Russia's Telegin bounces back
When Russia played Switzerland on Saturday, many in the sell-out crowd were looking forward to welcoming Alexander Ovechkin into Russia's roster.
But the Great Eight was outscored by Ivan Telegin, a 24-year-old at CSKA Moscow whose return from North America was, in some respects, even more dramatic that Ovi's airlift last week.
Many feared that Telegin's career was over before it had even begun after a series of complications following a concussion playing for Winnipeg Jets' affiliate St. John's IceCaps. That slowed him down in 2012/13 and a combination of medical and contractual issues kept him off the ice altogether in the following campaign.
Before that he was a hot prospect. Two call-ups for the World Juniors in 2010 and 2012 earned him a silver medal and a reputation as a youngster to watch. A stunning Ontario Hockey League campaign with Barrie Colts saw him put up 64 points in 46 games and earned him a pro spot with the IceCaps - but suddenly it all ground to a halt.
A return to Russia and a contract with CSKA Moscow got him KHL experience, but with the Army Men's stacked offence he was limited to a bottom six role for much of the 2014/15 season before finally breaking out in the latter stages of this season.
Entrusted with more ice time in the play-offs, he produced a game-winning two-point display in a 3-0 victory over SKA St. Petersburg in game one of that series and made a similar contribution to help secure an overtime win at Metallurg in game three of the grand final. That also saw him make his team Russia debut when Oleg Znarok called him into the roster for the final stages of the Euro Hockey Tour.
The Worlds have been a further steep learning curve for the Novokuznetsk native, pointless in four games before he opened the scoring against Switzerland and added a second goal to his account later in that 5-1 win.
"I was playing my first ever games in the World Championship so I was a bit too nervous and I was maybe trying too hard," he said after the Switzerland game. "But then I started to get a feel for my game again and I could play with more confidence. When Roman Lyubimov gave me that pass I already knew exactly where he would play it. I could hang back and the Swiss all skated past me."
Lyubimov is another CSKA prospect breaking into the Russia reckoning, something that didn't go unnoticed among reporters eager to identify the outlines of the team that might lead the country towards the next Olympics in 2018. But while Telegin agreed that playing alongside his clubmate made it easier to settle into the national team, he was quick to point out that KHL rivalries were left behind when the call came from the Russian national team.
"This wasn't a good day for CSKA, it was a good day for Russia," he insisted. "Nobody in the locker room is thinking about who plays for this or that club, we are all here for our country."
But while everyone on Russia's roster knows well enough what it means to represent the national team, many of the country's fans are only just beginning to recognize Telegin's talents.
Back to Overview