For those of you who have been checking in on the “Movembears”...
St. Petersburg: The Best Rumor for Varlamov
Truth be told this was intended to be a hate rant directed at Semyon Varlamov. Though I reacted rather nonchalantly to the reports of him leaving for the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg, I was a bit more passionate about his agent’s comments.
But in the middle of my anger-infused sentences, I realized that I could not sink to the level of immature bashing; there are many more people capable of that.
It’s now clear that what Varlamov is doing is what any smart, talented, thinking person would do. Varly himself said he would take a pay cut to stay in the NHL, and I believe him. Among his agent’s comments, there is none about money, and he even says that Varlamov is spending time in Hershey to train.
What this suggests is that Varlamov fully recognizes the esteem of the NHL and the fact that he is in no position to profit from it.
In 2009, Varlamov impressed the hockey world by lighting up his first playoff sprint while dimming the expectations of current unrestricted free agent Jose Theodore. And then the DiPietro train started rolling.
In three seasons at the NHL level, Varlamov has played a total of 59 regular season games. Just for reference, in this season alone Michal Neuvirth played a total 48.
So while Neuvirth has had all the TV time to show off, Varlamov has been relegated to a highlight here and there, and always with the anticipation of yet another groin injury on the horizon.
Varlamov’s reputation has become less that of an athletic, quick-moving budding star and more of a fragile youth. His leverage in this league has diminished, and he’s been spoiled by the spotlight that Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, and Nicklas Backstrom have attracted.
His NHL options have dwindled to biding his time in the shadows of Neuvy and Braden Holtby, or trying to shine in places where Brian Campbell is the biggest star that nobody cares about.
So what does that leave the Caps’ third Russian stud? Play a year or two in the KHL, show off and return to Gary Bettman’s league a fulfilled prophecy.
A prophecy with a bit of a an edge to it.