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A statistical breakdown of Helmuts Balderis' career

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02-28-2011, 12:31 PM
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Triffy
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A statistical breakdown of Helmuts Balderis' career

I was wondering for a while why Helmuts Balderis hadn't been picked in the ATD. I had a feeling he was criminally underrated. However, I hadn't taken a closer look at his career ever so I decided to see how good he actually was.

This study takes a look at Helmuts Balderis' prime years (1974/75 - 1984/85). His prime is broken down into three parts: His first Riga years, the CSKA years and the second Riga years. Both domestic league and international performances are studied.

1 RIGA DAYS (1973/74 - 1976/77)

1.1 Domestic league

1975
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Vladimir Petrov CSKA 34 27 26 53 1.56 0.79 0.76
2 Boris Mikhailov CSKA 35 40 11 51 1.46 1.14 0.31
3 Helmut Balderis Riga 36 34 14 48 1.33 0.94 0.39
4 Vladimir Vikulov CSKA 36 17 23 40 1.11 0.47 0.64
5 Aleksandr Bodunov Krylia 36 31 8 39 1.08 0.86 0.22
5 Valeri Kharlamov CSKA 31 15 24 39 1.26 0.48 0.77
x Yuri Lebedev Krylia 36 19 17 36 1.00 0.53 0.47
x Aleksandr Maltsev Dynamo 32 18 16 34 1.06 0.56 0.50

I've added historically significant players who didn't crack the top 5 or 10 (depending on the year) on my Excel spreadsheet. Their rankings are marked 'x'.

As can be seen from the table, Balderis was 3rd in scoring, behind only Petrov and Mikhailov. Kharlamov played fewer games, but he also had a lower PPG-ratio. Balderis was 2nd in goal scoring, behind only Mikhailov, who had two great playmakers in Petrov and Kharlamov helping him. He was the only bright star in his team Dinamo Riga. Eurohockey.net for example does not list any other players for the teamís 1975 roster. It would be interesting to know how much these players played on average during a game. I would assume that because Balderis was by far the best player in his team, his time on ice (TOI) was probably higher than the CSKA playersí, but itís only speculation.

1976
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Viktor Shalimov Spartak 36 28 25 53 1.47 0.78 0.69
2 Aleksandr Yakushev Spartak 36 31 20 51 1.42 0.86 0.56
3 Aleksandr Maltsev Dynamo 29 28 19 47 1.62 0.97 0.66
4 Helmut Balderis Riga 36 31 14 45 1.25 0.86 0.39
5 Vladimir Petrov CSKA 34 22 22 44 1.29 0.65 0.65
x Boris Mikhailov CSKA 36 31 8 39 1.08 0.86 0.22
x Sergei Kapustin Krylia 36 25 13 38 1.06 0.69 0.36
x Valeri Kharlamov CSKA 34 18 18 36 1.06 0.53 0.53
x Vladimir Shadrin Spartak 35 17 18 35 1.00 0.49 0.51

In 1976, Balderis was 4th in scoring. However, he tied for the lead in goals with Mikhailov and Yakushev (LW), who supposedly played on the same line with Shalimov (RW) and Shadrin (C). It must be noted that Dynamo Moscowís Maltsev actually has the most impressive GPG-ratio. Spartak actually won the Soviet championship this season. For a second season in a row, Balderis has a higher assist total than Mikhailov who had much better players to play with.

1977
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Helmut Balderis Riga 35 40 23 63 1.80 1.14 0.66
2 Vladimir Petrov CSKA 35 26 36 62 1.77 0.74 1.03
3 Aleksandr Maltsev Dynamo 33 31 27 58 1.76 0.94 0.82
4 Boris Mikhailov CSKA 34 28 23 51 1.50 0.82 0.68
x Valeri Kharlamov CSKA 21 18 8 26 1.24 0.86 0.38

In 1977 Balderis led the league in goals and points with 40 goals and 63 points in 35 games. He was still the only quality player on Dinamo Riga. After this season, he was acquired to CSKA.

1.2 International

1.2.1 1976 World Championships

For whatever reason, Petrov wasnít a part of the Soviet team. Czechoslovakia won gold and Soviets were 2nd. Martinec was the top scorer with 9 + 11 = 20 points.

Leading Soviet scorers
Rk Player GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Valeri Kharlamov 10 4 10 14 1.40 0.40 1.00
2 Boris Mikhailov 10 7 6 13 1.30 0.70 0.60
3 Helmut Balderis 10 3 7 10 1.00 0.30 0.70
4 Viktor Zhluktov 9 3 5 8 0.89 0.33 0.56

Now that Balderis got to play with better players, his assists totals increased significantly. It must be noted that in international play, assists had been tracked at least since 1932 Olympics, but in Soviet league, I have seen assists regularly awarded since 1974. Itís possible that for example, secondary assists werenít awarded in Soviet league, but thatís again only speculation. Iím fairly confident to say that Spartak successful line Yakushev-Shadrin-Shalimov played together. As far as I know, Zhluktov played centre and would be the most likely candidate to have replaced Petrov. If, and itís likely, Balderis didnít play with Kharlamov and Mikhailov, he was again the most productive player on his line and he also showed that he wasnít a one-dimensional goal scorer.

1.2.2 1976 Canada Cup

The whole Kharlamov-Petrov-Mikhailov line was missing and the Soviets couldnít reach the finals. Balderis scored respectable 5 points in as many games. However, Zhluktov (10 points), Vikulov (7 points) and Maltsev (7 points) were more productive performers for the Soviets.

1.2.3 1977 World Championships
Rk Player GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Vladimir Petrov 10 7 14 21 2.10 0.70 1.40
2 Boris Mikhailov 10 12 7 19 1.90 1.20 0.70
3 Sergei Kapustin 10 9 7 16 1.60 0.90 0.70
4 Valeri Kharlamov 10 9 7 16 1.60 0.90 0.70
5 Helmut Balderis 9 8 7 15 1.67 0.89 0.78
6 Alexander Yakushev 10 7 4 11 1.10 0.70 0.40
7 Alexander Maltsev 8 1 9 10 1.25 0.13 1.13

Balderis scored again at a comparable rate to the other star players of the team. Only Petrov and Mikhailov scored significantly more. Balderis was named to the tournament's all-star team.

2 CSKA DAYS (1977/78 - 1979/80)

2.1 Domestic league

1978
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Vladimir Petrov CSKA 31 28 28 56 1.81 0.90 0.90
2 Boris Mikhailov CSKA 35 32 20 52 1.49 0.91 0.57
3 Yuri Lebedev Krylia 35 19 27 46 1.31 0.54 0.77
4 Vladimir Golikov Dynamo N/A 18 26 44 - - -
5 Valeri Kharlamov CSKA 29 18 24 42 1.45 0.62 0.83
6 Aleksandr Golikov Dynamo N/A 19 19 38 - - -
7 Viktor Shalimov Spartak 36 26 11 37 1.03 0.72 0.31
8 Peter Prirodin Dynamo N/A 20 16 36 - - -
9 Helmut Balderis CSKA 36 17 17 34 0.94 0.47 0.47
10 Vladimir Vikulov CSKA 34 12 22 34 1.00 0.35 0.65

During the first year in CSKA, Balderis became the most important secondary scorer on the team, which was to be expected. However, as a consequence of his supposedly decreased TOI, his total production decreased in comparison to rest of the league.

1979
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Vladimir Petrov CSKA 43 26 37 63 1.47 0.60 0.86
2 Peter Prirodin Dynamo 44 32 30 62 1.41 0.73 0.68
3 Boris Mikhailov CSKA 43 30 24 54 1.26 0.70 0.56
4 Aleksandr Golikov Dynamo 37 31 22 53 1.43 0.84 0.59
5 Aleksandr Volchkov CSKA 44 28 20 48 1.09 0.64 0.45
5 Helmut Balderis CSKA 41 24 24 48 1.17 0.59 0.59
5 Valeri Kharlamov CSKA 41 22 26 48 1.17 0.54 0.63
x Sergei Makarov CSKA 44 18 21 39 0.89 0.41 0.48

Aleksandr Volchkov was some kind of a one-year wonder as he would never again reach even 30 points after this. Itís likely that he played with Balderis and either Kapustin or Makarov. Balderis was again CSKAís most productive offensive player behind the famous Kharlamov-Petrov-Mikhailov line, and he actually scored at exactly similar pace as Kharlamov. Prirodin who had several good years in Soviet league also had his best year in 1979. Same thing with Golikov.

1980
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Sergei Makarov CSKA 44 29 39 68 1.55 0.66 0.89
2 Helmut Balderis CSKA 42 26 35 61 1.45 0.62 0.83
3 Viktor Shalimov Spartak 44 34 19 53 1.20 0.77 0.43
4 Mikhail Varnakov Gorki 44 30 20 50 1.14 0.68 0.45
5 Boris Mikhailov CSKA 41 27 23 50 1.22 0.66 0.56
x Vladimir Krutov CSKA 40 30 12 42 1.05 0.75 0.30
x Vladimir Petrov CSKA 32 21 20 41 1.28 0.66 0.63
x Vyacheslav Anisin CSKA 41 12 28 40 1.08 0.31 0.78
x Aleksandr Maltsev Dynamo 36 11 28 39 0.90 0.38 0.52
x Valeri Kharlamov CSKA 42 16 22 38 0.90 0.38 0.52

This is the beginning of Makarovís dominance. I find this yearís scoring table very interesting because there are so many possible line combinations. Did Kharlamov-Petrov-Mikhailov play together? Were Makarov and Krutov already playing on a same line? Or did Makarov and Balderis play together, one of them playing left wing? Despite having his best season yet in CSKA, Balderis returned to Dinamo Riga next season because of reasons which Iím unaware of.

2.2 International

2.2.1 1978 World Championships
Rk Player GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Alexander Maltsev 10 5 8 13 1.30 0.50 0.80
2 Boris Mikhailov 10 9 3 12 1.20 0.90 0.30
3 Helmut Balderis 10 9 2 11 1.10 0.90 0.20
4 Sergei Kapustin 10 6 5 11 1.10 0.60 0.50
5 Vladimir Golikov 10 7 3 10 1.00 0.70 0.30
6 Valeri Kharlamov 10 4 5 9 0.90 0.40 0.50
7 Viktor Zhluktov 9 3 5 8 0.89 0.33 0.56

In this tournament Marcel Dionne was selected the best forward with 9 + 3 = 12 points in 10 games. Again, Balderis scored at similar rate to his team mates, sharing the goal scoring lead in the tournament with Mikhailov and Dionne. Kapustin was selected to the all-star team instead of Balderis. Balderis scored 3 goals against the silver medal team Czechoslovakia in 2 games, including a goal in the 3-1 final win, so itís not like he would have padded his stats against weaker opponents.

2.2.2 1979 World Championships
Rk Player GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Vladimir Petrov 8 7 8 15 1.88 0.88 1.00
2 Valeri Kharlamov 8 7 7 14 1.75 0.88 0.88
3 Boris Mikhailov 8 4 8 12 1.50 0.50 1.00
4 Sergei Makarov 8 8 4 12 1.50 1.00 0.50
5 Aleksandr Golikov 8 5 7 12 1.50 0.63 0.88
6 Helmut Balderis 8 4 5 9 1.13 0.50 0.63
7 Vladimir Gulikov 8 1 7 8 1.00 0.13 0.88

Makarov was starting to break through and had already taken Balderisí place as the gold medal winning Sovietís most important secondary scorer in 1979. It would be unfair to call it a disappointment as Balderis scored at above 1 PPG rate, but this tournament certainly wasnít one of Balderisí greatest legacy builders.

2.2.3 1980 Olympic Games

At least Aleksandr Golikov (13 points), Makarov, Mikhailov, Kharlamov and Krutov (11 points each) scored more points than Balderis (9 points). Again he was a productive player but not on a key role. Only once more (1983 World championships) after this tournament would Balderis play for the Soviets in a competitive tournament.

3 RIGA DAYS (1980/81 - 1984/85)

3.1 Domestic league

1981
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Sergei Makarov CSKA 49 42 37 79 1.61 0.86 0.76
2 Sergei Kapustin Spartak 44 36 25 61 1.39 0.82 0.57
3 Nikolai Drozdetsky CSKA 44 30 28 58 1.32 0.68 0.64
3 Valeri Belousov Chelyabinsk N/A 23 35 58 - - -
5 Viktor Zhlutkov CSKA 49 29 26 55 1.12 0.59 0.53
6 Viktor Shalimov Spartak 47 21 32 53 1.13 0.45 0.68
7 Helmut Balderis Riga 44 26 24 50 1.14 0.59 0.55
8 Sergei Shepelev Spartak N/A 28 20 48 - - -
9 Igor Larionov Voskresensk 43 22 23 45 1.10 0.48 0.63
10 Vladimir Petrov CSKA 40 19 25 44 1.10 0.48 0.63

I think this can be seen as some kind of an off-year for Balderis. He was again the best player on his team, getting the most ice time. He shouldnít be expected to match Makarovís scoring level, but several more players outscored him, as well. His production drop probably explains his absence from the national team this season.

1982
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Sergei Makarov CSKA 46 32 43 75 1.63 0.70 0.93
2 Aleksandr Kozhevnikov Spartak N/A 43 28 71 - - -
3 Vladimir Krutov CSKA 46 37 29 66 1.43 0.80 0.63
4 Viktor Shalimov Spartak 47 27 32 59 1.26 0.57 0.68
5 Igor Larionov CSKA 46 31 22 53 1.15 0.67 0.48
6 Sergei Kapustin Spartak 38 30 22 52 1.37 0.79 0.58
7 Viktor Tyumenev Spartak N/A 21 29 50 - - -
8 Aleksandr Orlov Spartak N/A 11 39 50 - - -
9 Nikolai Drozdetsky CSKA 46 28 16 44 1.05 0.59 0.46
10 Helmut Balderis Riga 41 24 19 43 1.05 0.59 0.46

Again, a good season from Balderis, but nothing that would increase his legacy.

1983
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Helmut Balderis Riga 40 32 31 63 1.58 0.80 0.78
2 Aleksandr Kozhevnikov Spartak 43 35 22 57 1.33 0.81 0.51
3 Vladimir Krutov CSKA 44 32 21 53 1.20 0.73 0.48
4 Aleksandr Skvortsov Gorki 44 27 20 47 1.07 0.61 0.45 
5 Igor Orlov Spartak 44 22 23 45 1.02 0.50 0.52
6 Vyacheslav Bykov CSKA 44 22 22 44 1.00 0.50 0.50
7 Peter Prirodin Riga 45 22 21 43 0.96 0.49 0.47
8 Aleksei Frolikov Riga N/A 30 12 42 - - -
9 Sergei Makarov CSKA 30 25 17 42 1.40 0.83 0.57

Suddenly Balderis jumps back at the top of the pack. For the first time he had decent linemates in Riga and he immediately ran away with the scoring title. I think this is extremely impressive season from Balderis because even Makarov couldnít match his PPG rate. Note that Balderis had the most assists during this season (Viktor Tyumenev was 2nd with 26). The great season earned Balderis once more a spot in the national team.

1984
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Sergei Makarov CSKA 44 36 37 73 1.66 0.82 0.84
2 Vladimir Krutov CSKA 44 37 20 57 1.30 0.84 0.45
3 Nikolai Drozdetsky CSKA 44 31 20 51 1.16 0.70 0.45
4 Vyacheslav Fetisov CSKA 44 19 30 49 1.11 0.43 0.68
5 Aleksandr Kozhevnikov Spartak 33 33 14 47 1.42 1.00 0.42
6 Viktor Shalimov Spartak 44 24 21 45 1.02 0.55 0.48
7 Valeri Bragin Voskresensk N/A 19 26 45 - - -
8 Sergei Kapustin Spartak 41 22 21 43 1.05 0.54 0.51
9 Sergei Shepelev Spartak 44 21 21 42 0.95 0.48 0.48
10 Igor Larionov CSKA 43 15 26 41 0.95 0.35 0.60
x Helmut Balderis Riga 39 24 15 39 1.00 0.62 0.38

For the first time in this study, the 32-year-old Balderis didnít crack in to the top 10, although he was close.

1985
Rk Player Team GP G A PTS PTS/GP G/GP A/GP
1 Sergei Makarov CSKA 40 26 39 65 1.63 0.65 0.98
2 Vladimir Krutov CSKA 40 23 30 53 1.33 0.58 0.75
3 Helmut Balderis Riga 39 31 20 51 1.31 0.79 0.51
4 Vladimir Zubrilchev Dynamo N/A 23 24 47 - - -
5 Igor Larionov CSKA 40 18 28 46 1.15 0.45 0.70
6 Sergei Abramov Izhvesk N/A 16 23 39 - - -
7 Viktor Shalimov Spartak 49 16 22 38 0.78 0.33 0.45
8 Sergei Shepelev Spartak N/A 21 16 37 - - -
9 Aleksei Kasatonov CSKA 40 18 18 36 0.90 0.45 0.45
10 Valeri Bragin Voskresensk N/A 14 22 36 - - -

In his final season, Balderis was the leading goal scorer for the third time in his career. His 51 points was the 3rd highest total during the season.

3.2 International

3.2.1 1983 World Championships

The 1983 tournament all-star team tells the story quite well: Tretiak; Kasatonov-Fetisov; Krutov-Larionov-Makarov. The 5 man unit included the 5 best scorers of Soviet Union. Makarov had 18, Krutov 15, Larionov 12, Kasatonov 11 and Fetisov 10 points. Once again Balderis was the leading secondary scorer of the Soviets with 9 points in 10 games and put up as many points as for example Marcel Dionne.

4 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

4.1 Domestic league

Scoring title x 2 (1977, 1983)
Most goals x 3 (1976, 1977, 1985)
Most assists (1983)

Balderis had very high peak. At his best, he could outscore even Makarov or Petrov. He was an effective player for 10 seasons, starting from 1974/75 and ending in 1985. For the most part of his career, Balderis played with lesser players and was capable of raising their point totals. He was a brilliant goalscorer. In addition to the goal scoring titles, he finished 2nd in 1975 and 1983. He was also capable of using his linemates. He was 2nd in assists in 1980, second only to Makarov.

4.2 International

All-star team (1977)
Leading goal-scorer (1978)

Balderisí international resume is a bit disappointing for a player with his Soviet league resume. He was never the best player in national team. He was always in a secondary scorer role. However, his career overlapped with both Petrovís line and Larionovís line. His most impressive international tournament was probably in 1977. In 1978 he was the leading goal scorer of the tournament along with Mikhailov and Dionne. But even if Balderis wasnít the leading player on his team, he was almost always the best secondary scorer in the national team.

Overall, I think Balderis should be viewed as a step or two below Kharlamov, Mikhailov and Petrov. Maltsev probably had the better career of the two as well, mainly because his great international resume. However, Balderis has a fantastic skill set: he's known as perhaps the fastest Soviet skater ever, he was a great goal scorer and decent playmaker. He was also capable of elevating his linemates' level. I think this study reveals that Balderis has been undervalued to some extent up to this point in the ATD.


Last edited by Triffy: 02-28-2011 at 01:02 PM.
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02-28-2011, 12:44 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Good stuff, as always.

During the ATD, when I looked at Balderis' career (in much less detail than you did), my first impression was that he should probably be viewed as close to equal to Starshinov, just a little bit below Maltsev, but probably ahead of Yakushev.

You did a great job of fleshing out the player in much more detail, though.

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02-28-2011, 12:55 PM
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Also, what do you think of this (from Joe Pelletier). It definitely explains why Balderis was returned to Riga, if nothing else. Might also explain why he did worse than expected on the national team.

Quote:
A proud Latvian, Balderis was one of the few non-Russians on the national team. Not that he necessarily wanted to be there.

There was great political divide between the two societies under communist rule, with the Latvians none too happy with Russia. So when the Soviet hockey authorities transferred Balderis (and a coach named Viktor Tikhonov) from Dynamo Riga, where he quickly became a living legend, to CSKA Moscow "in the interests of the national team," there was no shortage of outrage.

Balderis had no choice in the matter, but he played for the national team in a curious fashion. He would put on amazing displays of individualistic skills and rushes, almost toying with opposition, but would rarely score.

As the great book Kings of the Ice suggests, "it was his way of saying to the authorities, 'You forced me to be here, so you get what you deserve."

"I can get away with it on CSKA. If I don't score, Mikhailov, Petrov or Kharlamov will," Balderis added.

The Balderis experiment with the Red Army team lasted only three years, from 1977 through 1980 before he was returned to Riga, and for all intents and purposes dropped from the national team.

Despite his short tenure in Moscow he earned quite the resume. He was part of three consecutive world championship teams, winning the best forward award in 1977. He won the Olympic silver medal in 1980, and was part of the Soviet team that hammered the NHL all stars at the 1979 Challenge Cup tournament.

After the Russians failed 1980 Olympics Balderis was returned to Riga where he starred until 1985. He saved his best for games against CSKA, of course. Balderis was one rare shooter who seemed to have solved the great Vladislav Tretiak, shooting from further out than most shooters, and with good success.

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02-28-2011, 01:00 PM
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Reds4Life
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It's worth noting that Balderis was Latvian and he despised Soviets. It often seemed like he does not score on purpose (to protest - he was forced to play for the Soviet team), despite toying with the opposition.

edit: TDMM beat me to it

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02-28-2011, 01:39 PM
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Triffy
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Thanks for the input. I was almost sure I had read something like that before, but just didn't remember where, and I knew that you guys would come up with it anyway so I didn't bother searching for it

I think the fact that Balderis was transferred to CSKA (and selected to national team) against his will signifies that Balderis probably was capable of doing even more. I think it's good to know. It tells us a bit about how he was as a person. However, I'm not sure how that affects his legacy. He proved himself anyway. If he really was dropped from the national team because he returned to Riga, it's unfair to hold his absence from the national team against him. However, as my study revealed, his domestic league play wasn't suggesting that he absolutely should have been in national team in 1981 and 1982. Based on numbers, it's somewhat understandable why he was left off the team. There were simply more players who had better years than him. However, in 1985 he definitely had a season that would have been worth a spot on the national team.

I don't believe the part about him toying with opposition, especially in competitive games. I can picture him 'toying', that is, outskating and stickhandling past weaker opponents and then, instead of scoring, unsuccessfully finishing the play because he couldn't bury it. I don't believe anyone chooses not to score.

When doing the study, I found Yakushev's numbers to be surprisingly good. I've always felt he's terribly overrated here because of a couple of good games against Canada, but he also had some success in Soviet league. I still think he's overrated, and should definitely be viewed as a worse player than Balderis, for example.

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02-28-2011, 01:50 PM
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Maybe he wouldn't be Balderis if he didn't wear those sweaty Helmuts all the time

BAHAHAHAHAHAH

HA

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02-28-2011, 05:55 PM
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tony d
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Really good player, someone that had been on my radar in the ATD. Didn't get him unfortunately but an all around good player.

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03-01-2011, 09:34 AM
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I'm just doubting that leaders/no-BS guys like Mikhailov, Petrov and Tsygankov would have had any sympathy/tolerance for Balderis, if they felt that Balderis wasn't giving 100 percent on the national team. I don't remember Tikhonov saying anything about the subject in his book either. Deliberately missing scoring chances etc.? I'm not necessarily buying it.

I just think that it was Balderis-like to be an 'artist' and maybe a slightly selfish player; a bit like Matti 'MŲlli' Keinonen in Finland (known as very skilled but not maybe the greatest team player).

OP, great work.


Last edited by VMBM: 03-01-2011 at 09:49 AM.
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