Homo Homer

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

April. The cruelest month. Mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with Spring rain.

Yup. We're helpless.

Yup. We’re helpless.

How do we put this? There just wasn’t a whole lotta Captastical in “America’s Hockey Capital” this season…even if that motto doesn’t send you screaming out a window.

How bad was it? Not even Red Rally Balloon (or blimp) could have saved this squad this season. Face it: our defense was weaker than wet Kleenex, our five-on-five as shriveled as Donald Rumsfeld’s conscience, and our goalie-go-round more confused than Chris Christie in a SweetGreen.

This is exactly what this season felt like. Exactly.

This is exactly what this season felt like. Exactly.

Moar? How about a sclerotic front office? Asinine line switch-ups? Trades and acquisitions more tone-deaf than Alec Baldwin at an ACT-UP meeting, inconsistent play, no Olympic medal for Ovi, crappy t-shirts and I’m waiting in line for 20 minutes and you’re just now telling me you have no hot dogs. TED Y U NO HAVE HOT DOGS?!?!

In summa, this season was a swift one to the nads. Over, and over again…hard, swift and directly to the giggleberrys. Just one giant bad touch of a season.

Now to be fully honest, it’s not like the entire hockey season was without moments of happy. Torts got canned and flamed out way out west…so that was a special little snowflake of schadenfreude, yah?

Scandinavian good guys Sweden and Finland overturned the Olympic apple cart and brought home some sweet metal – even Nicky finally got his – even if crybaby Crosby snagged yet another blah blah please start shutting up about Crosby it’s not ruining my feels. And how many Wings won a bit of that?

WinterClassic1 Pavel Gregory Shamus GettySpeaking of, how about that Winter Classic? Scotty Bowman coaching at the alumni game? Red Kelly? Ted Lindsay? Mr. Hockey freakin’ Gordie Howe? And the game itself – Wings v Leafs, original six, out in a blizzard, at the Big House?

I wasn’t there but I can still taste the cocoa, the kishka, the iced beer. I can hear, once again, the amazing amplitude of being there, in Michigan stadium, cold as a Ryan budget…the roar that can only come from a humongous hole in the ground with 100,000 vocalists shouting in the world’s largest theater-in-the-round? Mmmm. Can you tell from my swelling pride that I’m a native Michigander? Detroit to be specific.

Sure, Toronto won. Just. But what a cherry pie. Capitals_Red_Wings_Hockey-04c38

And what about that Caps-Wings home and home match-up earlier this year? First game in Detroit; hard fought at the Joe, the place on its feet for overtime, and a lightning bolt of a shoot-out win for 1 for the Wings.

Then two days later, here in your nation’s crapital, the arena electric with dueling Wings and Caps tribes, the game teeter-tottering like a Hollywood movie, maybe this, maybe that, only then after OT and another shootout and a lazer shot that wins it for the Caps…



Two teams. Two games. Each witha thrilla win at home; each with three points. Best.

So…looking back, here in the Mirkwoods of playoffs, what path does a Wings-transplant/Caps-transplantational patient take?

It’s right there. Capitals, love you, go golf and figure yourselves out. Wings?

I can pivot.

If the United States government with all its whatnot and Humpheroo and phoofehrah can pivot from something…we think Iraq, or Afghanistan, someone?… to Russia,or to South East Asia and the…um we really don’t know what we’re doing and really just need to stop here because confused

I am pivoting.

We are seeking a reset of relations with the Wings. We still believe in the innate greatness of the Capitals as an ideal; our founding ideas. And yet, we can recognize the much older nobility of a culture that preceded us; namely, the Red Wings. Home sweet home.

This is not a battle of old vs. new; of east vs. west. This is a recognition of all that we share and agree on. That hockey matters. And that I really really really need a Cup this year.

WingsNation: please please please. Please. Start by humiliating the filthy B’s.

- Sincerely, Doug

WingsPlayoffNationPS: Oh hellz yeah. BTW: looks like Wings Nation extends far across this nation.

What unites Alaska, Alabama, Washington, Tennessee, Louisiana, TenneTucky and the Great Lakes State?

Yup. America – north and south, rich and poor, pooter and critter – knows hockey. And they are Detroit Hockey Nation.

Oh, and look who we’re picking to go all the way!

SCP Bracket




Posted in Detroit Red Wings, Playoffs, Washington Capitals | Leave a comment

Gay Hockey Diary: Playoff Time

I finally started learning how to actually play hockey in the Madison Gay Hockey Association. I’ll chronicle my journey in my Gay Hockey Diary, a semi-regular feature here. See the previous posts here.

I now know why hockey players golf in the summer. I really don’t know what to do with myself now that hockey is over. Sundays now feel a little empty without MGHA games to keep be busy. So I might start golfing more, just to fulfill the cliche.

But I couldn’t be happier with the way our season ended, as the No. 6 seeded Green Gay Puckers stormed all the way to finish the tournament in 5th place!

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Round 1: Green Gay Puckers vs. Boo-teal-licous

The teal team holds a special place in my heart, as they were the first team I scored against. Granted, I don’t really think it was even my goal, but the ref saw a guy with a beard smack the puck in the net, so I got the goal.

We lit up the Boo-teal-licious goalie for 6 goals in our first game against them, but he came back with a vengeance in the playoffs. The Puckers carried the play throughout the entire game, but we just couldn’t score.

My center, Kevin, hit several posts, and Andrew, Teal’s goalie, stood on his head to make some incredible saves. He even had our bench applauding a few of his saves, he was that good.

But we found ourselves in a hole after giving up two quick goals in the second period. Then, one of our players got knocked down behind the net with three minutes left, and the ref raised his arm.

I thought for sure we were getting a power play. But no, our right wing was sent to the box for checking.

So we stacked our penalty kill with all our best players, and instead of playing defense, we just attacked. The anger from the wrongful penalty spurred some of the best play I’ve ever seen from our team’s veterans and they finally hit the back of the net with two minutes left on a shorthanded goal.

Once the penalty ended, we pulled our goalie and swarmed into the offensive zone. I fed a pass to Kevin with about 6 seconds left on the clock. He let a shot rip that sailed past Andrew in the crease.

He hit the post, and the game was over. The Green Gay Puckers were sent to the loser’s bracket.

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Round 2: Green Gay Puckers vs. Puck a L’orange

The orange team has had our number this year. They beat us in both games we played, and their goalie, Ryan, has simply tortured us. He even subbed in for absent goalies in weeks we weren’t even playing the orange team. He’s probably the best goalie in the league, and he’s become a good friend.  It seemed like we were playing against him every week—and he kept beating us. I had so many great chances against him, but I couldn’t bury it.

Since the orange team finished the regular season in second place, I assumed we wouldn’t have to worry about Ryan in the playoffs. But, the Team Formerly Known As Purple Reign somehow knocked off Puck a L’orange in the first round—which sent us on another collision course with the brick wall that was Ryan.

Once again, the Green Gay Puckers came out flying. We’ve become a great puck-possession team. The first five minutes saw more of the same, however, as all of our great chances bounced around in the crease before Ryan smothered the puck.

Then, finally, we got the monkey off our back thanks to Kevin who managed to bury a shot from the slot. We scored again a few minutes later, and we realized that we just might have a chance.

But the orange team came right back with two goals of their own in the second period.

Then, with the second period winding down, my line hopped over the boards and I went right to my favorite spot on the ice.

My friend now calls it the “Tony spot”—it’s about three feet to the right of the crease. I’ve learned that defenders only really try to push me out of the way if I’m right in front of the crease, so I now stand just to the right of it, and people seem to not notice me. Maybe it’s because I’m short.

But anyway, Kevin got the puck into the crease, and Ryan missed it on his covering attempt from the left side. It squired right to my stick and I took a swing. Out of nowhere, an Orange defender came in and blocked my shot with his skate.

“Of course,” I thought.

But I took one more whack at it, and the puck slipped behind the defender and into the net. That one felt good, and I thought it might hold up as the game-winner. But, we gave up a goal early in the third period. Then, with about 5 minutes remaining, I helped cause more havoc in the crease and my linemate Ben swooped in and buried a fourth goal to give us the win.

We don’t get too competitive in the MGHA, but that win felt good. It was the most jovial locker room I’ve ever seen from the Green Gay Puckers. We all came in expecting a loss, which would mean we would be battling to avoid a last-place finish in Round 3, but instead, we found ourselves fighting for 5th place.

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Round 3: Green Gay Puckers vs. Blue Bayou

I really enjoyed playing for the Green Gay Puckers, but if there was one team that exemplified everything good about the MGHA, it was Blue Bayou.

Frankly, Blue Bayou was awful. They wound up with a lot of first-year players who had never played hockey before, including a goalie. They never won a game until February, and only a few times did they even give opponents a scare.

But Blue Bayou was the most fun and most encouraging team on the ice. It was truly a pleasure to watch them play and to play against them.

What they lacked in talent, they made up for in personalities. Some of my best friends wound up on the Blue team, and they are all bright, cheerful and even loud people.

They would frequently start chants on the bench. Whenever their players made even the most mundane plays, they would all stand up and cheer. You could just tell that they all were very good friends off the ice, and they supported each other more than any other team on the ice.

Many a Blue Bayou player told me, “we may not win, but we have the most fun,” and there’s really no denying that.

I don’t even really remember much about the game, even though it was our last game. The Green Gay Puckers won and earned 5th place, but I just remember having a blast in that game. Both teams got great chances, both teams were yelling and supporting each other, and everyone was simply enjoying themselves.

It was the perfect way to end my first season in the MGHA. This league doesn’t care about anyone’s sexuality, race, gender or age. Hell, we barely care about skill level. If you don’t know how to play, we’ll teach you. I learned so much this year about hockey, but the biggest thing I’ll remember is just how much fun I had.

So here’s to a great season in the MGHA. I can’t wait until next year.

The Summer: Tournament Time

While I’m sad that the MGHA is over for the year, I’ll have plenty of gay hockey to keep me occupied over the summer. First is the MGHA Classic April 26-27 in Madison. We’re inviting players from all over the country to come play.

And I’ll be playing in New York City gay league’s Chelsea Challenge over Memorial Day weekend, which just so happens to coincide with Fleet Week.

So stay tuned for some offseason updates in my Gay Hockey Diary.

If you have any questions about the MGHA or life in general, feel free to email me.

Posted in Gay Hockey Leagues | Leave a comment

Dancing with Avery: Ejected from the Game

The “shocking” twist announced at the top of Dancing with the Stars last night was that there would be a double elimination. Usually these happen much later in the competition, but it was yet another attempt to shake up the show for season 18.

For those in the bottom of last week’s leaderboard:  Sean Avery (20 points), Swimmer Diana Nyad (18) and actor Billy Dee Williams (15), it was unwelcome news to start the show. The announcement of who was safe and who would go was done in batches and in round two Billy Dee found out the Force was with him. Yes, as predicted, his Star Wars-infused disaster of a Cha Cha Cha was a fan favorite and he was safe despite having the lowest judges scores.

Diana Nyad was eliminated within the show’s first hour.


Avery said in his rehearsal package, which featured him in a couple of quick shirtless takes, that he didn’t want to be the first to go home, and he was saved from that. Instead, he went second.

Unlike Nyad, Avery found out about his elimination after his group of three, which included actress/housewife NeNe Leakes and Australian pop star Cody Simpson, danced as the final three of the evening.

Here’s Avery’s work from last night, including the rehearsal footage, Salsa, judging, post-dance chatter and elimination.

I wonder, if Avery had the Salsa last week, would he have survived this week? In last week’s scores he was a single point off of NeNe, game show host Drew Carey and hunky singer James Maslow. I doubt he could’ve beaten Drew in the viewer votes, but I can imagine a scenario in this alternate universe where he could’ve overtaken either NeNe or James.

Avery looked far more at ease with the Salsa, even seeming to enjoy it. His comment about DWTS wanting constant smiles was excellent, although he had to understand it was part of the game too. No one wants to vote for someone who doesn’t look like they are having a good time. In the dance itself, he looked good. There were some footwork issues, but he had rhythm and he certainly moved and lifted Karina confidently. The final spin in the air was outstanding. The judges appreciated the work he put in too, giving him a 21 out of 30.

He would’ve been more protected had he survived this week. The leaderboard had five people (if you count him) at the bottom together. Billy Dee had an unfortunate Tango, which gave him another 15. There was a four-way tie at 21 with Drew, NeNe, actress Candace Cameron Bure and Avery. But we’ll never know how that might have panned out.

Three athletes are still in the running for the Mirror Ball. Skaters Charlie White and Meryl Davis are at the top this week, both earning 25. Charlie did a great tango and Meryl flew threw the air in a great Swing number. They’re tied in first with James. Paralympian Amy Purdy snagged a 24 for her Swing routine, which was also outstanding.

So with Avery out, PuckBuddys coverage of Dancing with the Stars concludes. If another NHL’er shows up in future seasons I’ll be happy to do this again.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some gratuitous ab-action, courtesy of James Maslow, who also did a Salsa this week. This was scored four points higher than Avery’s.

Jeff is excited to bring his love of dance competition shows to PuckBuddys after blogging about both “DWTS” and “So You Think You Can Dance” at jeffandwill.com. Jeff’s regular PuckBuddys beat includes the Red Wings and reviewing fiction that features gay hockey players. In addition, he’s written a young adult novel, Hat Trick, which details the coming out of two high school hockey players. He’s currently working on two sequels to that book. You can follow him on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc.

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Caps’ First Tweets

To mark their 8th birthday, twitter created a very cool tool to easily pull up any account’s first tweet. This made diving back to see the first tweets from those in the Caps organization an absolute breeze. Let’s fire up the Wayback Machine – first, the players:

Ovi @Ovi8 An early adopter. hahaha!!!)))) 


Kuz @Kuzya92 Google translate: “Forgot the keys to the intercom?”


Nicky @Backstrom19  Stick taps his bro.


MoJo, @mjohansson90  Simply Swedish


Troy @tbrouwer20 Happy to bare with him


Joel @JRandalWard42 “My name is Joel”


Brooksey @BrooksLaich Huh?


Clearly NOT our Jason Chimera @JasonChimera

not jason chimera

Dustin @DustinPenner25 This guy has mastered Twitter.


T-Dub @tom_wilso “The kid”

Tom W

F-16 @EricFehr Blame Nate


New guy Chris Brown @txbrownie Mazel Tov!

chris brown

JC74 @JohnCarlson74  Hello, Campers!


Alz @KarlAlzner  Needs more Duncan, Charlie and Murphy!


Ersk @JohnErskine04  May the power of Kenny compel you!


Greenie @GreenLife52 The journey…


Connor @connorcarrick  He’s a little bit country…


Braden @Holts170  JC74 gets the stick tap


Halak @JaroslavHalak41 (You need to update your bio, dude)


After the jump, the Front office and the CSN broadcast team- Continue reading

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Dancing with Avery: Clunky Contemporary

ABC’s Dancing with the Stars made its season 18 debut last night with 12 new stars arriving in the ballroom. From the moment former NHL player Sean Avery was introduced, he continued to look like he wasn’t thrilled to be there. While the other competitors looked excited and were grooving to the music, Avery looked more stoic than anything else.

Sean Avery - ABC PromoIf you missed this last night, his official promo picture sums it up. His partner, Karina Smirnoff is clearly into the moment, but he stands there looking as if he wants to be anywhere but here.

Is it nervousness because he’s distinctly out of his element? Maybe. His debut dance was Contemporary, which I thought was a mean choice to throw at competitors in the first week. Three dance styles were on display last night: Cha Cha Cha, Foxtrot and Contemporary. None of the styles are easy, but Contemporary requires fluid movement and a major connection to your partner and the music. Usually the stars get to start with some ballroom basics and move on to the more complicated dances. I don’t recall a season where Contemporary was unleashed so early.

Let’s go to the video for Avery’s performance, as well as the judges critiques and his post-dance interview with Erin Andrews.

Yes, Avery said he was trying to channel Ren McCormack from 1984′s Footloose, specifically the famous scene where he danced in the abandoned warehouse. Anyone else as shocked as I am by this revelation?

The dancing hockey player ended up with a judges score of 20, out of a 30. Carrie Ann and Bruno gave him sevens while Len went with six. The six was more in line with what I thought the dance deserved. Avery’s movements were clunky and lacked passion. A couple of the judges called him intense, but Karina didn’t seem in the same intense space that he was and it made for a lopsided performance because they weren’t emotionally connected.

Avery was outscored in Contemporary by both Full House actress Candace Cameron Bure (scoring a 25) and Olympic Gold Medal ice dancer Charlie White (scoring a 27, the night’s highest score). Let’s look at Charlie’s dance, which I’ll admit gave me goosebumps. This is what Contemporary should be.

How did the other athletes do last night? Charlie’s skating partner Meryl Davis scored a 24 with a great Cha Cha Cha. Paralympian, and newly minted Bronze medalist snowboarder, Amy Purdy also got a 24 for her Cha Cha Cha. Swimmer Diana Nyad got 18 points for her Foxtrot.

At the end of the show, White was at the top of the celebrities and actor Billy Dee Williams was at the bottom with 15. Avery’s 20 put him third from the bottom with only Diana and Billy Dee trailing.

Of course, this is really a popularity contest, so how well someone dances often matters less than how big their fan base is. Can Avery pull more votes than a beloved actor from Star Wars, who milked that for all it was worth? That’s a tough call, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Avery was eliminated next week. If not next week though, I don’t think Avery will make it to the halfway point unless he starts to act like he wants to be on the show and put in the work to improve his technique.

Who do I think ultimately wins the Mirror Ball Trophy? My money is on the ice dancers. Meryl and Charlie are going to duke it out to the end. Charlie will get all my votes because he’s so damn cute. Tough competition will come from actresses Bure and Danica McKellar, snowborder Purdy, as well as Australian pop star Cody Simpson.

To wrap up this week, let look at the truly disturbing number from last night, showing Disney marketing synergy run amok. It’s like a missing scene from the Star Wars Christmas Special. Here’s Billy Dee Williams doing a Cha Cha Cha to the Disco version of the Star Wars theme.

Jeff is excited to bring his love of dance competition shows to PuckBuddys after blogging about both “DWTS” and “So You Think You Can Dance” at jeffandwill.com. Jeff’s regular PuckBuddys beat includes the Red Wings and reviewing fiction that features gay hockey players. In addition, he’s written a young adult novel, Hat Trick, which details the coming out of two high school hockey players. He’s currently working on two sequels to that book. You can follow him on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc.

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Dancing with Avery: A Preview

As the season 18 cast for ABC’s Dancing with the Stars was announced this past week, former Red Wings / Kings / Stars / Rangers player Sean Avery made DWTS history as the first NHL’er to appear on the competition.

DWTS has at least one athlete each year, and season 18 is chock full of them, including newly minted Olympic Gold Medal ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis, swimmer Diana Nyad, para-olympian Amy Purdy. That’s five of twelve competitors who all know how to train and win.


Winners of the show often come from an athletic background too: Emmitt Smith (NFL player, season 3), Apolo Ohno (olympic speed skater, season 4), Helio Castroneves (Indy 500 driver, season 5), Kristi Yamaguchi (olympic figure skater, season 6), Shawn Johnson (olympic gymnast, season 8), Hines Ward (NFL player, season 12), and Donald Driver (NFL player, season 14).

How will Avery fair? He’s got a great pro teacher, at least to start the show with, having been paired with Karina Smirnoff. She’s never won the coveted mirror ball trophy, but she’s finished top three in the past two seasons.


However, in these behind-the-scenes shots that ABC released (above), Avery looks none-to-happy to be there. If he’s not committed to going for it, it’s going to be hard to win the audience’s favor and even harder to actually learn the dances.


The competition isn’t going to cut him and slack either. You’ve got people like Davis, White, Big Time Rush member James Maslow, and singer Cody Simpson who know how to move and keep rhythm (though for the pop singers, that doesn’t always translate to ballroom success).

So, over the coming weeks, I’ll be your guide to DWTS as Avery dones ballroom sparkles. You can expect I’ll keep up with the other athlete competitors as well as my personal DWTS crushes — pro Derek Hough, the winner of more championships than anyone else (he coached Glee’s Amber Riley to a win in the fall and is paired with Amy Purdy this season) and newly promoted pro Henry Byalikov, who has killer abs and is partnered with Diana Nyad.

If the show runs as usual, there’ll be 10 weeks of competition. Lots of new stuff happens this season with a new co-host, Erin Andrews (now with Fox Sports and 3rd place winner from season 10), as well as new things happening with the music since the house band was fired between seasons. Plus, it’s been announced that at some point in the season the celebrity/pro combinations will change and the audience will vote on that.

So, look for a review of the previous night each Tuesday for as long as Avery’s in the competition. The dance party starts next Monday, March 17, on ABC.


Jeff is excited to bring his love of dance competition shows to PuckBuddys after blogging about both DWTS and So You Think You Can Dance at jeffandwill.com. Jeff’s regular PuckBuddys beat includes the Red Wings and reviewing fiction that features gay hockey players. In addition, he’s written a young adult novel, Hat Trick, which details the coming out of two high school hockey players. He’s currently working on two sequels to that book. You can follow him on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc.

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Kuznetsov: Then & Now (Part 2 of 2)

Among the many hockey fans eagerly anticipating the arrival of the latest Russian phenom Evgeny Kuznetsov, count Dave Bidini.

Tropic of HockeyAn accomplished musician, author, film-maker and all-around hockey nut, Bidini documented the life and trials of a young Kuznetsov 10 years ago in the film “Hockey Nomad.” Tracking the trevails of a 12-year-old Kuz and his struggling family, Bidini offers a portrait of a young “Zenia” as an unusually mature, yet uncertain pre-teen with one skate in an NHL future and the other in his hard-scrabble youth. 

If you haven’t read “Tropic of Hockey“, do so right now. In the meantime, the second of our two-part interview with Canadian polymath Bidini. Today: young Kuznetsov’s emerging talents , and how they might manifest in the NHL. 

As a side note, we all may get to see Kuznetsov sooner than later. Now in the U.S., Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates – who described meeting Kuz for the first time like “seeing the Loch Ness monster) – hints the 21-year-old may hit the ice as early as Monday, when the Caps face off against the stinking Pens.


PuckBuddys: What does hockey mean in Russia compared to what it means in Canada or the northern US?

Dave Bidini: Well I would say, as it is in Canada, there are differences between the country and the city. But certainly in a place like Omsk – and we were in other places like Kazan, where it’s huge, it’s everything and those are long, cold winters in those places – I think in Moscow, St. Petersburg to a point, some of the bigger cities, soccer is the rising giant.

Nomad Kuz 6And there are other games and other sports that compete for the young athletes interest. But in the smaller places, it was like being in central Saskatchewan where you’d find these huge pads of ice and hundreds of kids playing, so it’s huge. And I also think, from Sochi, as hockey being a nationally-defining game still; and Putin or Ovechkin saying (it cost) $51 billion dollars to win the gold medal in hockey, so yeah, its a big deal.

PB: I remember a section of the film with a bunch of hockey moms kvelling back and forth. Are Russian hockey moms basically like Canadian hockey moms?

Nomad Kuz 7Yeah, we were so happy to find them and to realize that it’s universal, right? Same concern, same kind of mother instincts and same politics – this kid’s getting played more than my kid – so that was a real beautiful moment to draw out the similarities between the two, between our hockey culture here in Canada and parts of the northern states and how it’s reflected in the same way over way.

I mean, I don’t know if you know this, but back to Zenia – we lost touch with him for a long time and then I turned on the World Juniors on the TV, it was a preliminary game, early-round, and Gordon Miller from TSN was talking about Kusnetsov. And I could tell immediately by the stride that it was Zenia. And so I emailed Gordon about the whole story, and he went to talk to him after the game.

Kuz WJCaHe said: ‘Do you remember…’ And he was like ‘Oh yeah, I still remember those guys, say Hi from me to them’ and so I can’t wait for him to get to North America, and have a little reunion with him or whatever. [Ed note: we spoke with Bidini on Friday, just one day before Zenia's arrival in the US.]

What a great young man he is. I’m sure he’s going to do really well because he’s not like…the league, the NHL, is lousy with young Russian prospects who’ve come over here, and they’re just not ready.

Zenia is going to be mature enough, I think, to play – I realize the KHL is different from the NHL – but I think he’s going to do well, I really do.

PB: Did you get a sense in Russia that older players mentored younger ones? Because there’s a sense that Ovi is ready to take this kid under his wing and mentor him. Did that exist in Russia that you saw?

I know Oleg Tverdovsky was kind of a veteran dude on the [hockey team] Avant-Garde…well, Jagr was there, but he’s Czech. But Tverdovsky was seen as quite involved with the younger players and the younger teams. Whether he had one-on-one with Zenia I’m’ not sure, but that was 10 years ago so I’m not sure whether there is in fact a mentoring culture. But actually, I’m not even sure that’s the case in Canada.

KuznetsovKettler-9 CGI mean, junior hockey is junior hockey – there’s not really a lot of crossover. And I’m sure Zenia is going to have to deal with a lot of what every rookie player is going to have to deal with. I mean, any bitterness among veterans; although the Caps have always struck me, with Brooks Laich and other guys, it seems like a fairly good group of players. I mean even at the worst of times, they don’t really implode. You don’t really hear of anything terribly political coming out of that dressing room. Whether he’s mentored by Alexander Ovechkin, whether that’s a good thing or not, I don’t know…

PB: Although Ovi has really grown in the role of Captain…

Yeah, I’d agree. And I think he’s an evolving athlete and person, and again; you go back to Sochi. In other years, if other players had been involved in that kind of shit show, there would have been a lot of complaining, a lot of bashing of the coach and the system, blah, blah, blah.

Ovi KuzOvechkin just came back and started playing hockey. And when we talked to him, about Dima as a kid, he had his shit together back then. If he maybe insulates Zenia; but again, I don’t think, Zenia’s not going in there too green. He’s going in with his eyes wide open. And I think, he’s a kid, right?

I was trying to think of the player he reminded me most of. And the player who he evokes is Keith Primeau. You know, tall, rangy, but quitely powerful kind-of player? Strong defensively? I mean, Primeau had to leave hockey ultimately, but yeah.

It speaks a lot for him that they’re willing to drop him into the fucking heat of a playoff run, so yeah!

PB: A playoff run where they’re desperately needing…

No kidding.

PB: What are your thoughts about the Russian system of paying to move young players off to other teams and cities?

Yeah…It does exist to a point here in junior hockey in Canada, where you will find kids taken from their home to go play abroad. I think it’s very unhealthy.

Morgan Rielly who plays defense for the Leafs; he went to Notre Dame, then Saskatchewan, then Moose Jaw, when he was, what, 14? He spent the better part of his youth living away from home, staying with strange families, and I don’t think it’s good. That one percent, sure, they’ll be able to fight through it. But a kid at that age; they’re lonely, and plunged into this dubious environment.

There’s sort of a quiet movement afoot here in Canada, at least in Toronto, to try and revive a varsity league for midget-aged kids. So instead of having to go elsewhere to play…I mean, Wendel Clark is actually trying to make this happen, he was telling me about it. He dropped his kid off at school, and not having to drive 20 miles to a rink to play in his competitive league. I mean, if they can somehow figure out a way to get that happening in neighborhoods, between schools, I mean, you’re going to drop the kid off and know he’s going to be there.

PB: So how do you see him fitting in to the NHL?

evgeny-kuznetsov-locker-kettler-607x607Well, it depends what sort of role they have carved for him. But I think he’s an intelligent enough player; he’s not a dangler, he’s not a sniper. He’s not Kovalchuk. He’s not that kid that you put on the ice and you expect him to wire three pucks for every game. He’s a good citizen of the game, so I think he’s going to be fine. And again, because you’ve got Ovechkin there, he’s not the meal-ticket.

I think you can plug him in and he’s going to be fine, however Adam Oates uses him. But I think he can do a lot of things. He’s a great skater, and if he scores, that’s a bonus. But I think he’s going to be fine.

Post script: We’ll be at the Verizon Center Monday, in our home section of 406, as eagerly awaiting Zenia star turn as Dave Bidini, and everyone else is. Stop by and say hi. And thanks again to Dave for the time. We can’t wait to hear his thoughts at the end of the season on what 10 years have meant for young Kuznetsov. 

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