Belarus comes into the 2010 Olympics ranked 8th, the highest ranking this nation has ever had. Of course, they are still remembered for their miracle run in 2002 where they eventually fell to the powerful Russians in the bronze medal game after their miracle victory in the semi-finals over power house Sweden.
After that amazing finish they fell on hard times, doing as poorly as 18th just 2 years later in the World Championship tournament. The last 4 years have shown some promise as they have finished 6th, 11th, 9th & 8th just last year.
These Olympics they are going in looking to improve on the standings they have reached currently. They certainly realize another medal game isnt likely, but with 2002 still fresh in the minds of many, they will still try for another miracle run. They have a few NHLers scattered thru the line up, but they are not realistically going to be a huge threat to the top tier of teams again.
Andrei Mezin- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- The man behind the miracle 2002 run is still seen as the overwhelming #1 for this team.
Vitali Koval- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- A back up to Andrei in the KHL, Vitali will fill the same role here too.
Stepan Goryachevskikh- YUNOST MINSK (BELARUS)- Unlikely to get much if any playing time, he has been one of the better goalies in Belarus & is young enough that the experience of being here will pay off for the country down the road when Mezin retires.
Ruslan Salei- COLORADO AVALANCHE (NHL) As the sole member of his teams defense core in the NHL, Ruslan will be expected to take on big time minutes.
Vladimir Denisov- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- Putting up decent numbers in the KHL this year after a reasonable year in the AHL last season.. Probably will get lots of PP time.
Sergei Kolosov- GRAND RAPID GRIFFINS (AHL) His year & 1/2 of AHL play is enough to give him a notable spot on this team.
Alexander Makritsky- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- If healthy, he is on the team. Only 3 GP so far this year though.
Viktor Kostyuchenok- MOSCOW SPARTAK (KHL). A trade this season has slowed his offensive game, but he should still be on this team in some role.
Dmitri Korobov- UNKNOWN (last in KHL). At 20 yrs old & 6'6, he should be a lock for the team...even though I cant find where he is playing this season if anywhere. Maybe in Belarusian league? Hard finding stats from there.
Alexander Riadinski- UNKNOWN. Probably in Belarus. Was on their World Championship team last year & played the most minutes of any of their dmen. This gives me reason to believe he'll be there for 2010.
Andrei Antonov- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL) By default of being in a major pro league, he will fill out the defense core.
Mikhail Grabovski- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) The teams top offensive weapon will be expected to get along with his countrymen the Kostitsyn brothers, there is unfriendly feelings between them.
Andrei Kostitsyn- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) Having a slight downturn offensively this year, Andrei will still be expected to take top line ice time.
Sergei Kostitsyn- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) Where Andrei is, Sergei will be there too. Whether its supporting Grabovski, or on their own line is still to be answered.
Konstantin Koltsov- UFA SALAVAT YUALYEV (KHL)- A very good 2 way player will be expected to be a leader for the team & probably will be out there in all situations.
Alexei Kalyuzhny- MOSCOW DYNAMO (KHL)- Will likely be on the 2nd line. Just a question of with who.
Oleg Antonenko- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- a trade this season has possibly hindered his chances some, but even at 38, he is still producing decent enough numbers to see a spot on the team in one of the top 3 lines.
Alexei Ugarov- BALASHIKHA MVD HC (KHL)- Will be a suitable 3rd liner who can take 2nd line minutes if needed.
Sergei Demagin- NIZHNEKAMSK NEFTEKHIMIK (KHL). An early season trade away from Minsk has lit a fire under him. Gone from 1 pt in 7 GP to 19 pts in 23 GP since the trade.
Dmitry Meleshko- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL) First full year in Minsk is showing that he can produce offensively. Defensive game will be what they will probably require of him here though.
Dmitry Dudik- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- Has taken his role as a 3rd liner well, and will be expected such duties on this team will be within his capabilities.
Roman Voloshenko- UNKNOWN. A once promising top NHL prospect, Roman has quite literally fallen off the major hockey map. I'm assuming hes in Belarus, but not sure. I cant find anything about him having any career ending injury. So I am assuming hes still playing. I am putting him here purely on the fact he was a capable AHL scorer only a few seasons ago. Could be off the team if is regression has actually been this severe.
Sergei Zadelenov- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- playing checking line role in Minsk means a good chance he'll get that call on this squad as well.
Yarloslav Chupris- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL) Top scorer on Minsk last season has TWO whole points this year. Might make team based on last seasons performance.
maybes- Ivan Usenko, Aleksandr Zhurik, Andrei Mikhalev, Sergei Drozd, Sergei Kukushkin, Evgeny Kurilin.
Montreal Canadiens- autograph report
The Montreal Canadiens for many years have been one of the most fan friendly & accomodating teams in all of sports. Truly class acts....and this is coming from someone that doesnt like them.
Those days however, ARE OVER!
With only 2 teams having come thru this season I am going to boldly proclaim the Montreal Canadiens will end the year as one fo the 5 worst signing teams to come here.
It wasnt ALL their fault, but it was certainly MOSTLY their fault.
Things that made this trip less sucessful that was out of their hands was the fact they changed hotels, fron a relatively decent hotel, to a horrible unwelcoming one. They also parked the bus in a spot that makes it MUCH tougher getting autographs at the rink after the post-gameday practice. Unlike the spacious railed area at their regular departure point that can comfortably make room for 20+ people, the tight narrow area of the driveway ramp provides room for 1 person to stand there, and another 2 to stand over that persons shoulder. Everyone behind there is generally SOL. Besides that, this was all on their shoulders.
Starting in goal
CAREY PRICE- 2 autographs. he actually started off the trip good. He signed a handful going into the gameday skate. But with a crowd of 40 or so waiting, he fell well short of seeing that everyone got 1. As the trip went on, he became even less willing. Only signing a few coming out of gameday practice & all of ONE the day after for the post-gameday practice that was sparsely attended by hounds.
JAROSLAV HALAK- 3 autographs. He managed to go undetected right up until they were getting on the bus to leave to the airport. Mostly because he had shaved his head & it threw those of us that had met him before off. Once he was picked off, he signed willingly...of course, there was only me 1 other person there with items for him at that time.
JAROSLAV SPACEK- 2 autographs. Oddly, he refused to sign for fans going into the game. The next day however, he was more cordial & signed for the few people asking.
ROMAN HAMRLIK- 0 autographs. Was actually one of the best signers. I dont recall him turning down any requests.
JOSH GORGES- 0 autographs. With comments like "make it quick, I gotta go" you can see that he was all class on the trip. He hurridly scrawled his signature on a couple peoples items before beelining for a cab after practice. Dont recall him being any better at any other point of the trip.
HAL GILL- 1 autograph. For a guy 6'7, I had a hell of a time getting him lol. He seemed to be hit & miss signing & the 1 time previous to them leaving town that he did sign I somehow missed him. I must have been busy getting someone else at that moment. When I finally did get him, it wasnt on the item I wanted, because I didnt have time to get to it & just accepted him on the generic team item I had shoved thru the limited space available near the door of the bus.
YANNICK WEBER- 1 autograph. No one knew who he was & if it werent for the generic team item I had & another hound with a puck, he would have probably not had to sign a single autograph here. I cant say if he would be a good signer or not, as no one ever actually asked him by name.
RYAN O'BYRNE & PAUL MARA- Do not have a report on.
ANDREI KOSTITSYN- 1 autograph. Was not too willing to acknowledge anyone, let alone sign until right before they left town. He signed a few at the bus door & that was, to the best of my knowledge, all he did while here. Certainly was not a willing signer.
BRIAN GIONTA- 4 autographs. Probably the best signer on the team. Signed anytime that you were able to get near him. Was willing to do multiples as well. Which was really rare on this team.
GEORGES LARAQUE- 0 autographs. Has been one of the leagues worst signers the past few seasons. He put that label into overdrive this trip. There is mixed reports of whether or not he signed a girls jersey when he came out on the game day skate. I dont think he actually did. Which if its true, means he completed signing a grand total of 0 autographs in 2 days here. Thats sad & pathetic, considering his autograph is nothing more than "GL". Usually players get tougher as they get better, not as they get worse. His signing habits have gone the way of his playing skills, downhill fast.
GLEN METROPOLIT- 0 autographs. Signed willingly when asked. Unsure if he would do multiples, but he seemed willing to sign, so maybe?
GUILLAUME LATENDRESSE- 3 autographs. Despite the positive number if autographs I got. The other GL tried to discourage people from getting him by giving out one of the most abysmal autographs I have seen from a relative newcomer in a long time.
MAX PACIORETTY- 5 autographs. Terrific signer for now. Did 4 items in 1 shot without any hesitation. I would say, from my experience, the best signer on the team for now.
MAXIM LAPIERRE- 0 autographs. There was considerable confusion when he signed on who was signing. Some people thought it was (Max)Pacioretty, some people thought it was (Matt) D'Agostini. By the time it was deciphered for those of us on the opposite side of where he started signing, we werent prepared for him & most of us missed him. But he seemed to be an ok signer for those on the other side that were able to see who it was from the beginning.
MIKE CAMMALLERI- 2 autographs. Coming into the gameday practice he was a good signer. Making sur eeveryone got one & in most cases 2. But that was IT. He never stopped again. So make sure you are there early for the Habs, because once he signs, he has the "I got everyone" mentality & wont do it again.
SCOTT GOMEZ- 0 autographs. Only because Georges Laraque is on the team is Scott not the teams worst signer. He signed TWO whole autographs, despite being asked everytime he was seen To top it off, his autographs resembled an upside down V with a small squiggle mark following.
TOMAS PLEKANEC- 1 autograph. He signed when I asked him to sign, but prior to that I dont recall even seeing him. So unsure how he was the rest of the trip.
TRAVIS MOEN- 1 autograph. Wasnt asked by a lot of people, but the ones who did ask, he signed for. I believe he was a strict 1 per about it though.
GREGORY STEWART- 1 autograph. dont recall how he was. I got him on my team photo the day they were elaving, but have no recollection of getting him. It really was a blur for a few mins there.
KYLE CHIPCHURA 1 autograph, dont recall how he was. I got him on my team photo the day they were elaving, but have no recollection of getting him. It really was a blur for a few mins there.
MATT D'AGOSTINI- no reports.
KIRK MULLER- 1 autograph. Was a willing signer anytime he was asked.
BOB GAINEY- 0 autographs. Never was seen till just before they were ready to leave town. TWO people asked him, he signed for ONE.
Total autographs from Montreal- 29
Canadagraphs Hockey Blogs
From time to time I have something to say on hockey. Whether its the Vancouver Canucks, NHL in general, Womens Hockey or International Hockey...if I have something to post, it will be in here.