On Pashnin’s decision to remain in Russia
Tuesday August 09th 2011, 11:12 pm

A day after it was announced that 22-year old defenseman Mikhail Pashnin had decided not to sign with the New York Rangers, opting instead to extend his contract with CSKA Moscow of the KHL for two more years, his agent Alexei Dementiev explained the decision to Sovietsky Sport reporter Vladislav Domrachev:

We couldn’t come to a quick agreement on the terms of the contract with New York. The two-way contract didn’t suit us — Mikhail would hardly progress on the farm club. The negotiations dragged on, and as time passed it became necessary to start preparing for the season. So we we decided to stay with CSKA for two years.  Especially since [CSKA] has a new head coach, Julius Shupler, who loves tough, aggressive hockey.  And the team that’s been put together is very interesting, capable of doing great things.  On such a team Pashnin could make his way on to the national team and play at the Olympics in Sochi.  In fact the new head coach of the national team, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, himself once a notable defenseman, knows the value of guys like Mikhail.

It’s easy to boil Pashnin’s decision not to sign with the Rangers down to “he didn’t want a two-way deal,” but let’s think about this:  Dementiev’s not stupid.  A former scout for the Nashville Predator’s who represents other players and prospects with NHL interests, he had to have known the Rangers couldn’t have offered Pashnin a one-way deal if they wanted to, thanks to the entry level contract provisions set forth in the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.  So the question becomes: did the young defenseman have  a change of heart, or was this all a ruse by Dementiev to extract a better offer from CSKA?

Either option is plausible.  It’s impossible to dismiss the public criticism leveled by Viacheslav Fetisov towards Pashnin’s decision to leave for North America.  In addition to being CSKA’s president, Fetisov is also an extremely influential man in Russian hockey circles.  A word from him in your favor could open doors that would be otherwise closed to you in your career.  Conversely, making him your enemy could be akin to performing career suicide.  It seems an unlikely coincidence that what appeared to be a done deal suddenly became “no deal” the day after Fetisov’s comments were published.  Imagine the pressure that could placed on a young, middle-tier hockey player by suggesting he wouldn’t have  a job to come back to if he left for the NHL and failed to fulfill his dream.  Or the influence that could be levied with the mere suggestion that a good word could be placed in your favor with the man picking the roster for the 2012 Olympics in Sochi…

On the other hand, maybe it was never Pashnin’s intention to come to North America this year in the first place.  Dementiev had to realize the Rangers blueline is already packed with talent and, more importantly, one-way contracts.  Perhaps his negotiations with the Rangers and decision to withhold his client from start of CSKA’s training camp were nothing more than leverage in negotiations for a better deal with CSKA.  If so, it would appear everything went to plan.  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time an agent played one league off against the other, and it definitely won’t be the last.

Regardless, just as it was foolish to expect Pashnin to challenge for a spot on the Rangers blueline this fall, it would be foolish to write him off completely because he’s chosen to spend two more years in Russia.  At 22, Pashnin still has plenty of room to grow as a hockey player, and he’ll be given ample opportunity to do that with CSKA.


Nemchinov on Pashnin:

After long and complex negotiations, we managed to convince the player and his agent to extend his contract with our club.  It’s a little early for Mikhail to leave for the NHL.  He played unevenly last season.  In the middle of the season he even lost his place on the roster, started making frequent mistakes.  But at the end of the season he was successful.  Pashnin even developed a taste for scoring goals.  And in the MHL playoffs he played brilliantly.

Dementiev on Pashnin:

Mikhail possesses excellent skating, which he is improving with a special trainer, and his ability to throw hits can be envied not only in Russia, but overseas. Pashnin went to the Rangers development camp a year ago, and this summer.  Everyone there was delighted with him.  The team’s general manager Glen Sather, who in the 80’s coached the legendary Edmonton [Oilers], couldn’t hide his admiration:  “Your defenseman has forced our guys to play with their heads up, because when they lowered them for a moment, they immediately found themselves on the ice after his hit.”

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Fleming recalls Cherepanov’s Death
Sunday July 25th 2010, 1:03 pm

Wayne Fleming’s short and chaotic career as coach of Avangard Omsk was dominated by the death of budding superstar and New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov on October 13, 2008.  Less than three months later, Fleming was on his way back to North America, his Russian coaching experience over after his shattered team faltered in the KHL standings.

Last week Fleming, who’s résumé includes assistant coaching stints with five different NHL teams as well Team Canada, was hired as an assistant by the Tampa Bay Lightning.  St. Petersburg Times writer Damian Christodero took some time to get to know the newest member of the revamped Lightning coaching staff, and their conversation focused on Fleming’s experience in Russia and Cherepanov’s untimely death.

Is there anything you take from what happened?

From a team perspective, it was like taking a crystal vase and dropping it on the concrete floor and trying to pick up the shattered pieces. It was devastating. But it was the individual, too, that passed away. The thing that really hurts is not only do we lose a great player, we’re missing just a fantastic young man. He had a great smile on his face. He was the golden boy of the KHL.

What do you recall about the incident?

When he first collapsed, there was about five minutes left in the game. It was Jagr who yelled at me and said, “Wayne! Wayne! We need help!” And I looked down, and Jagr was holding Aleksei on his lap on the bench. I could tell right away he was in trouble, and the doctors got to him and wanted to take him off the bench. They applied CPR. All I could think of was, “Oh, my God, no.”

What impact did Aleksei have in Omsk?

This is a city of a million people in the middle of Siberia. When we had the ceremony and the funeral for him, it was in the arena. Prior to that, there was a (viewing) from 11 o’clock in the morning to 1 o’clock. During those two hours, 60,000 people went by his coffin; the youngest was probably 4 to I’d say the late 90s. When they closed the door to start the funeral, there were another 40,000 people estimated waiting who never got to walk by and pay tribute to Aleksei. You’re talking about a town of a million that had over 100,000 people there to pay their respects.

For more from Fleming, see Christodero’s full article at TampaBay.com.

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Monarchs rule Wolf Pack, 4-1
Monday January 18th 2010, 1:04 am

The Hartford Wolf Pack gave up a goal on the first shift of the game, then two more 17 seconds apart in the 10th minute of the first period, allowing the Manchester Monarchs to take a lead they’d never relinquish.

Jordan Owens got the lone goal for the Wolf Pack in the second half of the first period, giving him points in back-to-back games since returning to the line-up from injury.  Evgeny Grachev picked up an assist, giving him his third point in two games this weekend.

The Atlantic Division-leading Monarchs added another goal in the third to complete the scoring at 4-1.

Of greater concern is an apparent head or shoulder injury suffered by P.A. Parenteau during the second period.  The Pack’s second leading scorer was hit awkwardly into the boards by Manchester enforcer Kevin Westgarth midway through the second period and did not return to the game.

We left early in the third period to head into the city for the Rangers game (most fun I’ve had at the Garden all season – thanks boys!) so for the full recap, I leave you with Bob Crawford’s write-up below.

Manchester Monarchs 4, Hartford Wolf Pack 1

Manchester, NH, January 17, 2010 – Corey Elkins had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Bernier made 35 saves, Sunday at the Verizon Wireless Arena, to lead the Manchester Monarchs to a 4-1 Atlantic-Division victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack.

The loss was only the Wolf Pack’s fourth in regulation in the last 15 games (9-4-0-2) and dropped the fourth-place Pack to 22-16-1-4 (49 pts.) on the season.

The Wolf Pack fell behind on the game’s first shift, with Elkins scoring for Manchester at the 36-second mark.  Juraj Mikus pushed the rebound of Andrew Campbell’s point shot in front to Elkins, who slid it past Hartford goaltender Matt Zaba (21 saves).

The Monarchs then upped the lead to 3-0 with a pair of goals in 17 seconds starting at 10:34.  Tom Cavanagh scored a power-play goal to make it 2-0, on a shot from the top of the right circle.  Then, at 10:51, John Zeiler put in a wraparound to make it a three-goal Manchester advantage.

Jordan Owens got the Wolf Pack on the scoreboard at 13:17 with his sixth goal of the year, assisted by Evgeny Grachev and Nigel Williams.  Grachev, headed behind the net, banked the puck off the outside of the goalpost to Owens at the left side of the slot, and Owens beat Bernier over the catching glove.

The Wolf Pack picked up their play significantly in the second period, outshooting Manchester 14-6, but could not solve Bernier, who came into the game with the AHL’s second-best save percentage (93.8) and fifth-best goals-against average (2.05).

The third period also favored Hartford, which enjoyed an 11-3 shots advantage, courtesy of five power plays.  Bernier held strong, however, and Bud Holloway provided the final margin with a goal at 1:04.  From the right-wing side, Holloway snapped a shot into the top corner over Zaba’s catching glove.

The Wolf Pack ended up 0/7 on the power play and fell to 2-3-0-0 in the season series against the Monarchs, who lead the Atlantic Division at 26-13-1-4 for 57 points.

Hartford Wolf Pack 1 At Manchester Monarchs 4
Jan 17, 2010 – Verizon Wireless Arena

Hartford 1 0 0 – 1
Manchester 3 0 1 – 4

1st Period-1, Manchester, Elkins 13 (Mikus, Campbell), 0:36. 2, Manchester, Cavanagh 3 (Kolomatis, Elkins), 10:34 (pp). 3, Manchester, Zeiler 4 (Cliche), 10:51. 4, Hartford, Owens 6 (Grachev, Williams), 13:17. Penalties-Westgarth Mch (interference), 3:03; Williams Hfd (tripping), 10:06; Garlock Hfd (roughing), 16:14; Soryal Hfd (roughing), 16:14; Clune Mch (roughing), 16:14; Nolan Mch (roughing), 16:14; Weise Hfd (hooking), 19:37.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Parenteau Hfd (tripping), 6:26; Parenteau Hfd (roughing), 8:58; Owens Hfd (fighting), 11:34; Clune Mch (fighting), 11:34; Westgarth Mch (boarding), 11:34.

3rd Period-5, Manchester, Holloway 12 (Voynov), 1:04. Penalties-Couture Hfd (fighting), 1:50; Walker Mch (fighting), 1:50; Holloway Mch (tripping), 5:08; Byers Hfd (roughing), 7:18; Voynov Mch (boarding, roughing), 7:18; Weise Hfd (slashing), 9:13; Nolan Mch (cross-checking), 9:13; Nightingale Hfd (fighting), 11:11; Westgarth Mch (elbowing, fighting), 11:11; Kroll Mch (tripping), 15:26; Elkins Mch (slashing), 17:07; Soryal Hfd (slashing), 19:27.

Shots on Goal-Hartford 11-14-11-36. Manchester 16-6-3-25.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 0 of 7; Manchester 1 of 5.
Goalies-Hartford, Zaba 3-4-1 (25 shots-21 saves). Manchester, Bernier 18-10-4 (36 shots-35 saves).
Referees-Ghislain Hebert (49).
Linesmen-Landon Bathe (80), Brian MacDonald (72).

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