Friday, June 11, 2010

Vitali Karamnov

The St. Louis Blues were one of the last teams to explore Eastern Europe as a source of hockey talent. And when you get the best of the leftovers, you don't always get the best.

The Blues first tapped into Russia in the 1992 draft. The Blues looked at drafting some of the older, overlooked Russians, taking 5 in total.

Vitali Karamnov was the Blues' 2nd choice, 62nd overall in the 92 draft. Nicknamed "Big V" as the Blues drafted a smaller player also named Vitali (Prokhorov) who was known as "Little V", Karamnov (and for that matter Prokhorov) was brought over immediately at the age of 24 to join the Blues. Joined by center Igor Korolev, it was hoped that these older Russian players could step in and infuse some speed and offense into the Blues attack.

The initial Russian experiment never really worked though. Never a star with his old club Moscow Dynamo, Karamnov struggled through an injury plauged 1992-93 season which saw him play mostly in the minors.

Having adjusted to the North American game and culture somewhat by the 1993-94 season, Karamnov played most of the year with St. Louis, but only scored 9 goals and 21 points in 59 games. Although he was big (6'2" 185lbs) and able to handle the NHL's bigger players, he was hardly a good fit on the third or fourth line. With production like that, Karamnov's days were certainly numbered.

Karamnov played another poor season with the Blues in the lockout shortened 1995 season. He played in 26 games, scoring 3 goals and 10 points but finished the year in the minor leagues.

Karamnov was released as a free agent after 1995 and immediately went back to Europe. He first played in Finland and then Germany.

Karamnov played in 92 games, scoring 12 goals and 20 assists. Ask any Blues fan who remembers him and they'll tell you that the thing they remember most about him is how frequently he lost his helmet while on the ice. It became a source of amusement for the fans and the Blues broadcast team.


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