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RE: [hockhist] Russian Hockey Boom (Steve Plouffe in Moscow)

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  • arthur chidlovski
    While we are on topic, here is the Vancouver Sun article featuring and interview with Steve Plouffe who now plays with Spartak Moscow. It s interesting that
    Message 1 of 12 , Jan 1, 2003
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      While we are on topic, here is the Vancouver Sun
      article featuring and interview with Steve Plouffe who
      now plays with Spartak Moscow. It's interesting that
      it's completely opposite to what Steve was saying in
      his interviews in Russia but nevertheless, it's an
      interesting read. He a record holder on the seasons
      played in the Russian Super League by a foreign player
      and a VERY POPULAR personality among Russian fans.

      ---------------------------------------------------

      Gary Mason
      Vancouver Sun

      Thursday, November 14, 2002


      Steve Plouffe at Sokolniki Ice Palace, Moscow: 'Here,
      hockey is a nine-to-five job. You're in the gym twice
      a day. It's like being in the army. They think the
      more you train the better you'll be. They're a little
      stupid that way.'

      MOSCOW - The goalie for Spartak Moscow is sitting in
      the cafeteria of the Sokolniki Ice Palace, his home
      rink, and we're talking about the highs and lows of
      life in Russia. He's speaking English, with a
      French-Canadian accent.

      Steve Plouffe, of Laval, Que., is shaking his head as
      he begins telling the story of The Plane Ride.

      "It was the worst day of my life," he starts.

      Plouffe and his Spartak teammates had boarded a plane
      to Siberia where they were scheduled to play
      Khabarovsk Amur that night. Plouffe played in
      Khabarovsk for three seasons before signing on with
      Spartak this past summer. He knew the flight between
      Khabarovsk and Moscow well.

      "We're flying Siberian Airlines," Plouffe continues
      while rolling his eyes. "We take off and everything
      seems fine and we're climbing and climbing and then
      suddenly the plane goes into a nosedive. I swear to
      God, straight nosedive just like this."

      The palm of his hand is pointing straight down.

      "I figure that's it. Everybody on the plane is crying
      and saying their prayers. It's awful. Me, I see my
      life pass before my eyes. I swear to God. We must have
      been going down for 15, 20 seconds and it felt like
      the plane was going 1,000 miles an hour. Suddenly, we
      come out of the nosedive slowly. I can't believe it.
      I'm thinking, 'Please God let us make it.' And we
      start climbing and climbing and everyone is making the
      sign of the cross and we figure we might just make it.

      "And then the plane goes into another nosedive. I
      swear to God."

      Needless to say there were more tears and prayers and
      Plouffe saw another version of his life, this time in
      Technicolor. As you might have guessed by now, given
      that Plouffe is telling the story, the plane didn't
      crash. It pulled out of the nosedive a second time and
      continued on to Khabarovsk.

      "We were told later the pilot was having trouble
      building up enough speed against some headwinds or
      something so in order to get enough speed he had to go
      into a nosedive. Not once but twice. But I'll tell
      you, when I landed I said, 'That's it. I'm getting out
      of here. I'm going back to Canada. Enough's enough.
      But after a while I decided to hang in for a while
      longer."

      A while has turned into weeks and will likely last
      until the end of the season, Plouffe's fourth playing
      in the Russian Super League.

      "Every year I say it's going to be my last and then I
      look at the money they're offering and I think, 'Maybe
      I'll play one more.'"

      Plouffe isn't the first North- American-born hockey
      player to play professionally in Russia. But he can
      certainly claim to be among those who have played here
      the longest. Once upon a time, you left the comforts
      of Canada and the U.S. to play hockey here only for
      the experience. But more and more players are doing it
      for a different reason: the money.

      The Super League has reportedly become the second
      highest paying hockey league in the world. Guys like
      Plouffe can make between $200,000 to $300,000 US
      tax-free a season. Bigger names like Andre Racicot,
      formerly of the Montreal Canadiens and Frantisek
      Kucera, formerly of the Washington Capitals, can make
      twice that. There are players reportedly making more
      than $1 million US.

      But while the money is nice, and always a motivator, a
      move to Russia is not without its challenges.

      "It's a different world over here," Plouffe is saying,
      sipping on a coffee. "And to be honest, a lot of it
      isn't the greatest. You kind of just have to close
      your eyes and suck it up and think, 'I'm going to do
      this for a few years and make as much money as I can
      and then go home.'"

      Plouffe was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the sixth
      round in 1994 after a solid career in the Quebec Major
      Junior Hockey League. Unable to crack the Sabres
      lineup, Plouffe bounced around in the minors for a few
      years and thought about retiring and getting a job
      when his agent, Yves Dufort, called him with an
      intriguing offer.

      Khabarovsk Amur was looking for a goalie. And offering
      twice as much as Plouffe was making in the Central
      League. Why not, he thought. How bad could Khabarovsk
      be? Wherever that was.

      "I'll never forget the first day I arrived," Plouffe
      says. "Well, you've been to the airport here. There
      were guards all over the place with guns and no one
      speaks a word of English and no one is smiling and I'm
      already wondering what the hell I got myself into.
      Somehow I manage to get through customs and there is a
      guy holding up a sign with my name on it."

      So far, so good.

      Plouffe picked up his luggage and grabbed his huge
      hockey bag and the half dozen goalie sticks he brought
      with him and headed for the car. He was told he had to
      take another flight to get to Khabarovsk and that
      flight left from a different airport.

      "There's two guys and we start heading towards their
      car and it turns out to be like this 1960 Lada. It's
      no bigger than a Mini Minor. Well, there's no room for
      my hockey equipment so we have to throw it on the roof
      and wrap a piece of rope around it. And it's just
      pissing rain.

      "We head off and the two guys roll down their windows
      and they each have a string in their hands that is
      attached to one of the windshield wipers. And they
      each start pulling the wipers back and forth with
      their little strings. I'm not kidding. you wouldn't
      believe it.

      "Well, I'm looking and think, 'What the hell have I
      got myself into?' I want to go home."

      They made it to the other airport where Plouffe
      thought he had a one hour flight to get to his new
      hockey town.

      "Yeah, an hour," Plouffe laughs. "Try eight hours.
      This place was in Russia but was closer to China. I
      couldn't believe it."

      The first season was tough. There wasn't a player on
      Plouffe's team who spoke a word of English. Games and
      practices weren't a problem. But in the dressing room
      and on the plane it was lonely.

      "I watched TV a lot," Plouffe recalls. "But I didn't
      have to do that much. Here hockey is a nine-to-five
      job. You're in the gym twice a day. It's like being in
      the army. There's very little down time. You just
      train, train, train. They think the more you train the
      better you'll be. They're a little stupid that way."

      Plouffe was getting home at 8:30, 9 o'clock each
      night, phoning his wife, talking to his two kids and
      then going to sleep. The next day it was the same
      routine all over again.

      Then there was the food.

      "Awful," Plouffe says. "I just absolutely hated the
      food."

      For starters, Plouffe hates mayonnaise. Russians love
      it and smear it on everything, including soup. After a
      couple of weeks, Plouffe asked his translator if they
      could go talk to the chef at the hotel where he was
      staying. They did and came up with a special menu that
      Plouffe could live with.

      There were other things that made Plouffe shake his
      head too.

      "Some of the things the Russian players did were just
      . . . ." Plouffe shakes his head and rolls his eyes
      again.

      "They would go to the shower in their underwear and
      use hand soap to clean their underwear and then take
      it off and let it dry. Then they'd come back in and
      have a shower themselves. They were too cheap to take
      their underwear home with them and do it in the
      laundry like most people.

      "And then if we had two practices in one day, like we
      often did, they wouldn't use soap or shampoo during
      their first shower after the first practice. They'd
      save it for the second practice. These are guys who
      were making $50,000 US. I thought they were making
      $200 a month the way they acted. If they got a new
      stick they would take the tape off the old one and put
      it on the new one. Stuff like that."

      Plouffe's wife Caroline didn't join him the first
      season but did the second. She arrived in Khabarovsk
      in October with plans to stay until Christmas. She
      lasted two weeks. She came back the next year about
      the same time and lasted a week longer.

      "She couldn't handle it," Plouffe says.

      After three seasons in Siberia, Plouffe received a
      better financial offer from Spartak, a team situated
      in the heart of Moscow. While he had been considering
      retiring, the extra money Spartak was waving in his
      face and the prospect of living in Moscow for a season
      seemed appealing. Now, Caroline is coming over with
      the couple's two children with plans to stay until the
      season is over early in the new year.

      Each year, meantime, Plouffe sees more and more
      players from North America touching down in Russia to
      play hockey. "When I first came over there was only
      one or two of us. Now there's, what, a dozen or so?"

      Plouffe doesn't know if this will be his last season
      here or not. With the kind of money the Super League
      is offering it's hard to leave, even if you don't like
      mayonnaise in your soup. The way Plouffe sees it,
      besides having a comfortable nest egg when he does
      wrap things up here, he'll also have some incredible
      stories.

      "Oh, boy," Plouffe says. "I'll be able to keep the
      boys in stitches for hours with some of the tales I've
      collected here.

      "It's been an incredible adventure so far. That's the
      only way to describe it."

      ------------------------------

      ___ Arthur Chidlovski _____________
      1972 USSR vs. Canada Summit Series
      at http://www.chidlovski.com/p1972.htm
      1974 USSR vs. Canada Summit Series
      at http://www.chidlovski.com/personal/1974/


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    • arch4web <arch4web@yahoo.com>
      Hi hockhist people: I don t know if it s of any interest to the list members (it s not really a history topic) but here are the stats of the non former USSR
      Message 2 of 12 , Jan 1, 2003
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        Hi hockhist people:

        I don't know if it's of any interest to the list members (it's not
        really a history topic) but here are the stats of the non former USSR
        players in the Russian Super League at the time of the Izvestia Cup
        break in the League tournament.

        Please note in some cases I might have missed some players because
        the list is based on a personal judgement of whether the last name of
        the players don't look of a Russian origin.

        ----- Goaltenders:
        [Name, Team GP-MIN-GA-SO-GAA]

        Alex Westlund, Amur 30-1713-56-5-1,96
        Mike Fountain, Lada 9- 411-16-1-2,33
        Jeff Mond, Metallurg Mg 3- 180-11-0-3,66
        Marcel Cousineau, Severstal 20-1200-33-4-1,65
        Cristian Bronsard, Sibir 23-1392-55-0-2,37
        Steve Plouffe, Spartak 26-1580-77-2-2,93
        Dusan Salficky, CSKA 23-1303-50-3-2,30

        ----- Defensemen and Forwards:

        [Name, Position GP-G-A-P-PIM]

        - AK Bars

        J. Benda, F 30- 8-16-14-32

        - Amur Khabarovsk

        D. MacIsaack, D 22- 1- 2- 3-34
        J. McCarthy, D 4- 0- 0- 0-2
        C. Wells, F 7- 0- 2- 2-12

        - Avangard Omsk

        J. Slegr, D 3- 1- 1- 2- 8
        T. Vlasak, F 27-10-15-25-30
        P. Patera, F 30- 6-19-25-40
        M. Prohaska, F 23- 7- 4-11-10

        - Dynamo Moscow

        O. Soutokorva, D 24- 0- 1- 1-12

        - Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

        M. Strbak, D 27- 0- 6- 6-30
        K. Rahunek, D 9- 3- 0- 3- 8
        J.Peterek, F 28- 7- 8-15-10

        - Lada Togliatti
        L.Cerny 30- 3- 4- 7-26

        - Neftekhimik

        R. Sehny, F 9- 3- 0- 3- 6

        I also found out about interesting news from AK Bars. They just got
        Jiri Hudler, 18-year old Czech prospect. I have no idea what
        the "price tag" was but it is really a new trend because most of the
        non-USSR players in the Russian elite league are rather past their
        prime time in playing hockey or close to that and, most definitely,
        not juniors.

        Just some non-historical OT,


        ___ Arthur Chidlovski _____________
        1972 USSR vs. Canada Summit Series
        at http://www.chidlovski.com/p1972.htm
        1974 USSR vs. Canada Summit Series
        at http://www.chidlovski.com/personal/1974/
      • arch4web <arch4web@yahoo.com>
        Hi hockhist people: I don t know if it s of any interest to the list members (it s not really a history topic) but here are the stats of the non former USSR
        Message 3 of 12 , Jan 1, 2003
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          Hi hockhist people:

          I don't know if it's of any interest to the list members (it's not
          really a history topic) but here are the stats of the non former USSR
          players in the Russian Super League at the time of the Izvestia Cup
          break in the League tournament.

          Please note in some cases I might have missed some players because
          the list is based on a personal judgement of whether the last name of
          the players don't look of a Russian origin.

          ----- Goaltenders:
          [Name, Team GP-MIN-GA-SO-GAA]

          Alex Westlund, Amur 30-1713-56-5-1,96
          Mike Fountain, Lada 9- 411-16-1-2,33
          Jeff Mond, Metallurg Mg 3- 180-11-0-3,66
          Marcel Cousineau, Severstal 20-1200-33-4-1,65
          Cristian Bronsard, Sibir 23-1392-55-0-2,37
          Steve Plouffe, Spartak 26-1580-77-2-2,93
          Dusan Salficky, CSKA 23-1303-50-3-2,30

          ----- Defensemen and Forwards:

          [Name, Position GP-G-A-P-PIM]

          - AK Bars

          J. Benda, F 30- 8-16-14-32

          - Amur Khabarovsk

          D. MacIsaack, D 22- 1- 2- 3-34
          J. McCarthy, D 4- 0- 0- 0-2
          C. Wells, F 7- 0- 2- 2-12

          - Avangard Omsk

          J. Slegr, D 3- 1- 1- 2- 8
          T. Vlasak, F 27-10-15-25-30
          P. Patera, F 30- 6-19-25-40
          M. Prohaska, F 23- 7- 4-11-10

          - Dynamo Moscow

          O. Soutokorva, D 24- 0- 1- 1-12

          - Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

          M. Strbak, D 27- 0- 6- 6-30
          K. Rahunek, D 9- 3- 0- 3- 8
          J.Peterek, F 28- 7- 8-15-10

          - Lada Togliatti
          L.Cerny 30- 3- 4- 7-26

          - Neftekhimik

          R. Sehny, F 9- 3- 0- 3- 6

          I also found out about interesting news from AK Bars. They just got
          Jiri Hudler, 18-year old Czech prospect. I have no idea what
          the "price tag" was but it is really a new trend because most of the
          non-USSR players in the Russian elite league are rather past their
          prime time in playing hockey or close to that and, most definitely,
          not juniors.

          Just some non-historical OT,


          ___ Arthur Chidlovski _____________
          1972 USSR vs. Canada Summit Series
          at http://www.chidlovski.com/p1972.htm
          1974 USSR vs. Canada Summit Series
          at http://www.chidlovski.com/personal/1974/
        • jill gillham
          ... I m not sure if there s a solid connection but it s worth noting that Detroit holds Hudler s draft rights. And the Red Wings have two former AK-Bars Kazan
          Message 4 of 12 , Jan 5, 2003
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            --- "arch4web <arch4web@...>"
            <arch4web@...> wrote:

            > I also found out about interesting news from AK
            > Bars. They just got
            > Jiri Hudler, 18-year old Czech prospect. I have no
            > idea what
            > the "price tag" was but it is really a new trend
            > because most of the
            > non-USSR players in the Russian elite league are
            > rather past their
            > prime time in playing hockey or close to that and,
            > most definitely,
            > not juniors.

            I'm not sure if there's a solid connection but it's
            worth noting that Detroit holds Hudler's draft rights.
            And the Red Wings have two former AK-Bars Kazan
            players on their roster that have been more than
            pleasant surprises. (Pavel Datsyuk and Dmitri Bykov)
            Even if the Wings didn't directly broker anything, I'd
            suspect they gave their blessing to that union.
            Especially if they can get Hudler to emmulate Dats'
            ability to keep control of the puck while getting run
            into the boards by a guy 50 pounds heavier.

            =====
            Jill
            selkie@...

            "Shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased. Thus do we refute entropy." Spider Robinson

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