Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Meet your Mighty Ducks, part 2

Vitaly Vishnevski, a.k.a. "Vish-dog", "Vitaly"

I'm pretty much going through these Ducks in order of personal favorites, and as you may note while Scott and Teemu are generally the fan faves, I like a little more sandpaper than silk.

And while Sammy is the best, actually the only Ducks jersey I own is the one shown above.

These days, Vish-dog sits at about our 5th d-man (behind Scott, Beauchemin, O'Donnell, and Salei), but he is a great physical presence, despite being (a) Russian, (b) a bit lanky, and (c) quite Russian. The thing about Vish-dog is that if you plan on carrying the puck through the neutral zone, keep your head up. Vish-dog can sense a moment of puck concentration and will plow you into next week.

He was fourth overall among defensemen in the regular season with 196 hits, and is third among defensemen in these playoffs (he trails only R. Blake and Z. Chara, each of whom have played around 100 more minutes).

But aside from stats, I can just tell an anecdote. I saw this kid play for the first time in a Ducks uniform in a preseason game against the Avalanche in 1999. From what I had heard from the Ducks' media, he knew hardly any English at that point. The only thing I really remember from that game was when Joe Sakic carried the puck over the blue line at one point and WHAM! somebody had leveled him. Harder than I had seen Sakic ever hit before, that slippery ghost of a man.

Now this was preseason; everyone was kind of shocked. Joe kind of looked up, a little stunned, and even the Ducks weren't quite sure what had happened. Didn't this kid know that this was Joe Sakic? Didn't he know that it was a preseason game? And collectively, it became apparent, he didn't.

Postgame interviews (albeit broken ones) confirmed that he didn't know Joe Sakic from teammate Joe Sacco, and from that point on, I loved this kid. He'll hardly ever score (his one goal this year happened when the St. Louis Blues passed the puck into their own net during a delayed penalty call), but he does have the power to turn on or off the crowd with one well-placed shoulder.

Give 'em hell, Vish-dog.

(Author's note: It is also somewhat silly that the Kings have Lubomir Visnovsky, who although being Slovakian, has a very similar-sounding name. This can be quite comical during L.A.-Anaheim telecasts, and even this postseason without the Kings, I think Neil Smith has called Vishnevski "Visnovsky" every chance he had.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Author's note: It is also somewhat silly that the Kings have Lubomir Visnovsky, who although being Slovakian, has a very similar-sounding name. This can be quite comical during L.A.-Anaheim telecasts, and even this postseason without the Kings, I think Neil Smith has called Vishnevski "Visnovsky" every chance he had.)

You forgot to mention how completely opposite their games are. Imagine if you could merge their hockey skills into one player. Ray Bourque, the sequel?

I'd also be curious to know how well each has mastered English. I smell a new sitcom, similar to the old SNL "wild and crazy guys" skit that Dan Akroyd & Steve Martin did circa 1979.

Earl Sleek said...

You forgot to mention how completely opposite their games are.

Actually, they might make a decent defensive pair with those differences, although broadcasters would probably have a fit.

Visnovsky's good year for the Kings means he's not acquirable, likely, so that dream will have to wait.

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