Sometimes I think that The Hockey News just exists to troll people. Today's post about how the Blues' Russians aren't "stereotypical" implies that fans should be both thankful and excited about that fact.
But what the hell is stereotypical?
Let's go on and throw out every thing you've heard Don Cherry or a Canadian or half the US say about Russian players: enigmatic, selfish, lazy, only interested in scoring, can't play defense, flashy, workmanlike, flashy workman, bad teammates, quiet, cold...
If I've missed any, just continue that in the comments thread.
According to Ryan Kennedy, the Blues' young prospects from this year's draft, Ivan Barbashev and Maxim Letunov, aren't stereotypical! He just never bothers to mention what that stereotype is. It's polite jingoism. "Here, I'm going to say that Russians are different and therefore inherently bad, but I'm going to joke about it and oh, hey! Letunov's playing at BU in a couple seasons so break that mold!"
This is something that was actually typed in Kennedy's article:
Barbashev is a 200-foot player who enjoys playing physical and took on a shutdown role with the world junior team, despite the scoring prowess that helped him finish second on the Quebec League’s Moncton Wildcats with 25 goals and 68 points in just 48 games. Scouts even joked that they didn’t believe he was Russian based on the way he plays the game.
Can we stop? Can we stop with all of this?
The Russians who defected in the late 80 and early 90s were quiet and workmanlike and enigmatic. They were that way because A) that's how their program taught them to be and B) many of them were basically political refugees with family still in the Soviet Union.
That image shouldn't apply to the new kids today, and it doesn't. The current crop of youthful Russians are enthusiastic and their enjoyment of the sport is infectious. Of course, when one of them does something enthusiastic they get chided like a little kid by Grumpy Uncle Don Cherry. What do people want out of them? When they're quiet and put their nose to the grindstone people call them enigmatic. When they love the sport people call them flashy and immature.
Seen and not heard? Foul. Brash and obviously love the game? Foul.
Hockey needs to get over this "let's talk about the Russians" thing and just have fun like the kids do.