With Ovechkin, Super League building hockey's next super power - NY Daily News

Unthinkable
10-19-2003, 11:17 AM
http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/story/128190p-114694c.html

From Russia with gloves

With Ovechkin, Super League
building hockey's next super power

By WAYNE COFFEY
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

MOSCOW - On the banks of the Moscow River, a slap shot off a boulevard called Komsomolski Prospekt, the best young hockey prospect in the world is wearing a blue and white uniform and carrying the puck behind the net, an opposing defenseman draped all over him.

The kid is 18, a 6-2, 200-pound right wing. His name is Alexander Ovechkin, and he is big and strong and fast, and sheds the defender as easily as if he were taking off his coat. He powers in front, wrists the puck into the low corner, scores. At one end of a pale yellow shoebox of an arena called Luzhyniki, teammates mob him, and fans of his first-place team, Dynamo Moscow, roar in delight.

Soon enough, Dynamo has an overtime victory over Metallurg Magnitogorsk, its rival in the Russian Super League, and Ovechkin has his hands full, literally. In one hand is a gift box, his prize for being the No. 1 star of the game. In the other is a bundle of sticks that he must carry off the ice, his reward for being the youngest player on the team - a role he fills uncomplainingly.

Life is indeed bounteous these days for Alex Ovechkin, a kid who is almost everybody's lock to be the No. 1 pick at the NHL draft beginning June 25, and it is not much less so for the league he currently plays in.
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Unthinkable
10-19-2003, 11:24 AM
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David Conti is the director of scouting for the New Jersey Devils, a man who has been to Russia more than 50 times over the last two decades. Conti sees dramatic changes since the days when the entire Soviet hockey program was nothing but "a propaganda piece" to promote Communist ideology.

"It's a competitive league now rather than just a feeder system of the national team," Conti says. "It's much more economically driven. There were some troubles in the first few years of perestroika, but there seem to be more resources now that are making it better all the time. It's a strong, viable league."

In the last few years, nearly 25 Russian NHL players have returned to their homeland to play. Former Devils defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky is but one example, having signed with Avangard Omsk last August. Sergei Nemchinov (39) - a former Ranger, Islander and Devil - returned home to play for Locomotiv Jaroslavl, an emergent power with the best and newest stadium in the country, as did Andrei Kovalenko.

More and more, Russian players are having clauses written into their contracts that if they don't make the NHL club, they have the right to return to Russia.
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"I would be more than happy to pay my taxes there instead of here," says Igor Larionov, the Devils' 42-year-old center who is among the top players ever to come out of Russia.

A four-time world champion, two-time Olympic champion and the top player in the Soviet Union in 1987-88, Larionov had $5,000 in the bank before he followed Fetisov and Alexander Mogilny to the NHL in 1989. "When I came to Vancouver I was driving a Honda Civic," he says. "Now (Russia) is the second-highest-paid hockey league in the world."

Niedermayer21
10-22-2003, 12:06 PM
Kudos to Unthinkable, ratsgirl and JasonMacIsaac for all the info they provide! :bow:

I really hope Lou can find a way to get Ovechkin and Crosby. If we stockpile enough talent and picks, maybe we can get a shot at one or both of these future greats. It would have to be a Kurvers to Toronto kind of a deal. Lou tried for Lindros and ended up with Scotty Niedermayer. We can try for Ovechkin and Crosby and may end up with a player who is even better in the pros.

In Lou we trust. ;)