May 9, 2009

A brief look at Sergei Fedorov

Defector blazed trail for Russians behind him

I've always liked Sergei Fedorov. I think I've seen him play live on three teams now. The funniest time was in Nashville, when he was playing with Columbus when he yelled something back to a heckler near me during a commercial break. I was sitting behind the Blue Jackets' bench and there's that break in the glass for the tunnel to the locker room so you could hear Fedorov clearly. He was a bit embarrassed about it afterwards - probably because his teammates were giving him grief over it - but it was hysterical.

The reason I've always liked Fedorov is because he's a forward who can play defense like he's played it all his life. As a matter of fact, he occasionally does play defense for the Washington Capitals at times - and not just on the power play. That's a rare, rare thing and I think I've only ever seen one or two other hockey players at any level be able to do that. I like the players that are versatile like that - they can play most positions. I also tend to like defensemen who can play forward, which is far more common, for a similar reason.

It's not only is an indicator of ability, but also of intelligence. To be able to play more than one position, and play it well, means you have to understand both your regular position and the other position you end up in. Well enough, anyways, to be where you're supposed to be positionally and to know what tasks are your responsibility.

That's not always an easy thing to do. Hockey is an extremely a reactionary sport - thinking about what you're doing literally slows you down. So to be able to react appropriately at the right time in a different position on the ice is really pretty amazing, if you think about it.

And Fedorov's been doing that his entire career. I'll be very sad the day he retires.

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