January 21, 2001
The Next Generation
on earth has never heard the expression the “Next Generation” in a
popular TV ad? The world has just celebrated the new millennium and is
passionately waiting for new changes to come in different spheres of human
life. Sport has always been an essential part of human’s life and I hope
it will remain the conqueror of many souls. Ice Hockey has considerably
improved in many ways during the last decade. Now it has lots of different
leagues all over the world with its own well or poorly organized
structures. Of course this depends upon the country where it is played. In
Russia there are at least three good leagues. Super league, Higher league
and Junior league for the kids of different ages. Those kids born in the
80’s grew-up in a difficult time of transition from Soviet to Russian
hockey. They haven’t seen onto the ice in action such crafty and
skillful players as Makarov-Larionov-Krutov and Mogilny-Fedorov-Bure. Many
of them have left the country for the numerous wealthy North American and
European leagues. It has meant that there was nobody left in the Russian
Hockey Championships to learn from except for faithful to the sport
coaches. The best players like Fetisov, Makarov-Larionov and
Mogilny-Fedorov-Bure has left to discover and conquer the new North
American hockey world with its own traditions and many difficulties which
they had to overcome in the process of North Americanization.
there are already Russian youngsters of the “Next Generation” who
shine in the NHL and some of them are ready to join world’s best league.
Let’s try to picture the portrait of Russian kid who represents the
“Next Generation”. To do this I’ve cought up with a couple of
Russian-based NHL draftees. One of the recent has been the forward of
Krylia Soviets Sergey Soin.
many guys of the same age he has been enlisted at the neighboring hockey
school at the age of six. When asked about the players he wants to
resemble he diplomatically and wisely answers, “There is none. I want to
be myself just Sergey Soin with my own merits and shortcomings.
Unfortunately I haven’t yet seen superb players in action here because
they all play in the NHL. So it’s difficult to borrow something new and
interesting into my nature given arsenal.” Some people may think that
it’s a little bit arrogant of such a young player to speak in this way
but nothing of the kind.
what scouts think of Sergey, “He has
played every position except goaltender over the past two seasons. Played
defense for Russia at the Under-18 World Championships but is projected as
a winger at the NHL level, if he makes it that far. Might be the
skater available although some scouts question his offensive upside. Used
in penalty-killing situations, largely because of his ability to read the
Very impressive don’t you think so?
the coming of glasnost and democracy in Russia nearly every player got to
know such words as scout, agent and terms of contract. Current Russian NHL
millionaires have opened up the eyes to the talented youngsters on the
well-to-do life. Now Russian guys know its real value and I’ll tell you
more; they learn already here how to talk to the representatives of mass
media. That means nothing personal (how, with whom and where he likes to
spend his time) quite in the North American style but nobody will reproach
them in ignorance. They may easily burden any reporter with lots of
interesting hockey stuff. It may be two hours’ talk about everything and
nothing at the same time. Of course it depends upon the person. Those guys
who are the natives of Siberian cities are more communicable and
open-hearted on the background of Moscovites. The last ones prefer laconic
and dry answers.
I’ve met Sergey Soin of Krylia Soviets Moscow I’ve been greatly
surprised by some of his answers. For example when I asked about his
impressions of the 2000 Entry Draft ceremony in Calgary he hesitantly
said, “No impression at all. Everything is usual.” It has seemed to me
that he goes Canada each day or is playing in the overcrowded NHL arenas
each day. Yes, he has been playing at the international tournaments for
different age teams, including national squad, touring the North America
but I couldn’t expect of the youngster to be so cool.
asked how often NHL representatives communicate with him and what they are
usually interested in to hear about him he commented, “I have an agent
and it’s his business to communicate with them mine is to demonstrate
solid play. Each day I try to progress.”
thought for a long time why his speech is so laconic and dry and realized
that this “Next Generation” to which Sergey Soin belongs is more
educated and free-thinking than that of the Soviet generation of players.
They know there is no need to run away from the country to make your dream
of NHL come true. They are all knowledgeable about the agents with good
and bad reputation.
the player of the ‘Next Generation’ is first of all a skillful and
hard-working one. He is wise and never does a thing without having a
consultation with his agent on this or that matter.
HockeyZonePlus' Russian Correspondent