|Sunday, June 25, 2000
CALGARY (CP) -- Anton Volchenkov wasn't born when his father, Alexei,
played defence for the Soviet Red Army in some of the most memorable matches
of all time.
But the son will get at least one experience his father was denied --
to play in the National Hockey League.
The Ottawa Senators made Volchenkov, a stocky defenceman, their first
pick in the NHL entry draft over the weekend.
The 18-year-old Russian drew as many questions about his lineage as
his hockey skill.
His father was a member of the Red Army squad that played the Canadiens
to a 3-3 draw at the Montreal Forum on New Year's Eve in 1975, which some
consider the best hockey match ever played.
Red Army also had stops in Boston and Philadelphia, where they briefly
left the ice to protest the Flyers' rough play.
"My father talked about it a lot," Volchenkov, speaking through an interpreter,
said about the Red Army tour, which he has only seen on video. "There were
people inviting my father to play in the NHL, but at the time, you couldn't
go to the United States."
Russians have choices now and Volchenkov has opted to play in Russia
at least one more year, Senators general manager Marshall Johnston said.
And he decided to jump from Red Army to the Russian Wings club next
season because he likes the coach there.
"I'm not sure if he'll be at training camp because their season starts
at the end of August," said Johnston, who hopes at least to have Volchenkov
at a mini-camp for rookies in July.
"If we could get him at training camp for 10 days, that would be great.
We'd encourage him to play at (Wings)."
The six-foot, 210-pound Volchenkov is said to be a strong skater and
excellent passer who isn't terribly physical, although he insisted he likes
"a tough game" and has the chipped front tooth, courtesy of a hockey fight
two years ago, to show for it.
He had two goals and nine assists in 30 games as a rookie with Red Army
last season. NHL Central Scouting rated him 10th among European skaters,
but the Senators' scouts had him No. 1 in Russia.
"I can play a defensive game or, if necessary, I can participate in
the attack," the interpreter said.
He called the Senators "one of my favourite teams" and said he was "overwhelmed"
that Ottawa drafted him.
Johnston said Volchenkov reminds him of his top defenceman, Wade Redden,
for his "poise and his vision on the ice.
"He's really smart, he has great hockey sense, vision and anticipation."
The Senators saved their surprise for the second round, when they re-drafted
goaltender Mathieu Chouinard 45th overall.
Johnston used a compensation pick he got when Chouinard, Ottawa's No.
1 pick in 1998, re-entered the draft after failing to sign with the Senators.
He said he didn't expect a negative reaction from the goaltender, whose
signing price will no doubt drop considerably this time around.
An oddity saw Ottawa end up with three consecutive picks in the fifth
They used one to take forward Grant Potulny, who Johnston found interesting
because he is the first out-of-state player recruited by the University
of Minnesota in many years. Potulny is from Grand Forks, N.D., on the Minnesota