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Don Cherry dreaded this: The Russians are here to dominate and they've got the numbers

Mike Olivson   ·   13 février 2020
The debut of depth defenceman Alexander Yelesin for the Calgary Flames, on Wednesday night, was likely overlooked by the vast majority of fans outside of Calgary. Except, perhaps in Russia.

HOCKEY - QUIZ
Who won the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded to the player who demonstrated a high level of persistence, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey in 1995?
ALEXANDER MOGILNY
BERNIE NICHOLLS
BRETT HULL
CAM NEELY
MARK MESSIER
PAT LAFONTAINE


Yelesin, the first Russian player to suit up for the Flames since Anton Babchuk ended his NHL career there in 2012-13, became the 47th Russian player to play in an NHL game this season. That number sets the record for the salary cap era. 46 Russians played in the NHL in 2005-2006 season, and that record may be shattered in the coming years. Indeed, Andrei Chibisov is a day or two away from making his NHL debut for the Winnipeg Jets, after a recent call-up from the Manitoba Moose.

At this point, the Russians are the fourth biggest demographic among NHL players. Only Canadians, Americans, and the Swedes are more represented. And while players like Yelesin, Yakov Trenin of Nashville, and Evgeny Svechnikov of Detroit are depth fill-ins who see the occasional game here and there, the others are impact players. Andrei Vasilevsky looks to be leading the Vezina Trophy race, Alex Ovechkin will need to overcome a bit of competition but is still one of the favorites for the Maurice Richard Trophy, and Artemi Panarin has turned Broadway into Breadway as he contends for the Hart Trophy.

Meanwhile, Ilya Mikheyev of Toronto fell behind in the Calder race only on account of his injury, while Ilya Samsonov and Igor Shesterkin are establishing themselves as worthy reinforcements for Vasilevskiy and Bobrovsky among the goaltending elite. The last Russian-less team to win a Stanley Cup were the 2015 Blackhawks.

In a way, it may be fitting that the last bastion of the Cold War mentality in the NHL, the great Don Cherry, was let go this season. This particular statistic would not make him happy.



For his part, Yelesin took his role as more than a historical footnote. Speaking to Andrey Zhdanyuk of Sport Express after his debut, Yelesin said: "I understand, in a sense, that I am responsible for more than myself. I'm from Russia, and people may look at me as an example because people might assume that all Russians are the same."

Source: Sport24.ru
Will the number of Russians playing the NHL continue to increase in the coming years?
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Which scenario would you prefer if the NHL season restart?
END OF REGULAR SEASON + PLAYOFFS
IMMEDIATELY PLAYOFFS WITH 16 TEAMS
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HOCKEY - QUIZ
Who won the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded to the player who demonstrated a high level of persistence, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey in 1995?
ALEXANDER MOGILNY
BERNIE NICHOLLS
BRETT HULL
CAM NEELY
MARK MESSIER
PAT LAFONTAINE
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