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Semyon, Syoma, Sasha: A Russian Lesson

Today's guide to Russian pronunciations and nicknames is brought to you by Slava Malamud of Sport-Express:

Quickly now, is anyone's head swimming yet with all the spoken versions of the Caps' Russian goalie's name? Have you found yourself suddenly irritated by an ESPN announcer's insistence on accenting the first syllable despite the fact that you yourself were perfectly happy with this pronunciation just a few short weeks ago? Anyone Wikipedia-ing that crazy "e-umlaut" letter already? I feel your pain, comrades. Well, not really, but I try.

I know, I know, there used to be a better, simpler time. A time when Russia was something huge and scary, far, far away. A time when its language could be easily rendered in movies by a series of hissing and growling sounds. A time when its citizens were exposed only in the form of cute TV characters who made empty promises to bury capitalism and break comically inept Italian-American boxers. You could call them whatever the hell you wanted back then: Colonel Danko, Major Revko, Private Gregor Samsa -- it was all good.

But now, alas, is a different time. What with five Russian players busy turning Washington into a new (if a rather befuddled and reluctant) Hockeytown, USA, and a man in the White House whose daughter is named Sasha, the time may be now to get this thing sorted out, don't you think? Well, I am here to help. Let's get to it.

And as our first order of business, we shall reiterate for the last and final time: Semyon Varlamov (sem-YON var-LA-mov). Repeat it, learn it and when you meet someone who mispronounces it, have their Caps fan membership revoked instantly.

Well, at least Varly's becoming a "Simeon" cannot be blamed on geographically-challenged Americans. It was actually the Russian passport officials' fault. They had issued him a passport where his name was improperly transliterated as Semen. This had caused a few happy moments among the Hershey media corps until Varly's agent asked the Caps to change it to Simeon. In Russia, however, Simeon is a very obsolete, very biblical name. Varlamov has already stated that he wants to go with Semyon (his actual name) next year.

This, of course, isn't the only thing he can be called. A Russian diminutive for Semyon is Syoma, and he will gladly answer to that. The problem is, he won't be the only Caps player to do so, as Syoma is also what Alexander Semin is called by his Russian teammates. In his case, it is derived from his last name, which actually means "son of Semyon." Sort of like Brent Johnson being called Johnny, you see.

And, of course, this would be a perfect time to mention that Semin's last name is actually Syomin. Yes, SYO-min, that is how it is pronounced. When you say it SEH-min, you actually get something close to what "semen" is in Russian. Exciting, isn't it? We will chalk this one up to yet another mishap by the Russian passport service.

You can sidestep the whole thing by calling Varlamov Senya (which is another, folksier, diminutive for Semyon and something his father actually calls him) and calling Semin Sasha. Sasha, however, will also get you a reply from Alex Ovechkin as it is simply a Russian nickname for Alexander.

Yes, there are two Sashas on the Caps roster -- What are you going to do? If you are still feeling frisky enough after absorbing all this you can also call them Shurik, which is a slangish, more familiar way to call an Alexander. As far as I know, Ovechkin at least will respond to it. He will also respond to Ovtsa, if only by thumping you over the head.

Ovtsa is Russian for "sheep" and the name Ovechkin derives from the word ovechka, which means "little lamb." (Oh no, have I just given Pens fans some info they could do without?) Alex is perfectly fine with being called Sheep as long is it is his teammates who are doing the calling. He has had this nickname throughout his hockey career. And "Sheep happens," I guess, is something that opposing goalies have meanwhile been telling themselves.

Would it be too much to add that it is actually FYO-doh-rov and kaz-LOAF and not FEH-doh-rov and KOSS-loff? It would? Well then, let's just agree that anyone who still spells "Federov" should be forcibly exiled to Pittsburgh in 24 hours' time.

Here is wishing you a very happy Victory Day (May 9, celebrating our kicking of Hitler's you-know-what), your very own Russian expert Slava "No, You Can't Call Me SLAVE-AH" Malamud. Until next time!

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  May 3, 2009; 4:29 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Steckel: 'We Can't Always Start Behind the Eight Ball'
Next: Varlamov: No Longer a No-Name


Information is pretty accurate, but the condescending tone is pretty annoying. (from a fellow Russian speaker)

Posted by: VladG | May 3, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I have a headache.

Posted by: lavien | May 3, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Lighten up, Vlad... there really is no condescending tone, as a matter of fact it is quite the opposite. It's funny because of how people who grew up in the 70s or before were raised to think about Russians, and now we actually have a love affair with them, and LOVE the language.

You definitely took this wrong.

Great write up Tarik - thanks for all the info on the caps over the season. As someone who used to write daily about the US Soccer guys in Europe, I know how much time you put into this...nice work.

Posted by: Alisterio | May 3, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Wait, now I wonder...did Slava write this or just serve as Tarik's source/guide?

Posted by: Alisterio | May 3, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I would ask for some info on Malkins name, but I'll just call him "runner up."

Posted by: SA-Town | May 3, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Vyacheslav Malamud was sent here by Pens. :-)

Posted by: CodePoetry | May 3, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I think Slava wrote it and I very much enjoyed it. Thanks Slava!

Posted by: kyl1 | May 3, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Malamud's writing style is typical for small-time Russian papers, very annoying.

Posted by: yrb1 | May 3, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

ALso Varlamov means son of Varlaam.

Here we go, Varly is from Sudan!

Gender: Masculine
Usage: Russian
Other Scripts: Варлаам (Russian)
Russian form of BARLAAM

Gender: Masculine
Usage: Judeo-Christian Legend
Meaning unknown.

In Christian legends Barlaam was a 3rd-century hermit from Senaar (in modern day Sudan) who converted Josaphat, the son of an Indian king, to Christianity. This name was also borne by two saints.

Posted by: CodePoetry | May 3, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Ovi may be a little lamb but he's ram tough. (At least, the word "ram" for a male sheep is the one term related to sheep that gets respect.)

Odd thing. Kozlov is derived from the word for "goat". The biblical stories always talk about separating the sheep from the goats, but that doesn't work that way on the Caps front line. (Also, in the Bible, the sheep were on the right and the goats on the left.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

In one blog site, I had heard Semin refer to Ovi as "Sanya", yet another nickname for Alexander. (I've also seen "Shura" as still another Russian nickname for Alexander, as well.)

Odd note, when the Caps drafted Sasha Pokuluk, did they draft him because of his first name (since they had had such good luck with draft picks nicknamed Sasha; i.e. Semin and Ovi)?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I want the DET/AHA game to go to 5 overtimes.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Hey, can somebody tell me if the game is still on NBC?

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Sasha also a Russian nickname for Sergei? If not, then what is? What is a Russian nickname for Viktor? I thought I read somewhere that a diminutive form of Viktor is Vitya?

Posted by: capsfantess | May 3, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting a lot better at saying sem-YON var-LA-mov. Sometimes I'll get the first name wrong but the last name right, and vice versa. It's a difficult name, lol. I usually just call him Varly, it's a lot easier, and Varly is a cute nickname. =)

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Yes the game is still on. One minute left in the first overtime.

Posted by: MKadyman | May 3, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

going to the 2nd OT in det

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | May 3, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse


Nickname for Sergei:


(I had to look that one up.)

And, yes, Vitya, is the Russian nickname for Viktor. (Of course, I've seen Caps fans on the boards refer to him as "Big Vick")

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I think trying to pronounce Semin's name the "right way" is too much for me.

SEH-min forever.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Slava Malamud - nice article....i found it very interesting and mind-boggling.

But i thought the correct way was var-lam (ryhmes with bomb)-ov.

But, it's var-LA-mov ? (isn't that what the fans started with?

heck, i can't hardly speak english! L0L

Posted by: dezlboy1 | May 3, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I once had a grade school classmate with the last name of Semon. Gee, I wonder what was the family's country of origin. Could it have possibly been Russia and, if so, was the original last name the same as a certain forward on the Caps?

BTW, I like Semin a LOT better than I liked that classmate.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

dezlboy1: It's Var-LAH-mov... before us fans were saying it the "American way," Varlamov.

I'm just sticking to Varly. =)

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse


Until the recent corrections in the pronunciation, most fans probably accented the first syllable of Varlamov instead of the second.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse


It really doesn't matter, as long as you are emphasizing the second syllable and not the first. The emphasis is not on VAR, it's just on LA. Doesn't really matter if you want it to me LA, LA, or LAM.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse


Don't blame you (for sticking with Varly).

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Pasha Datsyuk !

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

This game Monday will be very important. It is not that we should feel doomed if we lose. But if we win, we will know that it was not a random win and we would not be repeating the same pattern as with our win against Philly last year. We will know we have made progress and the team's confidence will increase.

I (like most people) am still waiting to see if Varly can maintain his success through new challenges and for the long run. If he takes us far in the series and proves consistent, nothing will be impossible for this team.


Neuvy would like you to stop wasting time worrying about the correct pronunciation of Varly's name and concentrate, instead, on pronouncing his name correctly. He has been patient watching you heave praises on another goalie (not nearly as cute as he is)and now wants to see some sign of your commitment to him, like moving to Hershey.

Seriously, though, it will be such a dream team when we have the Neuvy-Varly duo (NewVar) together.

Posted by: caraveli | May 3, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Trade Neuvy.

We don't need him. Sorry rachel.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Ovi was not the first Russian I've had affinity for in my life. The first one was the character on Star Trek named Pavel Chekov.

With the new Star Trek movie coming out late this week (and being a long time Trekaholic), I couldn't resist stating that fact.

Interesting parallels. The original Chekov (Walter Koenig) was born under the sign of Virgo, same sign as Ovi. The new Chekov in the new movie (Anton Yelchin) is a Pisces, like Semin. I always felt that Chekov probably played youth hockey. If he had been a hockey player, he'd probably have some similarities to Ovi and Semin.

Other oddity, I once read a Star Trek novel where many of the security team were named after members of the Pittsburgh Pens circa 1990. (Nice to name characters after hockey players -- just the wrong team.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse


Yep, Pasha Datsyuk! (Too bad he's not on the Caps.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Pasha Chekov.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

"Oh no, have I just given Pens fans some info they could do without?"

this is assuming that they can read, Slava.

Posted by: DER27 | May 3, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

On Neuvirth, the first part of his last name comes from the German word "new" pronounced "noy" as in annoy.

During his time on the Caps, I kept referring to him as the "new kid on the block" with the first part of his name meaning "new". He had a great debut and I kept saying that the "new kid proved his worth."

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"new kid proved his worth."

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:05 PM |

Haha, Capsfan75 is here all night folks!

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse


Yes, Chekov's nickname is Pasha. I've called him that in fan fiction I've written. I saw an old script where his Russian girlfriend did address him as Pasha but it didn't get filmed that way.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse


It's still only 6:00 p.m. Not yet night time.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Sasha Mogilny? Pasha Bure?

Pasha fits for Datsyuk, but it seems a little too soft for the likes of Bure.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Since the Detroit/Anaheim game is still going on, I was thinking about Chris Pronger and how he has such a perfect fit last name. You can almost hear the "prong" sound as he makes a hard hit on another player. A little onomotopeia (?) here.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Haha, that one was clever. He is from Czech, correct? Or Slovakia? Or is he old enough to be Czechoslovakian?

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse


I once saw a web site for Pavel Bure where they did call him "Pasha".

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Actually Pronger's from Canada. Or were you asking about Neuvirth? On the Bears' web site, he's listed as being from the Czech Republic. (What year did Czechoslovakia break up anyhow?)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

lol, shots on goal are 62 to 44.

They've played almost two games.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Definitely talking about Neuvrith. I am guessing around the same year the wall fell?

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75..... 1/1/93

Posted by: roccky | May 3, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Who will win, Wings or Ducks?

I am going with Ducks, they need it more.

Posted by: CodePoetry | May 3, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone find the strange parallels between Varlamov and the Ducks situation in 05-06 with Giggy and Bryzgalov?

Starters pulled in 1st round....rookie, both Russian too!, pull strong in the first and second rounds. Unfortunately, Bryzgalov collapsed in the 3rd round and was replaced by Giggy. Let's see Varlamov not make this parallel that apparent....

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for the info on the Czech breakup. I was a bit fuzzy but thought it was after 1990.


So, in answer to your question, Neuwirth was old enough to be Czechoslovakian, even if very briefly.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

"Oh no, have I just given Pens fans some info they could do without?"

Pens fans? Well, some of them yes, but also many morons everywhere including the Washington Area.

Posted by: opita1 | May 3, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Caraveli: =) Michal's name is much easier to prounounce. It's Noy-virt. Don't worry, I'm still thinking about Neuvy even though he's in Hershey. One day when he is up here with the Caps, I will meet him. I would like him to move up here instead. I 100% agree with you about the Neuvy-Varly duo, what a dream come true!

richmondphil: I totally disagree. What's wrong with having Varly and Neuvy together?

This game is crazy!! Go Ahaheim!

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

YAY Ducks!

Posted by: BlondeCapsFan | May 3, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

I am Oracle

Posted by: CodePoetry | May 3, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

You can hear Semin and Kozlov pronounced in this video

Posted by: decoy13 | May 3, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Ducks win

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Meatloaf great great father is from Russia, his real name is Kozloaf, which means Meatloaf made from goat's meat.

Posted by: CodePoetry | May 3, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Jonas Hiller had one heck of a game. He had 59 saves... that will pad his stats greatly.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I kinda want to hear the Booth echoing with "Sen-ya! Sen-ya!". I'll bet the kid would love it after what his name's been through.
NHL nicknames used to count for something--like Turk Sanderson and Izzy Goodenough. All this 'first-syllable-plus-y' is probably a Bettman thing.

Posted by: redlineblue | May 3, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse


I see the Ducks won in overtime! This is so crazy! Will the Ducks actually upset the Wings right after upseting the Sharks?

(I like some of the Wings players but this is an amazing performance by the Ducks.) I guess naming a team for a make-believe youth hockey team in the movies was inspired. Yes, I took my elder daughter to all three of the "Mighty Ducks" movies when she was younger. (She's nearly a year younger than Sasha Semin.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse


I think the first syllable plus "y" isn't just limited to Bettman but prevalent in America in general. The baseball player, Manny Sanguillen was called "Sangy". (I think the last name Sanguillen means "Saint William".)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse


Are you referring to the singer "Meatloaf" or do you just not care much for Viktor Kozlov?

I assume you derived your name from Ovi once wanting a girl to be his "Code of Poetry" or something like that.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse


Your post "quack" reminds me of a scene in the "Mighty Ducks" movie where some of the kids were taunting other kids by saying "quack" and then they got punished by having to write "I must not quack in school" on the blackboard many times.

When the Ducks coach saw that he said, "You really are Ducks!"

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan75: It seems the Ducks were trying not to lose the game were just waiting to jump on an opportunity... good for them, they got the win. I think Detroit still wins the series but Jonas Hiller is really good and he can steal some games for the Ducks.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Even if they don't get Varlamov's name right, American announcers have come a long way since Rendez-vous '87. I recall certain well-known Soviet players being referred to on ESPN as Sergei "MACK-er-ov," Alexei "Kuh-SAT-u-nov," Vyacheslav "FET-i-sov," etc.....I cringe in retrospect. Even Don Cherry doesn't butcher them that severely.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 3, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse


Detroit is now in the same boat the Caps were last series (not to mention where the Sharks were). Results for the Caps and Sharks were obviously different. The Caps came back from the deficit and won in 7. The Sharks lost in 6.

Rachel, you once mentioned you're a HS junior. Will you probably be facing tons of AP exams next year? My younger daughter, a senior, starts facing them this week. Oh, joy!

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan75: You're exaclty right. In fact, I just took the SATs this past Saturday and got home right at 1:10, right in time to watch the Caps! It was really hard to concentrate, cause in my head I kept on thinking, Caps, Caps, Caps. =)

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Here is a bit for all you guys who moaned about the deadline. (There were tons and tons of you, don't run away now.)

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan75: How are the Wings in the same boat as the Caps and Sharks last round? Those teams started 0-2 at home--this series is tied 1-1.

Posted by: acesdc | May 3, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I think I see more parallels with the canes cup run then with the ducks. Down 3-1 in the first round, come back to win with rookie goalies, then go on to win the cup. Hope our run ends the same way. Lets go Caps!!!

Posted by: JSeagull1 | May 3, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

i'm glad he didn't make any stupid moves at the deadline - which is what i was calling for then. somehow i don't think this would sway some of the GMGM haters here.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | May 3, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Ward parellel does not count.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Carlson scored in Hershey.. Bears win 3-1

Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 3, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse


My bad, what can I say? For some reason, I thought the Ducks had won Game 1 of the series. (Too many games, too many sports, too many things outside of sports to keep track of, etc. in general.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Apparently Alzner and Sloan were sick and didn't play.. maybe they have the swine flu!

Didn't matter because Osala, Carlson(!) and Graham Mink scored in the first period.

And Neuvirth had a shut-out spoiled with less than two minutes left in the game.

Bears lead the series 2-0 and are 6-0 in the playoffs.


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 3, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse


Yes, I recall how so many people were so upset that no trade was made this year. People were clamoring more for a trade at that time since the team was mired in a slump and had obvious weaknesses (goal tending, defense).

But I could see out GM's point of view. There's no point in making a trade if it would be too costly. And, this year's set of trades would have probably been that. The other teams were wanting the Caps prospects in return.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey! Bears over the Baby Penguins, 3-1 tonight to put them at 2-0 for the series. WooT! Goals scored by:

* Osala
* Carlson
* Mink

and for the opposition:

* Goligoski at 18:04 in the 3rd.

I was at the game last night. Great game; lousy officiating. I saw several missed calls, and apparently I wasn't alone, since the referees received a chant of B-U-L-L-S-*-*-T! BULLS**T! midway through the third frame... I've been up to several Bears games this season, and that's only the second time I've heard that happen...

BUNCH of penalties tonight - total of 16 of them! Pretty rough game, by the look of the rap sheet.

Posted by: irockthered | May 3, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

How could richmondphil throw Neuvy away? ='( He's doing so well in Hershey. The Bears just keep on humming right along. They haven't lost a playoff game yet.

Neuvy's stats in the playoffs: 1.67 GAA, SV%-.942

I think Varly and Neuvy will complement each other very well. Neuvy is a more calm goalie, not as flashy but always in position. Varly is more flashy and athletic. They are both good.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

TheRealOneal: Really? Awww, that really sucks for Neuvy. =(

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm ready to see Boston lose a playoff game. :)

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Still have one game to go tonight but the pattern is emerging: home team wins openers, visiting team responds. I guess when you get down to the elite of the league - and all eight qualify for that adjective by still being alive - it's tough to win two in-a-row. We'll see what happens in Beantown tonight. It's going to be another great game tomorrow night; I think every game in this series is a pick 'em.

And from earlier - I'd keep Neuvy and not resign Brent. I'm fine with two young goaltenders developing in D.C. next season.

Posted by: saintex | May 3, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I was joking about the trade Neuvy comment.

If things go as we want them with Varlamov, we won't have to deal with this question until much later.

Having a deep goalie depth chart is nice and all, but overkill is overkill. (see Ducks and Sharks a few years ago)

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse


I'm glad you enjoyed the Bears playoff game. And that the series is going so well.

It's probably not as feasible for me to go to the Bears' games since I live about 2 hours away. (My guess.)

What's wrong with Alzner and Mink? Flu?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

And from earlier - I'd keep Neuvy and not resign Brent. I'm fine with two young goaltenders developing in D.C. next season.

Posted by: saintex | May 3, 2009 7:49 PM |

We still have Theo for another year. And remember, that is two big contracts we will have to deal to two different, essentially, #1 goalies later. Time will tell.
Like I said, if Varlamov develops the way we all want him too, there is no point to keep Neuvy. Let him go play #1 on another team, and get a bunch of goodies for him.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I mean, what's wrong with Alzner and Sloan? Mink did play.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha I just watched a video on the Bears blog and the vid was asking what the Bears need to do to beat the baby Pens and someone said "shoot at the net." No, duhhhhhh. :)

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Phil: You didn't sound like you were joking. But good.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

"I mean, what's wrong with Alzner and Sloan?"

They are reported as having the so-called "flu," although whether that means actual flu or just a fever and such, who knows. "The flu" has become a generic catch-all term for "something worse than a cold" these days.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 3, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Rachel.. the baby Penguins scored with 1:56 remaining. Hopefully somebody who went to the game will come on here with more details on whether it was a b-s goal, etc.

Neuvirth isn't going anywhere. Here's why -- Varlamov looks fantastic.. and so did Jim Carey.

I saw his games in person several times, and he was truly unbelievable. If he could have kept it together, the Caps may have won multiple Stanley Cups. Those of you who saw him play live will agree with me.

But he couldn't keep it together; most people think his mind got scrambled by the Penguins in the playoffs, and he could never recover.

So, developing goalies is a tricky unpredictable game. Having two guys in the organization with this much potential should be looked at as an insurance policy.

Odds are that one of them will flame out, and not reach his potential. The other one would then be depended upon to be the Caps goalie for the next 10 years.. or maybe not.

I view both of them as way, way before their prime -- anything they accomplish this year is gravy.


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 3, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

If Varlamov is ready now, then there is no point to hang on to Neuvy. That was my sarcastic seems we have our #1 already. But of course, we don't really. I and others have brought up Jim Carey a million times already on here. I even brought up the Bryzgalov parallel in this post.

If both of them developed the way we want them too, one( Neuvy) will be gone in a few years. bottom line.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I hope that's how it works out, Phil. In a couple years Neuvy -- assuming Varlamov continues to tear it up -- could bring huge value in a trade.

The pressing question is what to do about Theodore next season.

He's got one year left at 4.5 million, and there are several teams that need a number one goalie. (Edmonton comes to mind)

If McPhee could get that contract off the books the Caps cap would be a lot easier to deal with.

That's my preference.. Varlamov as #1 and then re-sign Brent Johnson as the back-up. Have Neuvirth play the majority of the games in Hershey, along with some in DC.

But that's all down the road. The Penguins are going to come out guns blazing in Game 2.. We could learn a lot more about Varlamov on Monday.


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 3, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree with richmondphil. Let Varly and Neuvy share the net next season (like we did with Olie and Dafoe in the early days). Let's see who emerges as our #1.

Didn't Anaheim want Varly AND Alzner AND Carlson for Pronger? I wouldn't have given up any ONE of those, let alone ALL 3. Pronger would have been nice but not at that price.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | May 3, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Carlson was in for the bears tonight?

Must look and see if Finley played also...

Good to see Kronwall playing a big role down there also, I for one am not certain that he will be stuck in the AHL next year.

Posted by: caps28fan | May 3, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Lindsay.

To avoid confusion, I'd add an "H" to the pronunciation so it's var-LAH-mov instead of var-LA-mov. Otherwise, people may still pronounce it the same way without drawing out the "A" in "LA."


Posted by: hype1 | May 3, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

@richmond, I guess I was just choosing between Neuvy and Johnson. I wonder what will happen with JT60 next year. If the Caps buy him out is that only a 50% for us? I really can't imagine the GM keeping JT here next season and paying the full bill. (I'm asking on the CBA money, I don't know.) I like JT but I'll pay him 2.3 to move along and use that money for others. Business is business, if that's the case.

Posted by: saintex | May 3, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget we have another goalie in the system that has gotten some pretty good press:
Braden Holtby
Hershey will be using him a bit more next year I believe

Posted by: caps28fan | May 3, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse


Finley went back to North Dakota to finish up his college degree.

I assume the next time we see him will be at the rookie camp.. I think that's in July?


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 3, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching the Canes v. Bruins and after the first period on TSN the insider is reporting that there's a ton of interest in Ray Emery right now. Really? Christ, I got some goalies here in D.C. we can move that won't get in a fight with your trainers. Emery? Wow.

Posted by: saintex | May 3, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

i missed that on Finley, thanks for the update.

Posted by: caps28fan | May 3, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

and, that's not a huge knock on JT or Brent, but if you are looking for an NHL goalie then I'd much rather take a shot with either of those two than that freak show.

Posted by: saintex | May 3, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

A 2-0 series lead for us most likely means a game 3 loss in Pittsburgh. But I'm still confident we get this done in 5.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of rookie camp (yes and I presume in July again).
I don't remember was it Dunn, Holtby or both that were at camp this year?

Posted by: caps28fan | May 3, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

aigh! nothing means a loss here or there - every game is a 50/50 shot and nothing is due. No reason to think we can't win game 2 and game 3.

Posted by: saintex | May 3, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse


The Varlamov-Carey comparison is not convincing to me ("Varlamov looks fantastic.. and so did Jim Carey") As I understand it, he graduated from U of Wisconsin in 94 and was immediately drafted by Portland Pirates & the Caps, and played only for the Caps less than a year after he was drafted.

Varly was drafted by the Caps in 2006, came to Hershey in 2008-09 but has been playing with Yaroslavl since 2004. He had already played in 153 games, including world's, by the time he came to Hershey. It looks to me that his GAA and save percentage have been consistently good.

Having said this, I will grant you that elite athletes can unravel if the emotional and physical foundations are not there or, at least, have significant up and downs. It is still mystifying to me how goalies who were stellar in playoffs or Vezina trophy recipients one year(like Oswood, Ward, Huet, Theodore etc.) can be mediocre or terrible another year. Or young stars like Price and even Mason, can be less than stellar in playoffs.

For sure it will take time until we know if Varly's success is sustainable and consistent but, I think, there are good indication.

Is anyone knowledgeable about various patterns in goalie performance and what it takes to be reliable for the long run? It seems to me that the Carey situation is an anomaly rather than a pattern and, if so, it is not a good measure for making comparisons. Can someone give us some perspective?

Posted by: caraveli | May 3, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree 100% to have Varly/Johnny next year. If they can anything for Theo, would be great. Actually maybe someone has a similarly overpriced player (like a d-man) and you do it like that.

Erskine signing is looking very good. They might bring Jurcina back too. And Mo, at worst, signs an offer and you get the picks.

Malamud's article failed to give the Russian translation for "Cros-bee."

"One who lives in Commissar's basement."

Posted by: tominfl1 | May 3, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the intangibles for the Vezina has much to do with the D playing in front of them and maintaining the same D through out each season.
Am I going to research no, but just curious how much of it is the system or D and how much of it is the goalie.

Would Backstrom/Mason/Thomas/Luongo be as good on the Islanders or Tampa?

Just a thought

Posted by: caps28fan | May 3, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

hey guys, quick question.
to those of us who don't get Versus, what channel will Game 2 be broadcast in?

i'm looking at my comcast tv listings on the dish network interactive guide, and it says there's some college baseball game on tomorrow night, followed by caps postgame.
this is gonna suck if they only have it on Versus and not on any local channel.

Posted by: kman2 | May 3, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Just in: Tarik should be pronounced Ta-RIK, not TA-rik

Posted by: CodePoetry | May 3, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

caps28fan, the number of on the Norris trophy nominees are enlightening. When taking TOI and translating to 60 minutes game, Lidstrom is 2.14, Green 2.18, and Chara 2.32. What interesting is the idea that the Caps goalies and defense were the weakest links all season - and Boston was lockdown - yet the numbers don't tell that story. We laughed (at times) about Green's defensive abilities but the numbers don't support that - his goals against numbers are very good. Add in his offense, and it's intriguing.

Mason saw 20% fewer shots per game than JT60 this season, and at a 90% save percentage, that makes a huge difference. Mason is good but the system certainly helps.

Posted by: saintex | May 3, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

It is still mystifying to me how goalies who were stellar in playoffs or Vezina trophy recipients one year(like Oswood, Ward, Huet, Theodore etc.) can be mediocre or terrible another year

that's an easy one: their names are not either Roy or Brodeur.

until a goalie can put in four or five years of 35-45 wins - they all just have potential - see names listed above

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | May 3, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

cool, Carolina with a shortie

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, those numbers above are goals against while on ice over a 60 minute game.

Posted by: saintex | May 3, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse


My wife is from Ukraine, and she recommends not to call Ovie or Semin "shurik." Shurik is a nickname that is usually used by people close to the Alexander. However, it has more of a "cutesy" like a cute doggie, or little boy. But as a man, it is not considered masculine. Ovechkin might not appreciate it, but might tolerate it- but it should not be encouraged, because it is usually considered a private nickname. On Russian sites, he is referred to as Sasha or Alex.

Posted by: rjuebersezig | May 3, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

If Carolina wins, every series will be 1-1.. oh no.. please Caps, make this 2-0, they must have a better start tomorrow.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Have faith, Rachel. We ahve the better team.

Posted by: Sonyask | May 3, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Can we simply refer to Jim Carey as "He Who Must Not Be Named"?

Posted by: Kenbeatrizz | May 3, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse


The NHL alumni association is littered with goalies who were supposed to be The Next Big Thing. Jocelyn Thibault and Felix Potvin spring to mind..

And even today -- What do you do with Carey Price or Kari Lehtonen if you're Montreal or Atlanta? Are you ready to give up on what you thought was The Next Big Thing?

I agree that Varlamov has a unique background, and I hope it will help him continue on the path that he's on right now. Especially Monday.

But barring injury or any other unforseen problems, I would expect to have both Varlamov and Neuvirth in the Caps organization for at least the next three years.

But you never know..


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 3, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

So are we saying Ovechkin correctly, or are we being duped there as well?

And how DO you pronounce Malkin, then?

We've got Crysby down pat.

Posted by: oo7 | May 3, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

is that in or not?? wow, for once I have no decision at all.. seems in on the side angle, but the above angle it doesn't look so

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

More than 10 minute review.. this is a tough decision.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 3, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I have another question: Russians have their own alphabet so why aren't we just spelling their names phonetically anyway? Why not just spell it "Syomin" like it sounds instead of Semin? Its not even written like that anyway. Kozloaf seems fine by me. Wouldn't it be Fyodoroaf, since 'ov' isn't 'off' but 'oaf'?

I'll take my question off air, thank you.

Posted by: oo7 | May 3, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

re: goalies,
lets not forget that there have been some significant equipment changes for goalies in the past few years. some guys who did well with bigger pads (some have suggested this is how theo got by) may not do so well in the new nhl. its also a more offensive league w/ less allowance for dmen to slow up the forwards, not to mention more powerplays etc. all point to less sucess for goalies.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 3, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't impressed with Neuvie in the few games he played in the NHL. If I recall correctly, he had a few pretty bad games. I guess I'd go with Varly and Johnson next season and see if we can trade Theodore.

Posted by: Thundershock | May 3, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

One game and we already getting to cindy. no one would have said that about JT.

Crosby said to make it more difficult on Varlamov they had to get more bodies at the net.

"He's a big guy (6-foot-1, 183 pounds)," said Crosby. "He challenges. He's pretty good with his feet. Every goalie is different, but with goalies nowadays you need traffic. You have to make sure you get guys there for second opportunities. That's how you have success against anyone."

Posted by: samb99 | May 3, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

That was definetely a goal.

Bad call.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Quite a few people have said that about JT.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse


Interesting points are ones that some of the sportswriters at that time asked themselves:

"Did Washington's suffocating defensive system make Carey look better than he really is? Did Boston's terrible defense make him look worse than he really is? Carey calmly insists he can make any adjustments necessary. He had better be right, because at the tender age of 23, Carey went into the off-season as the only experienced goalie in the [Boston] system." (The Hockey News 1997-98 Yearbook, p. 75)

Carey's story has all the makings of an ancient Greek tragedy. It is bigger than life in its rise and fall but does not seem typical. Is there another such story?

Are goalies more prone to inconsistency that other positions, I wonder? But then what about Nylander and others like him.

I really hope that Varly is the real deal and that he has the mental stamina to withstand the pressures. Already, he is at the center of attention and there are so many expectations on him. As someone said, we will know more Monday.

Posted by: caraveli | May 3, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

My first Russian was "The Man from UNCLE"'s Illya [sic] Kuryakin; Ens. Pavel Chekov came later.

And yes, we're also mangling Ovechkin, but I'll leave the transliteration to Slava. Or you could YouTube it; there's a video posted.

Posted by: OvechkinFan92801 | May 3, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I accept these pronunciation rules. But don't forget the NHL has a linguistic history of its own.

The only name you need call our goalie is "Varly." This league is predicated upon nicknames-- almost always ending in the "ee" sound.

Posted by: drischord | May 3, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Is there another such story?

Maybe not quite as epic as Vezina to nothing, but it happens all the time. Highly touted goalies can get ruined if not handled delicately.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

agreed, phil. I don't know how that call was made. it should have been a goal.

Posted by: oo7 | May 3, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Ward just had about 5 amazing saves in a 5 second time span.


Posted by: richmondphil | May 3, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

what BB's yearly salary? Anyone know?

Posted by: oo7 | May 3, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse


Washington did have a good defense, but Carey made absolutely MIND-BOGGLING saves, left and right.

I remember him making the defense better because if they made a mistake he was there. Nine shut-outs that season. He was off the hook, insane, ice cold, crazy good. The building was in shock on a regular basis.

Then the Curse of Scott Stevens hit.


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 3, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I think Tarik's russian diminutive name is "Tasha".

I grew up with an eastern european name ; no one from those parts is ever addressed by their "official" name. In fact, most of those languages have different spellings of the name (declensions) for specific situations. But if anyone ever called me by my name as it was spelled, it felt weird.

Posted by: WritingLight | May 3, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Carey was an enigma if there ever was one. I don't even like to talk about it. It still feels weird. What happened? Where did his game go? It was like Hasek suddenly becoming a sieve. Bizarre. He was a messiah in net, and then... what? what happened? Send Wise out to uncover THAT story. Still makes me sad.

Posted by: oo7 | May 3, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse


You must be about as old as I am -- to remember "Man From Uncle" and "Star Trek" in their original days. I sometimes watched "Man From Uncle" but I was much more of a sci-fi fan and, thus, more of a Star Trek fan. I do recall plenty of girls who had mega-crushes on Kuryakin.

I became more attached to Chekov, as things developed. (Kuryakin did predate Chekov but the latter was the first Russian I got attached to.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 3, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

In an early interview with Varlamov, with Fedorov translating, I thought I heard Sergei refer to Sasha as "Sashka". Is that yet another Russian diminuitive for Alexander?

Posted by: holliden | May 3, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

@oo7 - The media has a transliteration guide that they use, and (as it has done in the past - notably with the name Qadafi) transliterations do occasionally change. However, most of the errata we're seeing with our guys appear to be coming from the Russian passport service...

I hope that Syomin gets his transliteration straightened out, but he's been SEMin for so long in this country that I don't see it happening, unfortunately... The problem, as I see it, is found when looking at the Russian spelling I've seen on T-shirts and jerseys... ("СEМИН")... If "Syomin" is the proununciation, then the E should be Ё, but that's not what we have on the shirts, and that makes a difference, too.

Unlike the Roman alphabet, where E, and É and È are one letter with an accent, E and Ё are two separate letters in Cyrillic.

It's the complication of transliterating from a language you know well (in this case, Russian) to one you may not know as well (English). There are 33 letters in the Cyrillic alphabet, which complicates matters further - what do you do when you run across a letter that doesn't directly transliterate? Basically, they're making a best-guess, and it's not always accurate.

As a side note, I can think of a number of players in the NHL whose names sound nothing like how they're spelled: Dustin Byfuglien (who is actually American-born!)'s surname is pronounced "BUHF-lihn"... and then there's Jonathan Toews (TAVES)... Khabibulin has a silent K... and that's just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are tons of others.

And down at the University of Maryland, Talliaferro Hall is pronounced "Tolliver" - and they look at you funny if you try the Italianesque pronunciation of the name, and go, "where?!"

Posted by: irockthered | May 3, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75 - E-mail me privately at irockthered {at} gmail {dot} com -- I live about 2 hours away from Hershey, and we've managed to go to about seven or eight games this season. We usually, on the weekends, stay overnight in Hershey and come back the next day, but we've done weeknight games, too, under special circumstances (most notably, "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" and for important games...)

Posted by: irockthered | May 3, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Let us not forget that Locker kept talking about "Varmalov" for at least the duration of his first game with the Caps. JoeB was needling him about it.

Posted by: chrisd3 | May 3, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

On Varly/Neuvy: I keep hearing that the folks in the Caps system aren't convinced that Varlamov is the better goalie. And as I recall, the main reason we saw more of Varly this year was that Neuvy was hurt for a while.

However it shakes out, it's a very nice problem to have.

Posted by: chrisd3 | May 3, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

And down at the University of Maryland, Talliaferro Hall is pronounced "Tolliver" - and they look at you funny if you try the Italianesque pronunciation of the name, and go, "where?!"

You might be mildly interested to know that Jets' quarterback in the mid-60s was Mike Taliaferro, and it was also pronounced "Tolliver". He lost his job to some guy named Namath.

Posted by: chrisd3 | May 3, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the best Capitals Insider posts I've ever read. Informative and highly entertaining.

But I will say, when an athlete moves to and becomes famous (and highly paid) in another country, he'll usually go by what the natives call him.

That being said, I think that when pronouncing Semyon Varlamov, we should try to get it right -- but that the Americanized "Varly" is pretty much pure gold.

Varly forever.

Posted by: scrappledog | May 4, 2009 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Slow news day eh?

Posted by: MPNangle | May 4, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

"And down at the University of Maryland, Talliaferro Hall is pronounced 'Tolliver' - and they look at you funny if you try the Italianesque pronunciation of the name, and go, 'where?!'"

There's a dorm at William & Mary for which exactly the same is true (my brother lived there his first year).

Regarding Semin/Syomin and Fedorov/Fyodorov, has either player ever expressed a preference for the latter? If not, then I think it's a non-issue. It's the player's name, after all.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 4, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I had always wondered about Fedorov. Given that Fedor is a pretty common name and I know how its pronounced, it always bugged me. This isn't just a Russian problem. Remember Robert Lang (pronounced the way you think) When he was a rookie, it was pronounced Long, which is closer to accurate, but I believe he adoted an English version. (Not unique to hockey, ethier. There's a PGA Tour player from Sweden who's name is Peterson, but its actually "Petterson" in Swedish. In Euope, they use that, here, its Peter-son.)

Posted by: oldtimehockey | May 4, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Great article.
U definitely don't get this type of intelligent knowledge transfer in Sucksburg - capital of the dummy free world.

Posted by: Rocc00 | May 4, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Sergey Viktorovich Fyodorov

Posted by: Rocc00 | May 4, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

just for the record: a better example would be pvt. ivan chonkin, a certified fictional russian soldier, rather than pvt. gregor samsa, a fictional but certified czech (and not known to have been a soldier...)

Posted by: a-littlebird-ptolemy | May 4, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Also Niklas Bäckström is said in swedish as like "Beckstroom" but here now in the NHL they call him "Backstrum"

Posted by: musicburgler | May 4, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey, CapsFan75 -- You may be too young to remember also the character Ilya Kuriakin (spelling escapes me) from the series, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

Posted by: luv2bikva | May 4, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

To 1995hoo: That whole Taliaferro/Tolifer Hall thing at UMd was a ploy to weed out the true freshmen from the upperclassmen. [And those who went through orientation vs. those who did not.]


Posted by: luv2bikva | May 4, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey, how about a primer on how to say Tarik El-Bashir properly.

Posted by: JSinFrance | May 4, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't bother to memorize these, because you all are going to be pronouncing much more often good old-fashioned Canadian farm-boy names in the Cup playoffs - Getzlaf, Perry, Pronger....

Posted by: pgr88 | May 4, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

To add to the language fun, "oveja" is the Spanish word for sheep (the J is pronounced like the H in hotel). Wonder where the commonality between ovechka and oveja came from.

As to Russian and English: transliteration is a tricky thing, and English is a language where vowels have many different sounds, as opposed to a language like Spanish, where a vowel always has the same unique sound (pretty much). Russian has two letters that look like Roman alphabet e's, written differently and with different sounds. The one that looks like the regular Roman alphabet "e" usually sounds more like "ee-eh". The one that looks like a backwards "e" usually sounds more like "eh"

Posted by: kawena | May 4, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I already covered this, but a funny article nevertheless.

@ irockthered

Syomin's last name is correcly spelled in Russian as "СЁМИН". As I've said before the umlaut is often dropped because all native Russian speakers instinctively know where it's supposed to be.

BTW, Khabibulin doesn't have a silent K in his name. KH is what's used to transliterate the Russian letter that looks like X and is pronounced as a hard H so whenever you see KH in a Russian name it should be pronounced as a hard H sound, but almost always it's pronounced as a K sound. They must've started saying his name Kabi-boolin and he corrected them.

By the way, since we're on the topic of correct pronunciation of Capitals' players names Michal Neuvirth's name has been completely butchered here. It's really pronounced MEE-hal NOY-veert.

Posted by: ranndino | May 4, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

BTW, whoever wrote the NHL pronunciation guide is using the accepted Americanized pronunciations and not the correct ones. For example, I was curious to see how they tell people to pronounce Zdeno Chara and it's like his name is pronounced here which is really incorrect. It should be pronounced Zdeno (not Zee-denyo... no vowel between Z and D, sorry) HAra (not CHA-ra). The CH in Czech and Slovak is also a hard H sound very similar to the KH in the transliteration of Russian names (see above).

If Mike Wise ever does another video reply thingie I'll post a reply where I say all the Caps Russian names exactly as they sound in Russian, and maybe some others. I've always been fascinated with phonetics so know way too much about all this. For example, Peter Forsberg is most correctly pronounced as PET-er FOSH-bay.

Posted by: ranndino | May 4, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Slava, thank you for a great article. It was interesting for me to read it. Being a student of Russian, I always ask my teacher on correct pronunciation of Russian names: sport figures, political leaders, writers, etc. Now when I can read Cyrillic (Russian), I have little problem saying them right, don't need to deal with transliteration any more. If any of you want to get some Russian advice and expertise, I would highly recommend the company I am using for studying Russian called Prime Language Services: They have great teachers, who will help you master Russian names or anything else in Russian.

Posted by: RussianStudent | May 5, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Слава, спасибо! / Slava, thank you. (Practicing my Russian skills. :))

Posted by: RussianStudent | May 5, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

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