When Team Russia announced their roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Valeri Nichushkin’s name being on it was a bit of a surprise.
After all, he’s just 18 years old and he doesn’t have a long history of international experience. According to a report from Russia, his selection has caused a bit of a rift between Team Russia’s coach and GM.
Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said Nichushkin’s inclusion was “an advanced payment” that he “must justify.” In other words, it’s a risky selection that had better pay off.
Team Russia’s GM Alexei Yashin (yeah, him) views it differently.
“It’s hard to talk about an advance payment. It’s the wrong word,” said Yashin, who played 850 career NHL games. “Nichushkin has earned the call to the Olympics with his game.”
Nichushkin has nine goals and 22 points in his rookie season with the Stars. Yashin says his performance is reminiscent of rookie seasons from John Tavares and Sidney Crosby. You can’t say he’s not going to the wall for the guy he picked.
There’s a lot of pressure for Russia to win big at the Olympics. They last won a medal in 2002 (bronze) and they were embarrassed by Canada when they were knocked out in 2010. Now that they’re playing host, they want gold badly. If Nichushkin helps them do that, Yashin will look like a genius.
While he hasn’t officially announced his retirement from playing, Alexei Yashin seems to be moving on with a new chapter in his hockey career.
That was the word out of Russia on Friday as Yashin was hired as GM of the Russian women’s national team.
“I think for the ladies it’s a great gift for the new year,” Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak told IIHF.com. “Alexei is a fine man who did a lot for our country. The solution will benefit both our coaching staff and give new challenges to the General Manager.”
The Russian women are currently ranked sixth in the world by the IIHF, behind Canada, the United States, Finland, Switzerland and Sweden.
Yashin, the second overall pick at the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, scored 781 points in 850 NHL games before jumping to Russia in 2007. He’s spent the last five years playing for Lokomotiv, SKA St. Petersburg and, most recently, CSKA Moscow.
Off the ice, Yashin has maintained a long-term relationship with former supermodel Carol Alt, who used to be married to ex-New York Rangers captain Ron Greschner. (From the PHT Page Six files)
It’s tough being the Ottawa Senators. Your team has been successful for the last ten-plus seasons, aside from a couple of recent headache years. You’ve had tremendously talented players there as well (Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, uh… Alexei Yashin) as a Stanley Cup finals appearance yet no one seems to respect you. Don’t suppose that’s got anything to do with how you look on the ice now does it?
Best: When the Senators came to be out of expansion in 1992 they showed up with a unique logo and typical early 90s color scheme of red, black, and white. What they did with their sweater was something classical, however. With the large logo emblazoning the front and with simple stripes on the sleeves and waist as well as a curious shoulder logo that made you wonder if the team was sponsored by Sheraton, it was a good looking sweater.
When they added white stripes to the sleeves in 1995, the sweater really popped and became one of the better looking ones in the league. It’s a classy look that I’m disappointed they went away from to look more modern.
Worst: Yet again, a terrible third sweater gets the call as the worst one. This time around, it’s their most recent black third sweater that indescribably decided a diagonal word mark was the way to go. Instead of it saying “OTTAWA” or “SENATORS” they decided to shorten things up to be edgy going with “SENS.” Instead of being edgy it was just stupid and on top of it all, it just looks bad.
Old-Timey Goodness: These modern-day Senators have absolutely nothing at all to do with the team that existed in the early days of the NHL in the 20s and 30s, but that won’t stop us from digging out my favorite barber pole sweater from the days of the original Senators. It’s all the same colors the modern Senators use but with a large “O” on the front and everything in striped glory. This is as old-timey as old-timey gets and I can’t get enough of it. Here’s to hoping the Senators 20th anniversary vintage-inspired sweaters that are on the way this year will indeed take enough of a nod from these beauties.
Assessment: The Senators’ current array of sweaters is not inspiring in the least. Switching from their Roman era logo that they started with to the cartoony Senator to a similar-looking style they have now doesn’t do much for me at all. Going to a red sweater was a nice move, but the color swirls and dumb logo are disheartening. It’s not a bad sweater, it just… Is. If that doesn’t sum up the Senators’ run in the NHL, I don’t know what does.