport Daily, Traktor Chelyabinsk head coach Andrei Nazarov announced that the team had signed defenseman Nikita Korovokin, a former Philadelphia Flyers draft pick (6th round, '02) who split last season between the Phoenix Roadrunners and the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL.

Failure To Thrive


Fedor Fedorov hobbles off

Everyones's favorite ex-Hartford Wolf Pack/New York Rangers forward, Fedor Fedorov, has made his way back from his Swedish hiatus and is returning to the Russian Super League to play for Dynamo Moscow this season, in a transaction that I inexplicably overlooked from about a month ago.

Still having a keen eye for these things on occasion, I did notice a couple of weeks ago that Dynamo posted a nice birthday greeting on their web site, to mark Fedor's 26th birthday on June 11th. Cute (or pretty fey, actually), but I didn't take it as meaning that he'd actually signed with Dynamo or anything.

Then, only today, I saw that Fedorov is now listed on Dynamo's roster page. Alerted, I quickly tracked down the lone Russian article (on kommersant.ru) that had the barest of mentions of Fedor's return to Moscow (and a pretty neat picture of Alexei Cherepanov, to boot-- thanks!), as well as the month-old listing on Eurohockey.net that I had failed to notice the first time through:


In any case, Fedorov enjoyed a moderate amount of success while in Sweden, posting 20 points (6g, 14a) in 18 games-- as well as a combined +5 and 106 penalty minutes-- for Malmö between the regular season and the HockeyAllsvenskan (Sweden's post-season relegation tournament). This is according to Fedor's player profile on Eurohockey.net, one of the only profile pages I've seen that actually has a sponsor-- BeKingOfPoker.com.

I probably should've had Sidearm Delivery sponsor his page when I still had the chance, but, you know, ten bucks is ten bucks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Khimik offers Peter Bondra a contract


Peter Bondra (#12)

In what is being billed by the Russian media as a possible "farewell tour" for the faded Slovak superstar, the Russian site Чемпионат.ру, citing "Slovak sources", announced earlier today that Russian Super League team Khimik Mytische (Moscow region) has offered Peter Bondra a one-year contract. The story has since been picked up by allhockey.ru and football-hockey.ru.

Born in Ukraine, U.S.S.R., but a Slovak in heritage and in citizenship, the 39-year-old Bondra played in 37 games for the Chicago Blackhawks this past season, collecting 14 points (5g, 9a). A nine-time 30-goal scorer with the Washington Capitals, Bondra has scored 503 goals in his 17-year NHL career.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Phoenix wanted Rangers' second round pick


Rangers head amateur scout Gordie Clark

Slava Malamud, the U.S. correspondent for Sport Express, filed this report from the 2007 NHL Entry Draft:

The Rangers really wanted to take Alexei Cherepanov earlier in the round, by trading up for one of the first five picks. Phoenix was a possibility, but the Coyotes wanted the Rangers' second round pick, which the Rangers couldn't agree to-- they have too old a team to be squandering picks.

Malamud then relayed these comments from the New York Rangers head of amateur scouting, Gordie Clark, responding to reporters minutes after the Rangers selected Cherepanov:

"When we couldn't trade up to a higher spot, we started to examine our other options. This draft was rich with defenseman, but we wanted to take a forward. It's my job to look into the future, in the post-Jagr era, and we need to replace our aging stars.

"I'm not considering that Cherepanov will be able to replace Jagr, just that Jagr and Straka won't last forever, and they will stop playing soon. And, we should be ready for this. Our first two forward lines are based on these players, so we need to find players with the potential to play on the first and second lines, which is precisely what Cherepanov is.

"My point of view was that we weren't afraid of the absence of an agreement with Russia, and that was the point of view of my boss, also. Glen Sather only asked me what I thought of his hockey talents, and wasn't interested in the relationship with Russia. Sooner or later we will have to address this, but this player has special talent. We don't have any forwards on this level in our youth system.

Sport Express photo

"He played in all of the international tournaments, and scored more decisive goals in the important games than any other player in my memory prior to the draft. The winning goal against Team USA in Switzerland, which saved his team from elimination... again, this is a special player.

"Some of the other NHL teams perhaps made up a different opinion of him based on the pre-draft interviews in Toronto, but we had interviewd him long before that, and always considered him to be a smart player, with a sincere desire to play in the best league in the world.

"We didn't even think about his two-year contract with Avangard. I think he can be in the NHL in a year. He already plays against adults, and not just sitting at the end of the bench picking his teeth-- he broke the rookie scoring record of Pavel Bure! Yes, he doesn't have Pavel's speed, but he is ready to play the game as best he could. It doesn't bother us that he wants to play one more season in Russia-- the Super League is an outstanding league, not a 'beer league'. He will continue to progress there.

"I would compare him to Frolov of Los Angeles. Cherepanov is an exceptional talent, like Ovechkin and Malkin, though certainly not at their level as a sniper and a leader. Nevertheless, I am sure he will play well here.

"My philosophy since the lock-out is to take the natural talents as much as possible. Not all of them will come through, we know this, but now you cannot get by without the technical (skill) and speed players."

Cherepanov: My contract will not keep me from playing in the NHL


Alexei Cherepanov

Here's a post-draft interview with Alexei Cherepanov that was sent in from Columbus by Slava Malamud, the U.S. correspondent for Sport Express, and posted on the Sport Express web site earlier today (a somewhat-convenient English version can be found here):

Cherepanov starts off by saying, "I was happy that the Rangers drafted me. They were the team that gave me the most attention, and I had a very productive interview with them (at the pre-draft testing). I even said to my agent that if I couldn't be picked first or second, then hopefully I'll be the 17th."

The New York reporters will be on your heels, analyzing your every move.

I've already been through that today. Obviously, the interest of the press is very high, and there's been a lot of discussion-- which is a good thing.

The Rangers are projecting you for the first or second line, after Jagr and Straka retire. Do their expectations make you nervous?

No, I will do the best I can.

I saw Jagr play when he was in Omsk, and I am happy for the chance to play on the same team with him. It's only recently that I started to root for the Rangers, though; before that, Colorado was the team that I liked the most.

You've made up your mind to join the NHL in 2008?

When I'm ready, I'll be there.

Many say that you are ready now.

In a year, I'll be even better. I'll be even better if I come in as one of the leading players in the Russian Super League.

How are you with English?

That hasn't a problem so far. I will look for a tutor in Omsk.

Is there a possibility that in the end you will say, 'What is the NHL to me? I'm doing fine in Omsk, perhaps it's better for me to play at home?'

No, it's more desirable for me to play here. It is important that I prove myself in the best league, against the best players.

What if you could make more money in the Super League?

I'm not thinking about the money. The important thing is to play against the best.

What if you go over there and they send you to the farm club?

If that's beneficial to me, then I will go there. Why stand in place? I want to play wherever the level is higher, that to me is better.

What happens in another year when, still under contract, you tell the management of Avangard that you're leaving?

I hope that they understand, and let me go.

And if they say, 'Alexei, give us another year, or at least we must get compensation"?

I'm sure that's what they'll say, but I'm also pretty sure I'll be able to convince them. Once I'm ready for the NHL, no contract is going to stop me. In no way do I want to be held back by the team. I hope that by then everything will fall into place.

How will you know when you'll be ready for the NHL?

If I make the Russian first team, that will be a good indication.


Cherepanov (#7) playing for Avangard against Dynamo

Today's Sport Express also quotes Ilya Moliver, who works with Jay Grossman as one of Cherepanov's Russian agents, as saying about the way that Cherepanov tumbled in the draft: "Los Angeles angered me most of all-- (GM Dean) Lombardi, who we've worked with before. They had all sorts of praise for Alexei, and they take someone else? This to me is incomprehensible. The same with Boston. We had several interviews with them. They said Alexei was an ideal hockey player, and how they'd love to have him on their team. Then, oh well, sorry! But it all worked out in the end."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Anisimov to attend Rangers Prospect Camp


Artem Anisimov (#12), Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

Since I'm pretty sure that the person who asked about Artem Anisimov the other day doesn't read a filthy rag like the New York Post, I'm going to pass along what Crazy Uncle Larry wrote today:

Tom Renney will not only get his first look on the ice Tuesday morning at Alexei Cherepanov, but the Russian first-round selection will be joined at the Rangers' prospect camp by countryman Artem Anisimov, last year's second-round pick whom the club is close to signing to a contract.

Cherepanov, who visited Brighton Beach yesterday, and Anisimov, a two-way center who turned 19 last month after completing his second season with Yaroslavl of the Russian Super League and whom the Rangers hope to bring to North America this season, will be among a select group of prospects who will report tonight, undergo physicals tomorrow, and skate at the Blueshirts' training facility from Tuesday through Friday.

Anisimov didn't put up huge numbers for Lokomotiv this past season (11 points in 49 regular-season games), but he fared much better when it counted most in the two playoff rounds against Dynamo and Avangard (3 goals and 2 assists in 7 games), plus he was only 18 years old.

There isn't much out there as far as Russian Super League video of Anisimov, but I recently downloaded this clip of a goal he scored against Avangard this past January:



Alexei Kudashov, who played in 25 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs years ago, gets the nice assist that sets up the goal.

Waiting On The Guns


The Rock Cats' Matt Moses (7) and Luke Hughes (20) warming up

If you're borderline anti-social (like me most of the time) and the standing-room-only crowds that pack New Britain Stadium on the weekends aren't your thing, the next best option for catching the Rock Cats is to drive another 30 miles to the east, when they play the Defenders in Norwich.

The Rock Cats' 5-4 win over the Defenders on Saturday night took 12 innings, but with the nighttime temperatures dipping into the 50's and the game time pushing 3-1/2 hours, I didn't bother to hang around past the 10th. A three-run homer from Pat Dobson helped the Defenders build a 4-0 lead in the second inning, but New Britain came back with three in the eighth to tie it at 4-4.

The Defenders had a solid chance to end the game in the bottom of the ninth, putting runners on second and third with two outs. But banjo-hitting second baseman Trey Webb (.211, 8 RBI in 48 games, though he hit a little bit better in Single-A for Potomac the year before) grounded out, and the game went into extra innings. Garret Guzman then singled home the winning run for the Rock Cats in the top of the 12th.


Sgt. Slaughter's turnin' green,
Someone pissed in his canteen

A crowd of 6,028 stuffed the seats on Saturday, no doubt in part due to an appearance by the WWF's Sgt. Slaughter, who was charging five bucks an autograph, or so I heard; I think he should be giving five bucks to anyone who can still remember his name. Last night's game marked the first time Dodd Stadium had seen three straight crowds of 5000 or more since about seven seasons ago.

Third baseman Matt Moses, the Twins' first round pick in 2003, went 0-for-5 in his second game back with the Rock Cats since being sent down from the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings a couple of days earlier.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rangers steal Alexei Cherepanov


Alexei Cherepanov

By him sliding all the way down to the bottom half of the first round-- most likely because of transfer agreement issues-- the Rangers were able to make Alexei Cherepanov, the #1-ranked European skater, their top pick at last night's NHL Entry Draft.

Rangers GM Glen Sather is said to have attempted two draft-day trades to try to move up and secure Cherepanov, after making four separate trips to Russia to specifically scout him.

Cherepanov's Russian agent says that Cherepanov will stay to play in Russia with Avangard Omsk for two more years; Cherepanov's North American agent, Jay Grossman, says one more year, in what amounts to an argument over which lawyer gets to cash the checks.

Cherepanov himself told NHL.com that he'd like to play in Russia for at least one more year:

"I like physical play. I'm not afraid of it. But I might not be mature enough physically right now to play in the NHL. I think that if I play one more year in the Russian Super League I will be ready the next year for the NHL."

Cherepanov, born 1/15/89, won't leave his teens until midway through the 2008-09 season.

By the grace of the newly re-designed packattack.org, here's the Rangers making Cherepanov their pick:

Labels:

Friday, June 22, 2007

NHLPA backs Russia on transfer agreement



The NHL Players Association is siding with Russia in opposing the 2007-08 transfer agreement between the NHL and IIHF, according to an announcement posted today on the official Russian Hockey Federation web site.

The 2006-07 transfer agreement, which has lapsed, provided that any European team must let any of their players go to the NHL at any time for a return fee of $200,000.

The 2007-08 agreement has the support of all of the European federations (save for Russia, which has refused to sign off on the agreement since the 2005-06 season), but the NHL cannot sign off on the agreement without the support of the NHLPA.

The NHLPA's stated reason for not signing is that the agreement "is not in the best interests of the players of the NHL." Negotiations for a new agreement, which would have to be resubmitted to the European federations, are on-going.

A.Y. Movin' Out?


Yashin (Lokomotiv) and Jagr (Avangard) during '04-'05 season

In what could be a sign of good news to come for hockey fans throughout North America, the Russian site Sports Daily (all the way at the bottom of this article here) is alleging that Alexei Yashin's girlfriend, Carol Alt, has bought a house in Hamburg, Germany.

The Hamburg Freezers of the DEL (German league) are said to be one of the teams bidding for Yashin's services, having reportedly offered Yashin a three-year, $7 million deal.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mallards Ain't Shittin'


Beware the enraged Mallards catcher and his lethal bat-thingy

The hard-workin' folk(s) at Ballpark Digest recently drew my attention to the web site of the Madison Mallards, a team that plays in the Northwoods League, which is a wooden bat summer league for college players (much like the NECBL and Cape Cod League that we have in New England).

The Mallards are only a .500 ballclub on the field so far this season, but they come out looking like champs in the promotions department. Check out the "Ducks Unlimited" jersey that catcher Jordan Wolf is wearing, above; while most teams are wearing sissy-looking pink jerseys and giving away little souvenir bats and other tacky crap, the Mallards are wearing combat camo and giving away freakin' double-barreled Winchesters!* Top that, Connecticut Defenders!


Mallards Hockey Night jersey

And unlike one team I could mention, it looks like the Mallards did their "Hockey Night" promotion the right way, including a fairly sharp hockey-type jersey that the players wore on the field and which apparently right after the game were donated to the Frolunda Indians.


Among the other bits and pieces you'll find on the web site-- such as video downloads of game highlights and the semi-rockin' (in a gay John Fogerty "Centerfield"-kinda way) "Go Go Mallards" theme song-- are some 30-second radio spots. A couple of them could pass for amusing, so I'll post them here:

Mallards "Bike Shorts" radio commercial

Mallards "Bass Fishing" radio commercial

Ballpark Digest has already posted a couple of Mallards TV commercials (here and here)-- basically about how baseball is the national pasttime instead of opera and stamp collecting, voiced by Morgan Freeman** no less-- so I'll offer this clip from my own YouTube account, a 2007 promotional video.



That "Go Go Mallards" theme song might be kinda corny, but at least it's not as bad as this:

The Hold Steady, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"

(I know I've posted this song as a punchline before, but since no angry mobs have come after me with knives lately, it must've not worked. So I'm posting it again.)

*not really
**apparently this is wrong also

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blackhawks' St. Pierre signs with Khimik


Martin St. Pierre

Chicago Blackhawks/Norfolk Admirals center Martin St. Pierre, a two-time AHL All-Star, has signed to play with Khimik Mytische of the Russian Super League, as announced today on the Khimik team web site (assist to Sport Express, which incorrectly lists the Ontario-born St. Pierre as being 33 years old-- ten years older than his actual age. Perhaps they meant 33 inches tall).

St. Pierre notched four points (1g, 3a) and 8 penalty minutes in 14 games with the Blackhawks last season. He finished second overall in the AHL in scoring last season, with 99 points (27g, 72a) in 65 games.

Alexander Svitov would go back to Russia


Alexander Svitov (#15) with Avangard

Columbus Blue Jackets free-agent forward Alexander Svitov, who played in the Russian Super League for Avangard Omsk in '05-'06 before signing a one-year deal with Columbus last year, tells allhockey.ru that a return to Russia is not out of the question:

"I do have some desire to play in Russia, though it's not something that I'm planning for at the moment. No teams from the Super League have offered a specific proposal yet, and we have not been in contact with the management of Avangard about this. My agent is not yet finished negotiating with Columbus. I'm not against the thought of playing for Avangard, though."

As an added bonus, here's a video from my YouTube account (the original file of which I'd linked to last year) of the 6'-4", 220-lb. Svitov getting leg-whipped in a game for Avangard a year-and-a-half ago:



Of such things fond memories are made, I guess.

UPDATE 8/17/07 -Avangard announced today that they have signed Svitov to a three-year deal.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Agent: Cherepanov will play in Omsk for two more years


Alexei Cherepanov (#7, in white)

Sergey Paremuzov-- the president of Global Sports Consulting who is also Alexei Cherepanov's Russian agent-- says, "No matter where Cherepanov is drafted, he will spend two more years in the Russian Super League with Omsk", according to an interview with Paremuzov that was posted a few hours ago by Sport Express.

Regarding Cherepanov's relationship with his Russian team, Avangard Omsk, Paremuzov said, "Of course, Alexei is going to continue his career in North America, and the president of Avangard, Constantine Potapov, completely understands this. But the contractural obligations which tie Alexei to Avangard for the next two years will undoubtedly be carried out. The agreement has already been formulated, and is not subject to revision."

About the first two teams to pick in this year's draft, Chicago and Philadelphia, Paremuzov said, "There's no reason to deny that those two teams are not the most appropriate teams for Alexei's style of play. The Coyotes and the Oilers (the next two teams to pick) are better options."

Paremuzov was then asked if he would prefer Cherepanov not be drafted first by the Blackhawks, because of the poor reputation that the team's ownership has. He replied, "Those are details that we haven't discussed with Alexei; but, if a player doesn't want to sign a contract with a team, he won't sign it. And no one can force him to. You'll recall the well-known incident with Lindros, whom Quebec eventually traded to Philadelphia. We will face these problems as they arise."

Cherepanov Baffles Scouts


Alexei Cherepanov

From today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Describing Russian hockey players as enigmatic has become a cliche and might say more about how little most North Americans understand them than it does about the Russians themselves.

But Alexei Cherepanov, by far the top European prospect in this weekend's NHL entry draft, really does seem to embody the concept.

Some scouts look at Cherepanov, a right winger, and see a good skater with a nice goal-scoring touch and the potential to be an impact player in the NHL. Others see an underachiever who is prone to losing his focus, has no interest in playing defense and suffers from something akin to an attitude pointer.

Both perspectives are rooted in reality.

Jarmo Kekalainen, director of amateur scouting for St. Louis, has watched Cherepanov play numerous times in a variety of settings and offers this assessment: "He's a very talented player, with a lot of skill and ability to put the puck in the net and create offense."

Goran Stubb, who heads NHL Central Scouting's operations in Europe, volunteered that "people say he has an attitude problem," and, even though he was noncommittal on that issue, agreed that Cherepanov has a tendency to lose interest if he's not impressed by the quality of the opposition.

"The funny thing about Cherepanov is that he always plays better when he's playing with older guys," Stubb said. "He had an excellent season in the Russian Super League, and at the [under-20] World Juniors, he played as a 17-year-old and had an absolutely fantastic tournament, except for the final game.

"Then again, when he plays with his own age group, he didn't do very well in a tournament in February, and he didn't do all that well at the under-18 World Juniors, either."

Phoenix general manager Don Maloney, whose team has the third choice in the opening round, made a similar observation.

"He actually played better in the Super League a lot of the time," Maloney said. "It's interesting.

"A young player like that who plays up with men and plays well, sometimes comes back to his own age group and, I don't want to say he's bored, but maybe he eases off on the gas pedal a little bit and looks a little bit nonchalant at times. But talent is talent, and he has an abundance of it."

Cherepanov proved that by putting up 18 goals and 11 assists in 46 games with Omsk in the Super League in the 2006-07 season; his 29 points as a rookie were more than Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin or Ilya Kovalchuk got their first year there.

Cherepanov can work on upgrading his strength, and even can try to convince team executives that concerns about his attitude are unfounded, but one factor he can't control could have a major impact on when he is drafted: Russia's refusal to accept the transfer agreement negotiated by the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Atlanta general manager Don Waddell allowed that "it's on everybody's mind," but added that he isn't convinced it will hurt Cherepanov much.

"The way we look at it ... when we're getting ready to pick -- if it's 1A and 1B, we may go to 1B and stay away from a Russian prospect," Waddell said. "But if he's clearly the best player, we would take him and say, 'We have a few years to work this out.' "

UPDATE 6/20/07 - NHL.com put up a good article today about Cherepanov, in which Cherepanov tells a bit about himself in his own words. Within the scouting reports in article's sidebar is a link to a 5 minute "scouting video" that appears to be a chunk of a game between Russia and Switzerland at the U-20 World Juniors, presented without play-by-play or commentary.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Alexei Emelin spurns Canadiens for Ak Bars


Alexei Emelin

Alexei Emelin, a member of Team Russia at the '07 World Championships and the Montreal Canadiens' third-round draft pick in '04, has turned down a contract offer from the Canadiens to sign a two-year deal with Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Super League, as announced earlier today on the Ak Bars web site, as well as by Soviet Sport.

The Soviet Sport article quotes the 21-year-old defenseman as saying that by the time the Canadiens had offered him a contract, he already had an agreement in place with Ak Bars, and that the negotiations with Ak Bars had been on-going since prior to the World Championships (in late May). When asked if his contract with Ak Bars included an out clause if he were to sign an NHL deal, Emelin either seemed unaware of such a provision, or refused to discuss it, saying, "I play for Ak Bars now, and I will only think about this team."


Vasily Koshechkin

Within the same announcement as for the Emelin signing, Ak Bars also announced that they have signed Lada goaltender Vasily Koshechkin. Less than a month ago, the 6'-6" Koshechkin said that was planning to attend the Tampa Bay Lightning training camp, with the hopes of being signed by the Lightning.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bruins: Zinovjev Not Worth Asking Price


Ak Bars' Sergei Zinovjev (#42)

From today's Worcester Telegram & Gazette, about the Bruins' on-going flirtation with Russian superstar Sergei Zinovjev:

The Bruins still own the NHL rights to the 27-year-old center, who has become a bona fide star for Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Super League, and just finished playing a starring role in Russia’s bronze-medal finish at the World Championships.

A third-round pick by Boston in the 2000 draft, Zinovjev now rakes in a cool tax-free $2.5 million in a country where the average schmuck earns about 50 bucks (U.S.) a week. According to Zinovjev’s North American agent, Rollie Hedges, that salary works out to roughly $5 million a year over here.

So, the questions are threefold: (a) Can the Bruins afford him? (b) Is Zinovjev worth that kind of money? And, the biggie: (c) Can the 27-year-old forward be persuaded to leave his native country and return to the NHL, which he left with a bitter taste in his mouth back in 2003, shortly after the Bruins signed him to a two-year contract?

The answers, according to Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, are no, no, and probably no.

"He can play in the NHL," Chiarelli added, "but circumstances dictate that he probably won’t."

At least not now, because even Chiarelli — a lawyer who rarely rules out anything — insists that Zinovjev, despite his rock-star status in Russia, isn’t worth $5 million in the NHL right now.

"No, he’s not, because he’s unproven," Chiarelli said. "He’s proven himself over there and makes a lot of money, but he’s unproven over here."

Assuming they can’t sign Zinovjev, the Bruins still would like to get something in return before their NHL rights to him expire on July 1, 2008. That could mean packaging the rights with an established player — goalie Hannu Toivonen comes to mind, especially if the B’s are as certain as everyone else about the bright future of 20-year-old Finnish sensation Tuukka Rask — and get a proven NHL talent in return from a rival team.

Or, they could take the rights to Zinovjev, add their No. 8 pick in Friday’s NHL Draft, and move up to one of the top three spots and get a sure-fire contributor to add to their ever-growing stable of impressive youngsters. As it stands now, Chicago, Philadelphia and Phoenix own picks No. 1, 2 and 3.

Chiarelli said, "In addition to talking to Rollie Hedges, we’ve talked to every team in the NHL. There has been some interest at some level, but his salary in Russia is a deterrent."


NHL scouts who have seen a lot of Zinovjev think he could step in and be the third-line center for the Bruins right now, behind Marc Savard and Patrice Bergergon. And that’s as a relatively raw commodity.

If, as expected, he grows in size, strength and ability during his interaction with the NHL’s best players, who knows how good he could become?

Unfortunately, in terms of popularity right now in Russia, he’s a 21st-century Yuri Gagarin. And he doesn’t sound like he plans to leave orbit anytime soon.

The Bruins don’t have a lot of time to make a decision here. Russian teams begin their training camps on July 1, according to Hedges, and are making preparations even as this column is being written. Something would have to happen in a matter of days, perhaps even hours, and given the gulf between Zinovjev’s Russian salary and what he’d be offered in North America, that’s way too much territory to cover in that short a time.

Click here to read the rest of the article, which goes into a good amount of detail about Zinovjev's stint with the Bruins from a few years back, both in Boston and in Providence (Zinovjev: "There may be only five or six players in the AHL capable of making a good pass"), as well as his history of marijuana troubles.

Cherepanov: I Love LA (NY, Too)


Alexei Cherepanov

Although he won't really have much of a choice as to where he ends up after the NHL Entry Draft on June 22nd, in an interview with the Russian site Чемпионат.ру, 18-year-old hotshot prospect Alexei Cherepanov said that the Kings and the Rangers made the best impression on him during his recent trip to Toronto for pre-draft testing:

"The first three days were interviews, then a day of testing, and then more inteviews", said Cherepanov. "There were two kinds of tests: the first, phychological, where we sat at the computer and answered questions. The second tests were for checking physical fitness.

"The interviews were with 20 teams, five per day. Each interview was 20 minutes. They'd ask about literally everything in the world-- your life, your parents, certainly about hockey... in great detail. 'Why did you play well at one tournament, but worse at another?' 'Which is your best side?' 'Do you prefer to score, or to set up with a pass?' 'How do you think you can help our team?' And so on.

"I would ask questions, too, like how do they relate to the young players on their team. All of them had the same answer-- 'just fine'.

"It might cost me later, if I were to say now where I would like to play, and where I wouldn't. I will say that, for who I talked to, the best was with the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings."



Cherepanov, with Omsk last season

Meanwhile, Crazy Uncle Larry in the NY Post is floating the rumor that the Rangers may trade up to the third spot with old pal Don Maloney and the Phoenix Coyotes, in order to get Cherepanov.

Of course, that Cherepanov may fall in the draft anyway-- because of the lack of a player transfer agreement in place between Russia and the NHL-- is a real possibility.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Denis Grebeshkov Vowing To Play Nice


Denis Grebeshkov

A year ago, seemingly no longer willing to play in the AHL, then 22-year-old Russian defenseman Denis Grebeshkov turned down the New York Islanders' qualifying offer in 2006 and headed to his native Yaroslavl to play for Lokomotiv in the Russian Super League.

Now armed with a new one-way contract from the Edmonton Oilers, the soft-spoken, offensively-gifted Grebeshkov is saying that he wants to build on his past experiences in North America with his mind set on succeeding in the NHL this time, in an interview that was posted yesterday by the Russian site Sports Daily.

You're planning to make your career in Edmonton?
Those are my thoughts, yes.

Are you bringing any family with you?
Well, since I'm not married, I have no family to bring with me. (When Alexei Mikhnov tried to make the Oilers in training camp last season, he brought his wife with him to help adjust to life in a new country.)

What have you seen about your new team?
As far as I know, the team has been nothing special in recent years-- the days when Edmonton had players like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, defeating all others-- are long gone. Now, they're a fairly average NHL team.

How have you learned about your new club?
Last year, I played on Lokomotiv with (former Oilers) Igor Ulanov and Alexei Mikhnov. They told me about the city, and about the team. Judging from that, Edmonton is a good working town, with a lot of oil industry workers. The winters are cold, with the snow not leaving until May, but the team is good. The people who work with the team are very friendly, and the ice in Edmonton is said to be the best ice in the NHL.

To be honest, (for Russian players) it's not very desirable to live in America. They only go there to play hockey. There's a completely different mentality. Although, in general, Americans are very decent and helpful, perhaps because life has been easier on them.

When you first left to try the NHL, the best league in the world, you were young-- only 19 years old. Apparently it wasn't easy for you.
Like many, I ran into a language barrier. I couldn't understand what I was being told. Only after a year was I able to answer clearly. However, the other players were very supportive. There was one Frenchman, especially, with whose help I rented an apartment.

As far as a way of life is concerned, there weren't any major problems. Certainly, though, it was impossible to avoid making mistakes. For example, when I first came to America, I figured that the NHL teams would prepare for the season just like in Russia: after you arrive in camp, you train gradually, and slowly bring yourself up. It turns out that, for NHL training camp, you're supposed to arrive completely prepared. I didn't know this, so I missed out on that. Now, I will show up and be ready immediately to show my best.

A lot of young Russian players, upon arriving in the NHL, return home quickly. Why is that?
Probably, there's an unwillingness to play for the farm team. But I don't see anything terrible about this. For me to play in the minors was for my own good. Last season I could've willingly played on the farm team, but I made the decision to play instead in the Super League.

Russian players are often criticized for not playing within the team.
I think that all players can get caught up in the individual game, regardless of nationality. There isn't a player who as a youngster didn't dream of taking the puck and rushing to the net, skating through all the other players. On the other hand, Russian players are well-known for being good passers.

So then, all the talk that Russian defenseman in the NHL play without hard contact, is that mostly false?
This problem does exist. Russian defenseman are more technical, thinking defenseman. However, in my case, I also enjoy playing with strength.

And what about fighting?
Not my style. I've never had a reason to drop the gloves in the NHL, but the rugged play and the hard checks, that's what I want to see.

The new rules, which are very strict, are not to your liking?
The new rules aren't good for our type of hockey. We saw this at the World Championships.

In the semi-final match with Finland, when they were mowing down our players as if by machine gun (sending off Andrei Markov), is it worthwhile to respond in kind-- to take out a couple of the key players on Finland's team?
There may have been thoughts, but you have to chase them away. It's important to send a message, of course, but it must be done within the rules, in order to not be penalized. To take your stick against someone's head has no benefit. I think that injuring another player is low. This would not have helped us in the game against Finland, anyway. We still didn't beat them.


Winding up for a slap shot vs. Dynamo

In the post-script to the interview, the writer for Sports Daily floats a couple of interesting rumors. In discussing Grebeshkov's past history in North America (going back-and-forth between the NHL and the minors) and his current contract with Edmonton, which is said to be a one-way, NHL-only deal, the writer adds: "This is the opposite case for Kiril Koltsov, Grebeshkov's teammate on numerous Russian junior national teams. Vancouver offered a million dollars and an NHL roster spot, but Ufa (Salavat Yulayev) gave him twice as much. So, America can forget about Koltsov, at least for one more season.

"The same decision is also involved with Ilya Nikulin, who will try in Atlanta, but does not intend to be sent to the farm club. If he isn't sucessful overseas, he will return to Russia, most likely with Kazan or Ufa."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fedor Tyutin interview in SportsDaily.ru


#51 Fedor Tyutin

The other day, the ever-diligent Blueshirt Bulletin pointed out a Fedor Tyutin interview that appeared on hokej.cz, although they declined to pass along a translation, saying that sometimes it's just not worth all the nit-picking that it invites.

In any case, Hokej.cz actually picked up the Tyutin article from its original Russian source, sportsdaily.ru. Since I'm not above posting nit-pick-worthy translations of Russian hockey articles-- especially when they involve former Wolf Pack players (and one of my favorite Rangers players, to boot)-- I figured I'd throw this one up, too, in-depth or not.

"...The next season will be Tyutin's fourth in the NHL. A call from our reporter found Fedor with his parents in Izhevsk (Tyutin's home town), where Tyutin was playing football and spending time with his friends-- in other words, resting up from work. Towards the end of the summer, he plans to visit the city on the Neva (St. Petersburg, where Tyutin began his pro career)."

Why weren't you able to get to the World Championships, even though you would've been on time for the decisive games?
Because of my knee, which I injured back in March. Then, in the fifth game against Buffalo, I took a hit on that same knee.

Since you're playing football now, does that mean your knee is no longer bothering you?
Yes, it's fine.

Did you talk to (Team Russia coach) Vyacheslav Bykov before the game against the Czechs?
Yes. He left me a message, and then we talked, and I explained everything to him. It seemed like he understood.

Whenever a player refuses to join the national team, whether it's because of an injury or a family matter, many look at it as just a convenient excuse...
I've always wanted to play for the national team. From the very beginning of the season I stayed in touch with Sergei Nemchinov (Team Russia assistant coach). I said right away that if I wasn't injured and the Rangers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, that I would join the team. I even made sure that I had no other plans during the World Championships.

I got a very positive impression of Bykov. Judging by both the World Championships and the environment within the team, it seems to me that he is worthy of remaining the coach of the national team for a long time.

The Rangers beat Atlanta easily in the first round. What impression did you have of Kovalchuk and his team?
I had the opportunity to stay on during Ilya's shifts. I wouldn't say that he played badly. Even Kozlov, Tkachuk, and Hossa played up to their levels. It seems to me that Atlanta played more as individuals than as a team.

In the next round you lost to Buffalo. Were the Sabres actually that good?
They were strong for the entire season, and stayed in first place the whole way. They're helped by the fact that all four components can play at a high speed. We didn't have enough to stop them.

If SKA-St.Petersburg were to offer you an equivalent contract, would you return to St. Petersburg?
It's not about the money. First, it's been my dream since childhood to play in the NHL, and second, I am now at the age where it is time for me to show what I am capable of. In any case, I have a contract with the Rangers for next season, so why even talk about this?

Many young Russian hockey players come to the NHL but then don't find success with their team and return home. Why is this?
It's too complicated for me to say. It could depend upon a lot of factors: the situation and the timing, the team, the coaches... or even other things, like injuries.

On the whole, how was this season for you?
I'll always think that I could've played better, but I can't call it an unsuccessful season. I got a lot out of this season, very much so.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vladimir Denisov signs AHL deal with Colorado


Vladimir Denisov (in red) at the '07 World Championships

22-year-old Belarusian defenseman Vladimir Denisov, who played for Lada Togliatti of the Russian Super League last season, has signed an AHL contract with the Lake Erie Monsters, the AHL affilate of the Colorado Avalanche.

The transaction has not been reported as of yet by either the Monsters or the Avalanche, or by Eurohockey.net, but was announced several days ago on the Belarus Ice Hockey Association web site. Since then, the signing has been reported by a number of Russian and Belarusian sites (link link link), including an interview with Denisov in Pressball.

Denisov was a member of the Belarus national team at both the 2006 and 2007 IIHF World Championships, and gives credit to U.S.-born Team Belarus head coach Curt Fraser for the improvements that will now see him playing in North America.

The news of Denisov's signing has obviously earned added interest in his home country, which has seen only a handful of Belarusians play in the NHL recently (Ruslan Salei, Andrei Kostityn, Konstantin Koltsov, and Mikhail Grabovsky are the few that I know of).

I don't have any Belarusian hockey songs handy to celebrate the occasion, so the best I can offer now is this one, from Denisov's RSL team:
Hey, Hey Lada

Sucks, I know.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Kasparaitis to be bought out by Rangers


Darius Kasparaitis

Earlier today, Sport Express posted an interview with Alexei Yashin and Mark Gandler, Yashin's agent, with the main topic of discussion being the recent buy-out of Yashin's contract by the NY Islanders.

During the course of the interview, Gandler revealed that another one of his clients, NY Rangers defenseman Darius Kaspariatis, was about to have his contract bought out, also.

The conversation went as follows (question by Sport Express, answer given by Gandler):

How did you react to the news about the Islanders breaking their agreement with Yashin?

This is a normal business procedure, as provided by the NHL by-laws. In America, anything can be bought and sold, including contracts bound by signature.

As it just so happens, I already know of one other player that I represent who will be having his contract bought out soon, also-- Darius Kasparaitis, who still has one year to go on his contract with the Rangers.

Sparrin' With The Varmint


Freemasonry

When I took a flier and bought the then-unknown-to-me Freemasonry's "Kitty Come Home"/"Acacia" single back in 1995, it was mostly because it was under 2 bucks, and it had Howie Gano's name on the back of it (Louisville studio engineer who had worked with Slint, Squirrel Bait, Bastro, and Bitch Magnet, among others). It turned out to be well worth the two dollars; Freemasonry not only had similarities to stuff like Jawbox and Drive Like Jehu, but also harkened back to a lot of the 80's Homestead/Touch and Go-type action that I dearly loved, like Phantom Tollbooth and Scratch Acid.

I liked the single so much that I called the record label's phone number that was listed on the back, to see if I could set up an interview or something. It turned out that there wasn't much going on in that department, but the band had just put a brand new CD out, "Sparrin' With The Varmint", which the label was decent enough to send to me.

It wasn't long afterwards that most of the Freemasonry guys went on to form Galanas:Cerdd and shed themselves from Freemasonry entirely, to the point of giving away the CD for free at shows (which, I figure, explains all of the copies that you can buy for pennies each on Amazon).

Regardless, I still think the CD is pretty good, which you can judge for yourself from the tracks that I've posted here. If anyone's feeling industrious and wants to download every song, they seem to be available on this funny-looking page over here.

In addition, someone very recently set up a MySpace page for Freemasonry, and there's a page for the semi-regarded Fiddlehead (which was Bruce Bohannon's band prior to Freemasonry), also.



Lick Clean Method (listen)
Sensible (listen)
Kitty Come Home (listen)
Every Day
Barrel
When The Dope's Around
Templar Fightin' Monk (listen)
Mystical Union
If It Isn't One Thing
Alive With Pleasure
Mrs. E. Coli
Shitjack
Einahpets (listen)
Nnfy
De Molay

(Generic Sports Blog Disclaimer, for G12: Rock, it's what we're all about, it's what we live for, come on shout it out)

Songs have reverted to listen-only files

Elmira Jackals Move To New Jersey, But Won't Actually Be Moving To New Jersey


This is not what happened

As Michael Fornabaio points out, "Jackals Move To New Jersey!" is a potentially messy headline if all it is you're announcing is that your hockey team is switching to a new uniform, and not actually moving to New Jersey.


The headline from the Jackals' web site

If you're interested, click here to see the full-on layout of the Jackals' new threads.