October 30, 2007
ThirtyFive has the latest Nikulin Blog translation.
Danny Bois and Greg Amadio, my teammates, are renting a house together. And they decided to invite Ilja Zubov and me over. Asked us what we’d like to eat. We chose beef and shrimp. The guys said okay, and set the time.
Had a good time, a good meal, and watched hockey together. Ilja was more involved in conversation. After all, he has a better grasp on English. I tried saying some things, didn’t shy away, but it’s not coming out that well yet. But we’ve established normal relationships with all the guys on the team.
I was told that during some teams’ practices sometimes even fights happen. We don’t have that. Why do they mostly occur? Somebody played someone else too harshly. Or shot the goalie in the mask, for example. But you come up and apologize, and everything’s fine.
I’m studying English. Remember I was saying how we went to the English lessons and didn’t like it much? Well, it’s all right now. We’re going to the same place, we have no complaints now. We’re being taught what we need. They make us learn a phrase, first by speaking it, then explaining its meaning.
Trying to learn how to write and read. I’m having an easier time reading. They don’t write much about the team here. Well, just report news. By the way, when we arrived in Binghamton the local newspaper printed our photo on the first page. I didn’t save the newspaper, but Ilja Zubov has a copy somewhere. And recently they wrote that a tough guy from the big team we sent down to us. He’s got an arm injury, and he’s recuperating here.
And from our team two guys were sent away, Tomas Kudelka and Jim McKenzie. It happened so fast. They were called in, something was explained to them, and they were gone. For the practice the guys weren’t there. At first I didn’t even notice their absence. Ilja Zubov told me about this later.
Also I want to get back to our trip to Norfolk, the farthest for our team. I have to say, we never even saw our baggage. We don’t carry it around, don’t do anything with it. We get to the locker room, all the stuff is ready. Amazing.
The days are still monotonous. Practice. Then sleep. We go out for dinner someplace, for lunch. But no real entertainment. With my first paycheck that I received October 15 I bought an iPhone. That’s all I really need. Speaking of which, the next payday is October 30. Do I need to say that there are no delays here?
We watch television. Not too closely, it’s there in the background. Although whenever baseball starts, we turn it off. It’s a very boring game. But we do watch football. I still haven’t picked a team for which I could root. I watch impartially. Read news on the Internet, and that’s about it. Whatever is happening in the country, aside from hockey, doesn’t interest me. Why should I worry about unnecessary problems?
My favorite thing to do now is practice. I await them and always participate with great attitude. It’s interesting to me. To be honest, I get a little sad when the practice is over.
I was told they don’t like Russians in the Ottawa system. They were scaring me with this when I was going over. But I have noticed nothing of the sort. You play, you give it your all, and people have an excellent attitude towards you. Perhaps someone had different situations. But I’m happy with everything. The only thing remaining is making it to the NHL.
October 26, 2007
Good article in todays paper reporting on Cody Bass’ progress and his role in the organization.
As a minor hockey player in Guelph, Ontario, Bass said he was putting up 65, 70, 80 points a season. But his role changed, he said, when as a 15 year-old he moved on to the Junior B level, where he arrived to find his team already stocked with scorers like future Cornell standout Matt Moulson.
“I went into that league, and I tried to do stuff that I was trying to do in minor hockey, but I couldn’t do it,” Bass said.
“And then Ken Cook, my coach, just put me in a role where I was an energy guy. And I just started finishing checks, and that’s the way I came into that role.”
It’s a role he’s clearly embraced — “I love to finish checks,” he said. “I love to rough it up here and there” — and he points to the likes of Mike Fisher, Chris Neil and Chris Kelly in Ottawa, or even a Kris Draper in Detroit as players he now looks up to.
“I see him as a role player. I see him as an important guy,” Ottawa assistant general manager Tim Murray said. “You hope he can get to something (like) a Chris Kelly-type player — where the coach has lots of confidence in you and has no problem putting you on the ice in all situations.”
Murray said Ottawa officials are looking for Bass to spend his time in Binghamton continuing to kill penalties, win faceoffs and serve as a two-way center, while refining his offensive game and proving he can be a “hard guy to play against.”
October 26, 2007
Michael Sharp is reporting that Mattias Karlsson is returning to Sweden. Hope to get more info later.
Defenseman Mattias Karlsson is returning to Sweden on Friday morning, B-Sens executive vice president of operations Tom Mitchell confirmed Thursday, and it’s my understanding the decision was made by Ottawa officials. Sens assistant GM Tim Murray is scheduled to be in town this weekend, so I hope to report back soon on how this decision came to be made.
He also gets more details on Carkner’s potential switch from defense to forward.
Thursday after practice, both Carkner and B-Sens coach Cory Clouston downplayed the move — at least for the time being.
“We’ll see,” Clouston said. “We’ll play it by ear. I mean, we’ve got to do what’s right for the individual, but we’ve also got to do what’s right for the team and the organization. And there’s a balance there. And … he may get the odd shift on the weekend up (at) forward, but again, we’ll have to wait and see.”
If Carkner does in fact return this weekend — he’s been out since breaking his left hand in Ottawa’s first preseason game — he’ll do so initially on defense, where’s he’s been practicing with the B-Sens this week.
“(In Ottawa), I’ve just been trying to take pucks coming off the boards and clearing them, trying to do a few forward things, because it might play with that idea this year,” Carkner said. “Because I’m a big, physical guy, and maybe I can benefit the team being a forward.”
He added: “My position is defense right now, and that’s what I’m going to be playing. But, once in a while, you may see me pop up on the front end. I’m not sure how serious that is right now, but I definitely have to get some practice in before that happens.”
October 26, 2007
Thanks again to ThirtyFive for the latest translation.
As it was explained to me, the road trip to Norfolk was the farthest for our team. It really did take a long time getting there, 9 hours. But I must admit everything went much easier than I anticipated. The bus had all the amenities, even wireless Internet. And after all, the roads in the US are much better than even in Moscow, to say nothing of the rest of Russia. Because of that the trip went by unnoticeably. We made just one stop at a McDonald’s, where I bought something to eat.
I’m not a big fan of looking out windows, so I can’t share much about the views. I watched movies, played computer games, browsed the Internet, slept. We arrived at our destination around 10 PM and right away checked into a hotel.
Perhaps it was the road, or something else happened, but we were a totally different team in the first game. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I personally played my worst game. I think we somehow weren’t prepared. We could do absolutely nothing. The legs did not move. You seem to make one stride, but then the legs block up. And our goalie didn’t have the best night. Anyway, I want to forget that game as quickly as possible.
But the second game turned out quite differently. We were probably angry after losing 5-1. And the opponent relaxed after an easy win. But it’s not like we had nothing to do with the success. We played a totally different game. And Norfolk is a good team. Tall defensemen, and just the whole team is very big. The forwards are technical. I liked the opposition.
By the way, these two games for Binghamton I spent on the same line. We are the first line with Danny Bois and Denis Hamel. We spend approximately 20 minutes on the ice. Our line has been the most successful thus far. Bois has five points in five games, I have four, and Hamel has three.
Do I get tired? I wouldn’t say I do, not too much. Disregarding the first game against Norfolk, where I felt exhausted after each stride, I have enough strength. But you definitely tire a lot more here than you do in the Russian Superleague. But honestly, it’s hard to compare like that. Russia has larger rinks, a wholly different type of hockey, space to skate. You skate less here, but it’s very intense. You must constantly hit your opponent and they hit you all the time. But I feel that we have a very strong team, although I’ve seen little of others. If we can avoid such setbacks like with Norfolk, then everything will be all right.
There’s no news from Ottawa. Nobody says anything. But it’s not customary to discuss that here. Anything can happen at any moment. They’ll say “get ready”, and you’ll be going up to the big team. But I’m very happy with how Ottawa is performing in the regular season. Taking out anyone who’s in their way.
By the way, a physical trainer from the Senators came to our club. The main team had four days off, and he spent a few training sessions with us. We did coordination exercises. Did things we didn’t do before. For example, running with a parachute on the back. It must be noted that that’s rather difficult.
I also want to mention that I really miss my parents, friends, my girlfriend Natasha. Even though she’s supposed to come over, there are certain difficulties with obtaining an American visa. She was already denied once. Maybe somebody at the US embassy reads this blog, or people that are in that field? Hopefully, they could help.
October 25, 2007
The Binghamton Senators will soon have another veteran on their blue line.
Assigned Friday from Ottawa to Binghamton, Carkner cleared waivers Monday, and his arrival provides a 6-foot-4, 229-pound addition — plus 390 games of American Hockey League experience — to a Binghamton blue line that’s coming off its best showing in recent memory.
“I think it’s a pretty large addition to the defensive corps,” said B-Sens center Josh Hennessy, a teammate of Carkner’s during the 2005-06 season with the AHL’s old Cleveland Barons.
“He has experience. He’s a great leader. He’s a good guy. He’s tough as nails. He’s really solid defensively, and he’s gotten a lot better offensively too in the last couple years.”
An interesting side note…apparently Ottawa is considering switching Carkner to forward. Here’s the story:
Matt Carkner is being dealt a new hand while he waits for one of his own to heal. The Winchester, Ont. native is being sent to Binghamton after recovering from a broken hand suffered in a preseason scrap, and being asked to move up front, with hopes that might develop into a fourth-line NHL role player.
“He might have a chance to play forward at the NHL level if he’s willing to make the switch,” said Binghamton General Manager Tim Murray. Carkner has skated with Senators’ conditioning coach Randy Lee for the past month, and worked predominantly on forward drills.
Murray likes Carkner’s toughness and character. Carkner, 6-4, 230, was a notable fighter in his OHL days with Peterborough, and a second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He’s one tough cookie who has become a feared fighter in the AHL as well, something that endears him to Murray, who has an affinity for rugged players.
Will be interesting to see what moves are made in Binghamton once Carkner is healthy.
October 25, 2007
The Draft Guy has a great interview with Ottawa Assistant GM Tim Murray and gets his impression on all of Binghamton’s players this season. Here are some of my favorites.
“An energy guy, good skater,” said Murray. “He will be a (NHL) player if he figures out he should be a prick some nights and not just an energy guy. He has a good understanding of the defensive game, good on faceoffs. A real responsible player.”
“Highly skilled, as most Russian forwards are, he’s a real good player with the puck right now and he’s not real good without the puck right now. He has a personality, competes, speaks English. His father wanted him to stay one more year, but he put his foot down and said he was coming over. He took a step to show us he wants to improve and become a (NHL) player. He has a great personality. He keeps his head up when he’s walking by you in the hall. He’ll say “Hello Mr. Murray, how are you?” He’s lapping up every minute of it. He’s getting stronger; he’s not afraid.”
“He’s beyond tough. He’s already had three fights, and two with bonafide heavyweights in (Dennis) Bonvie and (6-8 Chris) McAllister, and he won both. Then he fought that 6-10 Slovak (Valdimir Mihalik) and destroyed him. He changes hands so quickly, faster than anyone else. He has UFC training. He’ll have a hard time getting fights as his reputation spreads (in the AHL). Skating wise, in a straight line he’s okay, good on the forecheck. For a tough guy he’s a decent player. Plus he’s good on the bench. He’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s a better player than I thought, a good guy and a good teammate. He’ll help us win some games this year.”
Emphasis mine on that last one. Now that cracked me up. Glad to see Ottawa paying much closer attention to Binghamton and realizing the importance of playing tough.
October 24, 2007
Keith Aucoin has been recalled to Carolina after injuries to Eric Cole, Andrew Ladd and Scott Walker. Looks like it could be a longer stay for Aucoin than his previous trips to the NHL.
The Carolina Hurricanes recalled forwards Keith Aucoin and Ryan Bayda on Monday.
Aucoin, who set Rats records for assists (72) and points (99) last season, had six points in five games this season. Bayda led Albany last season with 29 goals and has scored once in four games this month after returning from Carolina, where he opened the season.
“It could be two to four or maybe even six weeks,” Rats coach/general manager Tom Rowe said of the time Aucoin and Bayda will be in the NHL.
The ‘Canes have lost forwards Eric Cole, Andrew Ladd and Scott Walker indefinitely to injuries. Cole has a sprained foot, Ladd a twisted ankle and Walker an injured chest.
Cole and Ladd are expected to miss 7-10 days, according to Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford. Walker’s return is uncertain.
I also stumbled upon a great article about why Aucoin shouldn’t be in the AHL. Good timing by the writer, maybe Aucoin’s AHL does are done. I believe he’ll need to clear waivers if he is sent down again, just like Hamel last season, and could be picked up by another club.
Keith Aucoin doesn’t belong in Albany. He doesn’t deserve to be a River Rat.
The center shouldn’t be on the banners or the cover of the media guide. He shouldn’t have been on the ice Saturday night for the home opener, a 2-1 shootout loss to the Norfolk Admirals at Times Union Center.
Simply, Aucoin is an NHLer trapped in the minors. He should boarding planes bound for Boston or Miami, not hopping on buses headed for Syracuse or Hershey. He should be up with the parent club, the Carolina Hurricanes, or perhaps another NHL team.
October 19, 2007
Here is the latest blog entry from Nikulin translated by ThirtyFive on HFBoards.
Ilja and I went to the English teacher for the first time, and we have to confess, we did not like it. Spoke for an hour about nothing. We were taught simple words: “table”, “door”. Generally speaking, what we already knew.
What we want to understand is how to make phrases, sentences. Learn how to talk about everyday things. Now I don’t even know what to do. We’ll go once more, of course, but if it will continue like that, then we’ll look for another teacher. We were expecting something else entirely.
But now for something pleasant, because we played golf here! The team had a night out with the sponsors, went to a special place. It was my first encounter with this new sport. I liked it. Should there be another occasion, I’ll play again. Although I didn’t have any success yet. Didn’t get it once in the hole. And I couldn’t make the long-distance shots every time. Didn’t hit it with the first swing. Often I either missed, or gotten a piece of the green. Good thing experienced guys suggested which club to use. It’s all right, the first step is always the hardest.
Playing golf is a bit of diversity. Because my day goes by simply: practice, lunch, nap, dinner, sleep. We almost never go out into the town, and it’s a really small one. Very few places to take a walk. So mostly just stay in the hotel. Also, Ilja and I finally went the movies. It was the horror movie Halloween. Knowledge of English was not really required. It was still pretty scary without the words.
Looks like soon we’re going to be moving to a house or an apartment, haven’t decided. But Ilja Zubov decided to buy a car. Obviously, he’s right, it’s convenient with one. But I won’t be doing that yet. But there’s nothing else to spend money on. Although, as you know, salaries of NHL and AHL players differ substantially. But I don’t have any financial problems, everything is great. First paycheck was on October 15.
I want to get back to our golf party. After the game we went to a restaurant, had a team dinner. Some speeches were said, though, obviously, it was hard for me to understand what they were about exactly. So Ilja and I just sat there together through it all. But there was no team dinner in our understanding, when rookies are responsible for paying for the food.
I’d like to note another detail. In the CSKA, and also in Ottawa, we would warm up before games with a soccer ball, kicking it back and forth between guys. They don’t do that in Binghamton. Everyone gets ready for a game by themselves.
During games here our mascot walks the arena stands. But I have to admit I’m at a loss as to what kind of animal it is. Though he’s very good at getting the fans excited. And if they like it, then everything’s all right. Now, after three home games, we’re going on the road. Very interesting how it’s done here.
So, all in all, I’m doing great. Looks like my parents and girlfriend will visit me only in Canada. And that’s an additional incentive to make Ottawa as soon as possible.
October 19, 2007
Nick Foligno is staying late in practice to try and step out of his father’s shadow.
October 18, 2007
Before the season started I was wondering where all these rookies were going to fit. I also was expecting an announcement of an affiliation with Elmira. Nothing is official, but the relationship is there as my first question was finally answered. Yesterday Binghamton sent Kudelka and McKenzie to Elmira in the ECHL.
Making the hour-long drive from Binghamton west to Elmira are defenseman Tomas Kudelka and right wing Jim McKenzie, both of whom had played in one of three games for the B-Sens this season.
“Tomas, he’s in a situation of a number’s game, and he needs to play to develop and it’s not doing him any good being in and out of the lineup,” B-Sens coach Cory Clouston said Wednesday.
“And same with McKenzie. We have a couple extra forwards.”
Wednesday’s moves, along with Saturday’s addition of defenseman Mattias Karlsson and Sunday’s return of goalie Brian Elliott, leave Binghamton with two goalies, seven defensemen and 12 forwards.
The defensive corps is looking at another possible addition in the next week or two, as Matt Carkner continues his comeback from a broken hand. In Binghamton over the weekend, Ottawa assistant general manager Tim Murray said Carkner has been cleared to resume shooting and that he’s likely two weeks “at the most” away from returning.
What a relief it is to see the players flowing FROM the AHL to the ECHL this season. The last two seasons has seen Binghamton filling out their roster with ECHL and UHL free agents. This season we have a few of our own prospects getting serious ice time in Elmira and only an hour away if we need a callup. This should also be a message to the rest of the B-Sens players that their spot on the Bingo roster is not set in stone.