Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Alexander Khavanov

For reasons I am not completely certain of, ever since Alexander Khavanov broke into the NHL as a 28 year old rookie I was keenly interested in his underdog story.

He was a classic late bloomer if there ever was one. Coming out of junior back, no elite in Russia team was interested in him. He left the game completely for 2 years, turning to academic world. He was always a good student and idolized Albert Einstein as much as any hockey player. He chose study at the prestigious Moscow Civil Engineering School.

He probably should have been working in a Moscow office somewhere, but the university coach convinced him to return to the ice. He did, and before you know it he was captaining the Russian national team, playing at World Championships.

In 2000, thanks to keen eye of St. Louis scout Ted Hampson and assistant GM John Ferguson Jr., he came to St. Louis. He was a skilled rearguard, often forced to play his wrong side in St. Louis because of a lack of right handed defensemen. He handled it all with great poise, perhaps too much as some suggested he lacked a sense of urgency. He also lacked a physical game, which likely kept his NHL minutes lower than he wanted to play. Ferguson later brought Khavanov to Toronto for his final season, in 2005-06.

In total Khavanov played in 348 NHL games, scoring 27 goals and 102 points before returning to Europe for a final season.

As a civil engineer who once quit hockey and never expected to play beyond the recreational level ever again, Alexander Khavanov probably savoured every minute of his career more than most.


Anton Baryshnikov December 21, 2009 at 9:44 AM  

It's a good article about one of the best players of Dynamo Moscow! Thanks!

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