Russian Hockey News and Notes

By Jake Dole

Svitov, Chistov content in the High League

2002 draft’s 3rd and 5th overall picks, Alexander Svitov and Stanislav Chistov are currently playing for the HC CSKA second team (Russian High League). The two prospects have been disallowed to play for the CSKA Superleague club, after their refusal to remain with Avangard of the Superleague.

Chistov and Svitov, coming off their gold-medal World Junior Performance in Pardubice, Czech Republic, recently offered their thoughts on their ultimate decision.

According to Stanislav and Alexander, they were pressured by Avangard’s president Anatoli Bardin to fire their agent, Jay Grossman. According to Chistov: “We realized that in Avangard, there was nothing good for us. The President of the club (Bardin) wanted us to fire Grossman… In CSKA, I feel that I am getting more practice and playing time”.

Speaking about the players’ ties with their respective NHL clubs, both mentioned that they periodically get calls from Anaheim and Tampa Bay. “Tampa Bay call me once in a while. They payed for my English lessons”, said Svitov.

Commenting about his alleged refusal to return from North America after the draft, Chistov offered his story. “I had a slight knee injury right after the draft. The Anaheim staff offered their assistance… However, Bardin made a phone call, stating that if I did not return to Omsk, I’d be declared a deserter… As a result, I spent time in the VDV Learing Center (near Omsk) painting fences”.

(Svitov’s and Chistov’s use of time in the center definitely makes one wonder whether their rushed return was as mandatory as it was made out to be)

“I spent about a month in the center”, said Svitov, “They sent me there pretty quickly after the talks about my contract with Tampa got out”.

Then why did Svitov sign the contract in the first place, considering all the turmoil that resulted?

“Tampa contacted the RHF about me signing an NHL contract, and received the reply that it would not be a problem”, said Svitov, “I feel partly responsible for this, because I was naive to believe that such consequences would not occur”.

Although the two players cannot turn back the clock, they still ponder as to what could have been…

“I feel that I should have gone to University, where they have army training. Right now, the only good news has been the gold medals… Hopefully, soon enough we will return to the top club.”

Bardin Offers His Statement

Avangard’s President Anatoli Bardin offered his own views on Svitov and Chistov’s decisions to flee to the High League.

“We used up so much of our strength to bring up talented kids, and that is how they thanked us”, said Bardin, “We wanted to allow them to play at the top level. But our attempts were thwarted”.

“To be honest”, added Bardin, “these kids changed a lot since the draft ceremony. Because of their 3rd and 5th spots, they became hot-headed… They only have the right to play for Avangard. And not for any other team”.

(The players are bad and the system is righteous?)

Nabokov’s Replacement Named

The Russian National Team was forced into a tough decision after the International’s Sporting Court’s arbitrator turned down Evgeni Nabokov’s appeal to play for team Russia at the Salt Lake Olympics.

According to sources, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks goaltending prospect, Ilya Bryzgalov will be named to the roster. The 21-year old Bryzgalov saw one game of action in the NHL (Anaheim) this year, because of an early-year injury to Steve Shields.

Fetisov Reacts

“Like all of Russian fans, I am very sad about the decision of the court”, said the Coach and General Manager of the Russian Olympic hockey team, “Nabokov considers himself to be a Russian and shows willingness to play for the team. If I was a commentator, I would say that Russia got robbed once again. As for Bryzgalov, I will know for sure after talking to my assistants.”