Guest blogger: The Russian Four Is Ready To Rumble
Here's Slava Malamud's latest contribution to Capitals Insider:
The snowy weather and biting cold, provided by the good old city of Pittsburgh, is somehow a perfect backdrop to the deep, complicated emotions and existential conflicts of the brooding Russian soul.
One practically feels sentenced to ten years of hard labor in a Dostoyevsky novel. Of course, with all the Russian-generated hooplah of the upcoming game (and I have a way of knowing there is hooplah when my newspaper sends me to Pittsburgh for a regular season game) the opinions of four certain Capitals are of particular interest.
Tarik has already mentioned Ovechkin and the date of his last (alleged) conversation with Malkin. Alex seemed to be in a somewhat playful mood when he was answering these questions.
As for Semin, he pulled his patented I-have-someone-on-my-cell-phone-trick -- he has an uncanny ability to receive phone calls right before interviews he does not want to give. However, the older Russian contingent was nice enough to offer their take on the big game.
"You obviously want to hear about the personal rivalries," said Viktor Kozlov when we met after the team meeting this morning. "Yes, one of our boys has already said that Crosby is so-and-so, and see what happened. Actually, the hockey media are often starving for some kind of loud pronouncements, which are rare in our sport. So any phrase can be blown into God knows what. And here we have this little intrigue. In reality, I don't think that the guys are really going to get super fired-up to kill each other. It will be a good game between two good teams.
As for Ovechkin and Malkin, Kozlov said: "It looks like they really love each other, huh? Yes, the fans always like it when stars are whacking each other... I remember that Darius Kasparaitis was getting into stories like that too. But the difference is Darius was hitting everyone, doesn't matter if you are Russian or not."
Sergei Fedorov, whom I caught up with before he, Kozlov and Sergei Gonchar went out for lunch together, was also eager to make it a strictly media issue.
"The translation [of the Semin statements] was, to say the least, pretty weak," Sergei said.
When asked to clarify whether this was something that Semin himself told him, Sergei said: "This is something I am telling you. I think that they were translating it wrong. What Sasha said was said in the context of a normal, laid-back conversation. It sounded in the sense of, 'I like white, and someone else likes red'. That's it, no attacks at all. And really, no normal player would ever make a premeditated comment about other [NHL] player. All this stuff is not our problem. It's the problem of the media, of those who translate and of those who want to whip it up into something."
That would be us, of course. You have heard it here first: hockey players love blissful anonymity.
Malamud is a foreign correspondent for Sport-Express, Russia's sports publication, and is a contributor to Capitals Insider.
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