Andrei Nikolishin donning a Caps jersey in 2000.
Andrei Nikolishin, who is currently playing in his 21st season of professional hockey, has had a long career. From 1996 to 2002, he was a Washington Capital. In 1998, along with teammates Dale Hunter, Peter Bondra, and Olie Kolzig, he helped the Caps reach their first ever Stanley Cup Final.
When the NHL lockout hit in 2004-05, Niko continued his career in Russia and eventually became a teammate of Evgeny Kuznetsov, playing with the Caps prospect in Traktor Cheylabinsk for two seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
For this reason, Andrei, who now plays for Sokol Kyiv of the Ukrainian Professional Hockey League, was approached by Sportbox.ru to share his thoughts on the KHL playoffs and his former teammate’s decision to stay in Russia another year. My translation of his comments are below.
Let’s start with the fact that all talks about Kuznetsov’s departure are inappropriate at the moment. I think, Zhenya [Ed note: Evgeny's nickname], said what he said just so everybody will leave him alone. The guy needs to concentrate on the playoffs now: he wants to get as far as possible with Traktor, win something, to pay proper respect to his city and the club where he grew up. All those talks about his possible departure are only a distraction.
My opinion is – he has outgrown the level of the KHL and he needs to go across the ocean. Meanwhile, Tarasenko needs to play one more year with a team like SKA who has big goals in front of them, where you need to prove you’ve earned the right to be a leader. He also needs to play on the national team. Anyways, his game is not as spectacular as Zhenya’s right now though he’s not less talented.
Nikolishin with Traktor during the 2010-11 season.
Nikolishin, Kuznetsov and Anton Glinkin attending a child hospital in Chelyabinsk, during the 2009-10 season.