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Alexander Nikulin's Blog Part II

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Old
09-15-2008, 08:03 PM
  #601
ThirtyFive
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A new entry has been posted, on the 12th actually. Just noticed, but it's a bit late now. Will have it up for you guys tomorrow morning

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09-16-2008, 07:52 AM
  #602
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Great, thanks ThirtyFive!

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09-16-2008, 09:08 AM
  #603
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Proving myself once again.
September 12, 2008.


This time I went to Ottawa together with my girlfriend Natalya, which is very cool. A lot more fun together. Recently we went out to a restaurant, went to the movies with Ilja Zubov, the three of us, to see Death Race. I understood much of it, and whatever I didn’t Natalya translated.

Unexpectedly for myself I’m back in the prospects camp. Perhaps it’s customary in the NHL to put a player in a difficult situation to see how he handles it. I’m able to take it, but to be honest I was counting on a bit more. After all, I was a prospect last year.

There were tests the first day of camp. We did the usual sit-ups, push-ups. So we were tested on strength and endurance. They told us the results right away. My figures were much better than last year’s. Training with Gonchar did good to me. It’s obvious from on-ice training as well. I feel much better, get tired less.

We were divided in threes, but I couldn’t tell you their order. I’m skating with Kaspars Daugavins and another guy from Canada. We have yellow jerseys. In Russia this would mean the fourth line. Looks like there’s no such distinction in North America.

We will see very soon what line I’m on. In a couple of days all the prospects are going to a four-team tournament. It should be clear whether I’m being counted on. So far there haven’t been any meetings with the management, nobody’s speaking about my possible future. There was a team meeting with the head coach where the usual words were said. Such as, you’re the best players there are, we believe in you, but now you must prove yourselves.

There a many new faces in the locker room. Most of them I don’t know, and they me. Still, we try having conversations. People ask how you’d spent the summer. I say I spent all of it in Moscow. In the morning they ask what everyone did last night.

Nothing’s changed. All right, will concentrate on the forthcoming games. If I have to I’ll prove that I’m ready for the big team. Rather, I’m ready to be given the chance. I want to work with the big team.


Last edited by ThirtyFive: 09-16-2008 at 11:27 AM.
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09-16-2008, 09:13 AM
  #604
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I hope he hasn't gotten his hopes up to high, because I don't think hes going to make the team right out of training camp, and by the sounds of it, he thinks hes not a prospect anymore and deserves to only be playing with the big team.

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09-16-2008, 09:19 AM
  #605
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Sounds like he doesn't really know what's going on or how anything works.

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09-16-2008, 09:22 AM
  #606
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Just a few quotes by people in the Rookie Tournament Results thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by familyguyman View Post
Alex Nikulin: General all around player. He controlled the play, hit and back checked but also showed some flash and some moves. Not much production, but solid in all situations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickabrat View Post
Nikulin was OK but nothing secial. He played a solid game, and he is not a perimeter player, he did get involved ith some hits and played a good 2 way game.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caeldan View Post
Nikulin to me looked like he was playing a bit on cruise control a lot of the game, he'd often just coast around waiting for a play to come to him - almost like he was playing a 'zone' defense... if the puck was inside his zone he'd step up and get into gear, but otherwise he'd take it easy - even on line changes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caeldan View Post
Also Nikulin and Lovejoy got into something that resulted in Nikulin being put into a headlock and tossed down to the ice and the two of them getting 2 minute roughing minors.

I'm not really sold on Nikulin - he has flashes of brilliance, there were a couple times in both games where he was able to completely pickpocket the guy with the puck, but then a lot of times right after someone else would bump him off it. He also still was skating fairly lazily - only really turning it up if the puck was within 5' or so of him - wasn't forechecking very hard at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gunsnbutter View Post
Winchester, Zubov, Nikulin and Regin really stood out as to be expected, although Nikulin looked a little gassed near the end of the game.


Last edited by ThirtyFive: 09-16-2008 at 09:35 AM.
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09-16-2008, 09:36 AM
  #607
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His attitude is starting to worry me. Last season he indicated he was surprised by the difference of North American hockey and he wanted to do the work to make the big club, but it almost seems like he feels putting in time has earned him a spot.

I hope that it is just his desire to play int he NHL, but it seems that he is not channeling it as well as he did before. Yes he worked harder than ever in the off-season, but I don't see why he feels he should be exempt from the prospect camp. Zubov, and Elliott are there.

I am cheering for Nikulin; I would like to see him make the team, but there seems to be more of an air of entitlement in this latest blog that troubles me.

C'mon Nukes, Go to go camp and SHOW why you should be on this team.

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09-16-2008, 09:39 AM
  #608
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He does seem a little surprised to be lumped together with the rest of the prospects. I think he may have been expecting to be training with the Senators right off the bat. I still believe the fire is there; I think he'll try his best to make the team, though I don't know how well he realizes that the odds are not that good that he does. I hope he does, though. Ottawa needs some new blood, seeing how last season went.

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09-16-2008, 09:43 AM
  #609
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It seems like the season in Russia begins much earlier than the North American one, so he may have been expecting the main training camp to start earlier as well. Haven't Russian teams already played a bunch of pre-season games? Meanwhile, the "big team"'s camp hasn't even opened yet.

What might be getting lost in translation is that it seems he's chomping at the bit to get started with NHL-calibre competition, and surprised that it hasn't started yet.

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09-16-2008, 10:12 AM
  #610
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It seems to me like there is a lack of communication between Senators management and their (top) prospects. If Nikulin doesn't understand why he's at the rookie camp again, this can be explained quite easily with a 5 to 10 minute meeting. I know it might be a bit time-consuming but it seems like small entrance interviews, at least with some players, would be useful. There's a difference between coddling the players and enlightening them as to how they can get the most out of the exercise. I thought the same thing with the Kaigorodov affair.

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09-16-2008, 10:18 AM
  #611
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Keogh View Post
It seems to me like there is a lack of communication between Senators management and their (top) prospects. If Nikulin doesn't understand why he's at the rookie camp again, this can be explained quite easily with a 5 to 10 minute meeting. I know it might be a bit time-consuming but it seems like small entrance interviews, at least with some players, would be useful. There's a difference between coddling the players and enlightening them as to how they can get the most out of the exercise. I thought the same thing with the Kaigorodov affair.
This has been a long term problem with this team. It seems like a lot of clarification or explanation is bypassed, but I don't think it's intentional so much as proof of "the way things [the minutiae of prospect development, contract non-negotations etc.] are done". Communication has not been a forte in recent years but it might only feel specific to Ottawa, because the Senators are the only team we watch with this close a microscope. However there are a lot of people who have left Ottawa with a bad taste in their mouth, not limited to Kaigorodov, Chara, Commodore and Lapointe, who said they were never communicated with at all.

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09-16-2008, 10:32 AM
  #612
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moz View Post
This has been a long term problem with this team. It seems like a lot of clarification or explanation is bypassed, but I don't think it's intentional so much as proof of "the way things [the minutiae of prospect development, contract non-negotations etc.] are done". Communication has not been a forte in recent years but it might only feel specific to Ottawa, because the Senators are the only team we watch with this close a microscope. However there are a lot of people who have left Ottawa with a bad taste in their mouth, not limited to Kaigorodov, Chara, Commodore and Lapointe, who said they were never communicated with at all.
I agree it might feel specific to Ottawa only because we wouldn't know if it was the case with other teams, but if anything that would seem to give extra incentive to improve communication because it would be advantageous to be above other teams in that regard. Nikulin is a significant prospect, one who has a chance to play a regular role in our team in the near future, and I think sticking to this "the way things are done" attitude is illogical in a day and age when young, cheap assets are as valuable as ever.

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09-16-2008, 10:35 AM
  #613
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I don't see how he fits in at all, I think he could make the team but I don't see how he fits in since Kelly is signed long term.

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09-16-2008, 10:49 AM
  #614
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sens fan in Toronto View Post
I don't see how he fits in at all, I think he could make the team but I don't see how he fits in since Kelly is signed long term.
Kelly can play LW. I've been suggesting for a while that a third line of Kelly-Nikulin-Foligno be tried. When Nukes and Foligno played together last year in Bingo they had chemistry, and Kelly is a good fit as a veteran presence on that line. It should be solid defensively, provide energy and also have some potential to score. All three of those guys can score 30-40 points this year, and that's about what we need from a third line. I doubt it will happen though.

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09-16-2008, 10:50 AM
  #615
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sens fan in Toronto View Post
I don't see how he fits in at all, I think he could make the team but I don't see how he fits in since Kelly is signed long term.
I don't think of Nikulin and Kelly as being that similar, but even if they were, it's not a bad thing to have two players for the same role. It give you the flexibility to trade one or the other to fill a hole elsewhere in the lineup at a later date.

Even if Nikulin was guaranteed to never have a slot in Ottawa, he's still got the same challenge. He needs to prove he's good enough to earn a roster spot on an NHL club. If he does that then he increases the likelihood of the Sens making a trade that puts him on an NHL roster.

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09-16-2008, 11:25 AM
  #616
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I don't think we can extrapolate there is a communication problem with the Senators top prospects and management from this issue. This could be specific to Nikulin and not wide spread , just look at the difference in attitude with Zubov.

Zubov on Rookie Camp
Quote:
"I just went out there and tried to do what I could do," he said. "Sometimes I got lucky. Rookie camp is for young guys to show management what you can do. It's a big opportunity and you have to work hard."
link

Zubov views Rookie Camp as an opportunity and Nikulin views Rookie Camp as a chore from his comments.

To some extent, the differing views are understandable given Nikulin is older and was more established in Russia.

And this is not to assign blame on Nikulin, there could be a legitimate reason for the misunderstanding and it could fall mostly on management, but to generalize a larger problem is a bit of stretch.


Last edited by turrible: 09-16-2008 at 11:38 AM.
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09-16-2008, 12:18 PM
  #617
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While I do agree that there seems to be some communication issues, Nikulin needs to take matters into his own hands. It should be obvious to any professional athlete, particularily one who has not made the "big" team that any camp or tournament is an opportunity to show what you can do and that you are better suited/more prepared/more deserving for/of an NHL role than other players. This "given the opportunity" from a rookie is crap, I understand it more from someone like Vermette, but from a guy with two career games? The opportunity is there, it has been given, you're at camp, you're at the tourney, you need to go out and take matters into your own hands.

Winchester is on a one way contract and he's still busting his balls.

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09-16-2008, 12:24 PM
  #618
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Unexpectedly for myself Im back in the prospects camp. Perhaps its customary in the NHL to put a player in a difficult situation to see how he handles it. Im able to take it, but to be honest I was counting on a bit more. After all, I was a prospect last year.
To me this indicates a clear lack of communication. I haven't gone back to check, but in one of his first blogs he mentioned something about how he heard the Sens organization doesn't treat their Russian players properly. Whether that is right or wrong, the Sens have enough Russians prospects that they should be doing everything they can to make these guys believe that coming to North America and playing in the organization is the best thing for them.

I've mentioned this before but I really think having an assistant/associate coach, or trainer, or anyone that is Russian in the Ottawa or Bingo management would go a very long way in motivating guys like Zubov and Nikulin to stick around. It may also convice guys like Mirnov, Lyamin, Baskkirov, and Anikeyenko to come across the pond and give the Sens a chance. With the KHL this isn't likely to occur, but having at least a couple of these guys would be awesome.

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09-16-2008, 12:26 PM
  #619
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MuffinMan15 View Post
To me this indicates a clear lack of communication. I haven't gone back to check, but in one of his first blogs he mentioned something about how he heard the Sens organization doesn't treat their Russian players properly. Whether that is right or wrong, the Sens have enough Russians prospects that they should be doing everything they can to make these guys believe that coming to North America and playing in the organization is the best thing for them.

I've mentioned this before but I really think having an assistant/associate coach, or trainer, or anyone that is Russian in the Ottawa or Bingo management would go a very long way in motivating guys like Zubov and Nikulin to stick around. It may also convice guys like Mirnov, Lyamin, Baskkirov, and Anikeyenko to come across the pond and give the Sens a chance. With the KHL this isn't likely to occur, but having at least a couple of these guys would be awesome.
Usually teams with coaches on the payroll like that tend to have them as former players... have we ever had a relationship with a russian player that didn't go south?

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09-16-2008, 12:31 PM
  #620
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caeldan View Post
Usually teams with coaches on the payroll like that tend to have them as former players... have we ever had a relationship with a russian player that didn't go south?
How about that Yashin fella' ?

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09-16-2008, 12:41 PM
  #621
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Zubov is the new Nikulin...

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09-16-2008, 12:42 PM
  #622
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Now the other thing I'm wondering - and this isn't a hit on 35.. but perhaps there's a tone of something lost in the translation?

Like we're taking 'unexpectedly' to mean that he's seeing it as a chore. I don't know Russian at all, but is it perhaps just a best fit word there (because there wasn't a proper russian/english translation) - rather than the one that would be able to convey the emotion implied with the original russian word?

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09-16-2008, 12:45 PM
  #623
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caeldan View Post
Now the other thing I'm wondering - and this isn't a hit on 35.. but perhaps there's a tone of something lost in the translation?

Like we're taking 'unexpectedly' to mean that he's seeing it as a chore. I don't know Russian at all, but is it perhaps just a best fit word there (because there wasn't a proper russian/english translation) - rather than the one that would be able to convey the emotion implied with the original russian word?
I just read the original entry (the one in Russian), and he definitely seems surprised and somewhat disappointed. It's noticeable in the title, and the tone of the first two paragraphs.

Later on he does say that he wants to prove himself, but it seems like he's doing it as a favour to the Sens
and not to himself.

Random Note: Just read some of the comments on the blog, and the CSKA fans are asking him to give up and not bother wasting his time here and come back to Russia.

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09-16-2008, 01:15 PM
  #624
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With the agreement between the KHL and the NHL, I don't believe that going back to Russia is an option for Nikulin until his contract is up after this season. I don't see room at the present time on the Sens, so I think, as some have suggested, that a trade might the way to go here.

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09-16-2008, 01:43 PM
  #625
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caeldan View Post
Now the other thing I'm wondering - and this isn't a hit on 35.. but perhaps there's a tone of something lost in the translation?

Like we're taking 'unexpectedly' to mean that he's seeing it as a chore. I don't know Russian at all, but is it perhaps just a best fit word there (because there wasn't a proper russian/english translation) - rather than the one that would be able to convey the emotion implied with the original russian word?
I wrote last year when I just started doing these translations that I was trying to stick to as close to a literal translation as possible because I didn't want to put words into Nikulin's mouth. So the sentence, as I translated it (please bear in mind I'm not a professional translator), is: "Unexpectedly for myself I’m back in the prospects camp." Perhaps that should be "at the prospects camp," but that's of no real consequence. The original Russian reads as follows: "Неожиданно, прежде всего, для себя, я снова в лагере новичков." The first words in both languages mean the same thing, you can check this online dictionary. In my translations I strive to retain the tone and meaning of Nikulin's words, that's my main objective. I may take some very tiny creative license, but it never changes the meaning; it's due to the fact that literal translation sometimes doesn't work. But such cases are pretty rare actually, which is why the blog doesn't read exactly "English" if you know what I mean.

And "unexpectedly" means "unexpectedly" - nothing in the word to imply a "chore." He's surprised, because this wasn't what he expected to encounter once he arrived in Ottawa.


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