[Ed Note: First, RMNB taught you how to correctly pronounce the names of some of Russia's Best Hockey Players. Second, RMNB taught you how to support the Russian National Team in Vancouver with Authentic Russian Fan Chants and Cheers. Tonight, In Russian Lessons Part III, we're here to teach you who the most popular, active hockey players in Russia are.
With NHL Games starting at 3am or later in Russia and the KHL starting to find more and more traction, we were interested who Russians talked about and followed the most. Would it be an NHL Player? Would it be a KHL Player? We felt this post was necessary because the media coverage in Washington makes a lot of people assume Alex Ovechkin is the most revered sportsman in the country. He has a huge following - to the point where he's been on Game Shows and in Music Videos - but you'll be surprised by what we found today. They're all yours Fedor.]
Okay, I bet if you had to pick one person to be the most popular hockey player in Russia, you’d pick Alex Ovechkin. This is a great guess, but it’s not 100% true. Let’s check what hockey players Russian users search for the most using the Russian Search Engine “Yandex.” It is the most used Search Engine (51% of search market) in our country.
Most Searched Players
Here are Alex Ovechkin’s Stats:
As we can see, Ovechkin is searched for quite a lot. And via these statistics, he’s the most popular. But let’s take a look at Ilya Kovalchuk.
Ilya Kovalchuk Stats:
Kovy’s amazing play on two World Championships made him one of the most popular and searched people in May. But what about two other Russians who are very popular? They’re not even close in this competition.
Evgeni Malkin’s Stats:
Even his Stanley Cup didn’t give him big popularity in the Internet.
Alexei Morozov’s Stats:
Morozov is ABSOLUTELY the most popular KHL player in the League. He’s also the Captain of Russian hockey team and he was chosen to carry the Russian flag in the Olympic opening ceremony. He was picked over Sergei Fedorov. Despite all of these accolades, he’s not competitive in our ratings.
Russian Fan Polls
Which NHL Team Do You Think Will Win The Stanley Cup?
To give you a better idea of how much Ilya Kovalchuk is loved in Russia, look at this Sportbox.ru fan poll. 3% of the voters – this is crazy – thought that the Atlanta Thrashers would win the Stanley Cup this year (!!!). The Thrashers are 5th in this poll!!! Granted, this was conducted before he was traded, but it’s amazing considering how bad the team is. They just know Kovy is good. That’s all!! The Washington Capitals, on the other hand, are in First Place and have a resounding 60% of the vote.
Going By Their Personality, Which Russian Player Do You Like The Most?
This poll is much more undecided. Sure, Ovi is leading here with 34% of the vote, and Kovy 20% and Moro 16% are very close. But see! Malkin is only 5th and only has 9%. Only in one version of polls — TV polls — is Kovy more popular than Ovechkin (he was Sportsman of the Year-2008 and 3rd place in 2007). In 2009 Morozov, Kovalchuk and Malkin became Sportsmen of the Month. Ovechkin was named Sportsman of the Month only once (April 2008) and lost in the 1st round of the Sportsman of the Year playoffs competition (Yelena Isinbaeva won in that quarterfinal).
Lastly, if you take a look at the Russian MSN ratings for today – Ovi is the #8 sportsman in Russia by popularity. Here’s the complete list:
Isinbaeva (track&field), Arshavin (soccer), Pluschenko (figure scating), Safin (tennis), Zhirkov, Akinfeev (both – soccer), Kuznetsova (tennis), OVECHKIN, Sharapova (tennis), Kirilenko (basketball)
Russian Journalist Opinions
Sport Express Journalists named Kovy as a Sportsman of the Year in 2009. In Russian Reporter’s rating Kovy was also 3rd. And sure, being World Champions makes all the difference.
Game Shows and TV Exposure
Lastly, Alex Ovechkin has been all over Russian TV the last few years. Here are a few funny examples:
Finally here’s video of Ovechkin, Kovlachuk & Morozov together at a Russian Music Awards Show
The Other Most Popular Russian Hockey Players In Russia
Here’s the rest of my list for the most popular players in Russia. This is more opinion than anything. But I think this is very fair.
5 – Pavel Datsyuk, 6 – Alex Semin, 7 – Evgeni Nabokov, 8 – Ilya Bryzgalov, 9 – Alexander Frolov, 10 – Maxim Afinogenov
These players were close but just didn’t make my list:
Sergei Fedorov, Semyon Varlamov, Alex Kovalev, Alexander Radulov, Andrei Markov, Alexei Yashin and Sergei Zubov
Please feel free to discuss below in the comments. What do you think? I’ll make sure to answer back tomorrow! Let’s have a lively debate!