If you've been reading this site for awhile now, you'll know that Senators prospect Alex Nikulin has been writing his own blog (in Russian) and a member of HF Boards named ThirtyFive has been translating them for everyone. His entries are usually a good read as the earnest youngster describes trying to get used to life in North America while learning the language and getting homesick.
This time, I wonder if Nikulin may have said too much. Here is his most recent blog entry and you can judge for yourself. The Bingo coach by the way is Cory Clouston.
"In America, one day it’s cold, another day it’s hot. January 13, 2008.
The main holiday in America is Christmas. We had three whole days off, all practices were cancelled, and my girlfriend Natalya and I spent all this time in New York. We took walks, did some shopping, went to restaurants. It’s true that they say it’s the capital of the world. Crazy traffic, a lot of people. All this reminds me of Moscow. I liked Manhattan the most. When you’re standing next to the skyscrapers, it’s an unforgettable feeling. Or when you’re driving across the bridge late at night. Everything’s illuminated, beautiful.
If not for Natalya, I’d have trouble with all the problems in life. No, nothing very tough, but still the monotonous lifestyle is tiresome. Road trips are ordinary, two-three hours by bus, the game, the trip back. The city is small, there’s nothing to do. Natalya also gets a little lonesome, especially when I’m on the road or at practice.
She goes to the games, she likes it. Our arena has a box for the wives and girlfriends of the players near the GM’s box. So she watches the games from there. Got acquainted with the wives of other players. For instance, with the companion of our tough guy Jeremy Yablonski. Natasha also helps me with my English. And I’m still earnestly learning the language.
We celebrated New Year’s Eve with the whole team. Got together at a restaurant on the 31st and welcomed the New Year with the chime of a clock. I can’t compare this to celebrating this holiday in Russia. We never celebrated New Year’s Eve together with the CSKA. I’ve heard this year they also did not get together for a team party, although all the other Superleague teams had something like that for their players. But there were no gifts at our party. What gifts could there be with our kind of playing? But that’s another topic.
The weather is strange here. When we were in New York, it was real Russian winter there, about -15. But it’s not always like that. During December the temperature went as high as +10. I don’t understand it.
Hockey-wise, it’s not very good so far. I don’t remember when I last scored a goal. Some sort of a decline. Or just bad luck. There are chances, I shoot a lot. But the puck goes in the wrong direction. One time I was taking a penalty shot, and, if you can imagine, the puck bounced off both goal posts and flew back out. And it’s like this all the time; if it’s not one thing, it’s another. I’m thinking perhaps I should just shoot it blind. Then it’ll go in. So for now I only score during the pre-game skate.
Our hockey is like this. Can’t fault the goalie in the losses, he plays excellent, dragging us along. But the defense is a real disaster. Once the opponent starts pressuring a little, right away there’s panic. All the pucks go along the boards back and forth. And you know what’s weird? The defenseman comes out from behind the net, sees that on one side he’s got our own player, and on the other side two opposing players. And he’ll still shoot it towards where there’s a battle. Like a robot. And it repeats on and on. Why not look around, see who’s open, and pass there! You must be calm and collected. Otherwise chaos ensues. Everyone runs around screaming. What are you screaming for? That irritates many. The coach, however, approves of all this. You dump the puck along the boards—well done, you’re commended.
So the last game I played on a line with Dimitrakos and Zubov. And we enjoyed playing. We understand everything that needs to be done, no panic. The only trouble is that the lines get constantly shuffled around. Not just from game to game, but during games. I don’t even know what line I’m on. I think I was on the second, but I’m not sure where I ended up.
Good thing health problems are going away. I talked about injuring my wrist before. Well, a few days ago it got back to normal. Prior to that there were unpleasant feelings. That could’ve been a reason for shooting off target. And I’m now the fifth leading scorer on the team. Good thing the plus-minus has gotten better. I’m rarely penalized. Mostly it’s for technical fouls, like pushing someone from behind, things like that.
I don’t participate in fights. I saw the battle between Ak Bars and Traktor. That’s probably impossible here. It’s strictly forbidden to leave the bench. It seems to me Kazan was the instigator in this brawl. They jumped out first.
Here only Jeremy Yablonski fights. He’s a strong guy, he can take it. He’s always got black eyes, walks around all in bandages. But he still calls out someone for a duel during a game. But there haven’t been any bench-clearing brawls.
Some teams have made a very good impression on me. I would point out Pittsburgh as having a very strong team. The best, maybe. In the second place I’d put Toronto’s farm team. Anaheim’s farm team displays the prettiest hockey. It’s all in the passing, well-trained. Real European hockey. They just tore us up in our zone.
No news out of Ottawa yet. Too bad, of course, but I’m not getting discouraged. "