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Alexander Burmistrov signs with Ak-Bars Kazan

According to a report from the KHL’s English Twitter feed this morning, it appears as though recently retired from the NHL forward Alexander Burmistrov has found himself a new home in time for the new year.

Burmistrov will be joining Ak-Bars Kazan of the KHL, who he played for just two and a half years ago after leaving the Winnipeg Jets in the 2013 off-season. His history with the franchise goes even further back than that, though, as Burmistrov played there in his draft-minus-one season for just one game and their second-tier team for 41 games. In total, Burmistrov has 108 KHL games under his belt and has amassed 64 points (20 goals and 44 assists) in that span.

It’s a shame it’s come to this for Burmistrov. When Canucks general manager Jim Benning signed the talented, albeit volatile Russian forward in the off-season, it seemed a savvy move for both sides.

Burmistrov was stepping into a position where players in his age group (Burmistrov’s only 26) were significantly valued to help bridge the gap to a new core. His defensive chops meant he should have had utility at the bottom of the Canucks lineup and on the penalty kill. It also reunited Burmistrov with Canucks assistant coach Newell Brown, who was an assistant with the Arizona Coyotes a season prior, where Burmistrov enjoyed some success offensively in a 26 game span.

Of course, it wasn’t to be. Burmistrov started the season well enough and even seemed to have some chemistry alongside Sam Gagner and Jake Virtanen that carried over from the pre-season. For whatever reason, though, Burmistrov seemed to work himself out of the coach’s good graces. His role seemed to decline progressively as the season wore on, and in fairness to the coach, Burmistrov did little if anything to stop that rolling tide from sweeping him off his feet and out of the Canucks lineup.

In 24 games with the Canucks, Burmistrov had six points (two goals and four assists) and was about a 47% shot share player at five-on-five. It’s not much, but it’s probably better than most gave him credit. For example, Burmistrov’s production is equal to Markus Granlund if you prorate the games played difference, and Granlund played about four more minutes per game.

Speaking of maligned Canucks, it appears as though this loss will be felt most by young Russian forward Nikolay Goldobin, who admitted to reporters today that he called Burmistrov “his Russian dad.”

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Part of why the Canucks signed Burmistrov was to show Goldobin the ropes, so at least, it seems, he’s held up his end of the bargain in some ways. Hopefully, Goldobin learned the right things and ignored anything Burmistrov had to say about the NHL and perseverance.



    • Bud Poile

      Re: loyalty and tradition
      ‘At a time when teams literally owned their players for their entire careers, the players began demanding such basics as a minimum salary and a properly funded pension plan. While team owners were getting rich with sold out arenas game after game, players were earning a pittance and many needed summer jobs to make a living. Almost all of these men had no more than a high school education and had been playing hockey as a profession all their working life. Superstars in the 1950s earned less than $25,000 a year ($213 thousand in 2016 dollars) and when their playing days were over, they had nothing to fall back on and had to accept whatever work they could get in order to survive.’
      “The fundamental question at the root of the NHLPA failure was whether players really were laborers who could form a trade union.
      This in itself reflected the success of the owners in using cultural formations to restrain their labor force. Led by Conn Smythe,the league appealed to cultural bonds of loyalty and tradition as justifications for retaining the existing economic structure of labor-management relations, long after other industries had been forced by the state to move toward formal, union-led collective bargaining arrangements.”
      Ross, J. Andrew, Trust and Antitrust: The Failure of the First National Hockey League Players’ Association, 1957–1958

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Lindsay

      “He quit on his team and his team mates.” Holly Wood
      “the league appealed to cultural bonds of loyalty and tradition as justifications for retaining the existing economic structure….”

  • Gregthehockeynut

    I suspect Burmi was considering the KHL this offseason and was lured into one more try at the bigs with a lot of roster spots open to competition on the Canucks. Or perhaps he knew he was a fill in until Gaunce, Sutter and Granlund were healthy after injuries late last year. Regardless, his abrupt departure even in the wake of the Nic Dowd acquisition seemed to indicate Burmi had one foot out the door for awhile.