Grabovski’s player ID from the Belarusian Football Federation. (Photo: Pressball.by)
Early Monday, the television channel Belarus-1 reported news that I’m not sure any of us were expecting. Unrestricted free agent Mikhail Grabovski has signed a new deal, but it’s not with a hockey team. It’s with the Krumkachy Minsk (Minsk Ravens), a soccer club in Belarus’ Second League.
Ravens chairman Denis Shunto announced the news on TV, saying that Grabovski will suit up for the team in late July. For those of you beginning to worry, we have been assured that while Grabo will indeed play for the Ravens, it’s intended more as a summer workout for next year’s hockey season than a change in career.
Former head coach Adam Oates was on Hockey Night in Canada radio a couple weeks ago to talk about his new role as an HNIC analyst. At the top of interview, Oates dropped this wisdom: “You wouldn’t like it if someone said something about you.”
So true. Please keep in mind as we move along.
Oates went on to discuss what it was like to coach known coach-killer Alex Ovechkin (“Just to set the record straight, I loved it… For me he was very coachable.”), how every detail of the game is not scrutinized (“It’s blogged. It’s twitted.”), and what team he likes in the playoffs (the Kings). Then, at the end of the interview, Oates told a story, ostensibly about how much he misses playing.
When we played Toronto this year, we went to the shootout. I had Grabovski on my team. And he grabbed me right away and he said he didn’t wanna shoot. And I’m like, “Why not?” I didn’t tell him if I had him in my list or not. Obviously, he was a little nervous against [his former team] Toronto. So I didn’t put him in, and after the game I went up to him and I went, “Hey, if you skated down the ice and you fell down and they laughed at you… They all wanna be on the ice, man, and I miss it. I miss that feeling of nerves every day.”
Rob Pizzo responded, “That’s a great story.”
No, it’s not.
Photo: Andre Ringuette
On July 1st, Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski will become a UFA, free to sign with any NHL team. While I can only assume whoever the Caps hire as GM would want to re-sign him way before then (please), Grabo has been quietly raising his price halfway across the world at the 2014 World Championship.
On Monday, Grabovski scored the game-winning goal again, this time in a 3-1 victory against Latvia, sending Belarus to the playoff round for the first time since 2009.
Grabo is kicking ass. Amazing goal GIFs incoming.
All photos: Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images
Washington Capitals forward Mikhail Grabovski scored a late game-winning goal in Belarus’s upset victory over Switzerland on Monday. The win substantially improved the chances that Grabovski and his teammates will make it out of the group stage at the World Championship. That’s huge for Belarus and its fans, and it explains why Grabovski celebrated like he had just won the Stanley Cup after scoring on the breakaway.
Yesterday was Fehr and today it’s Grabo! What is this– my birthday?! No, it’s not my birthday; you people actually showed up this time.
Mikhail Grabovski is awesome and played awesome. Then he got hurt, which was not awesome. But then he came back– and before you think that’s awesome, lemme stop you right there. It was not.
|15.4||Average time on ice per game|
|51.0%||Shot attempt percentage during 5v5|
|56.5%||Goal percentage during 5v5|
|8.9%||On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5|
|93.4%||On-ice saving percentage during 5v5|
Photo: Bruce Bennett
Tuesday’s Caps game was ugly. The days that followed didn’t get much better. Adam Oates kinda sorta maybe called out Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday for being Alex Ovechkin. The national hockey media devoured it like it was some delicious Chipotle guac. Ovi wasn’t made available to reporters on Thursday to respond.
With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.
The scoring got started tonight with an even-strength Alex Ovechkin tally, the first since we still cared about the Winter Olympics. Playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovi took a feed from Grabo in the near circle before flipping the puck past Cory Schneider.
During a second period in which the Devs dominated play, New Jersey tied the game up. Twelve minutes into the frame, Tuomo Ruutu tipped home a shot from D-man Eric Gelinas to make it one-one.
The Caps headed into the third with a man-advantage, needing their power play to once again save them from disaster. It didn’t happen.
Ryan Carter scored a late goal for New Jersey. Devils beat Caps 2-1.
Grabo lives! (Photo: @scarletcaps)
When we last got an update about Mikhail Grabovski‘s status, we heard from the translated horse’s mouth that he wasn’t planning to skate for another two weeks, putting off a potential return until early April.
“I feel good, but the doctors say the rehab isn’t over,” Grabovski said last Monday to Tribuna’s Vadim Knyrko. “Don’t expect me on the ice for the next two weeks.”
Just seven days later, Grabo returned to said ice to skate a full practice session for the first time since February 27th, a morning skate in Florida. Grabovski, who has missed 20 of the last 21 games due to a sprained left ankle injury which he then re-injured in his first shift back against the Panthers, skated as an extra on the Caps’ fourth line.
In his first season (of, hopefully, many) as a Washington Capital, Mikhail Grabovski has been one of the team’s most dependable players. He scored a hat trick in his first game, leads all forwards in possession, and is second only to Jay Beagle at winning face-offs. So when Grabovski went down with an ankle injury against the New Jersey Devils, the Capitals suffered a big loss.
Grabovski re-injured that same ankle one month later against the Florida Panthers on his first shift back on the ice. Since then Grabovski has not skated and Caps head coach Adam Oates has been noncommittal on when the Belarusian center would return.
On Monday, Tribuna’s Vadim Knyrko caught up with Grabovski and asked him about his injury. Grabovski revealed that he isn’t going to skate for another two weeks, pushing his return — at the earliest — into early April, the very end of the Caps’ season. That’s not good. Grabo also is not pleased with Bryce Salvador.
Fedor Fedin has your translation.
A month and three days ago, the Washington Capitals lost one of their best players when Mikhail Grabovski injured his ankle after being taken down from behind by New Jersey Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador.
It was a long rehab for Grabo. After missing 8 games, the Belarusian center returned in the Caps’ first game back after the Olympics. His first shift was basically a disaster.
The best deeds are the ones unseen. Unfortunately for injured Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski, I was at Kettler today and totally saw this.
Grabo left the ice after a brief work-out with fellow injured teammate Jack Hillen and started walking towards the locker room. That’s when he heard around 25 children screaming his name. He smiled.
Grabovski turned around and brought some gifts along with him, two fully-taped sticks he had just used on the ice during practice. One stick he handed to a kid in the front row; the other he tossed to the back for the kids fight over.
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