Rambler's Top100

10 2008 . 
'Superfreak' Artyukhin's Presence Felt // Tampa Tribune

Erik Erlendsson. 

Oct. 10--TAMPA -- The Lightning lineup this season has a freaky element that has been absent for two years.

That "freak" is Tampa Bay forward Evgeny Artyukhin, a 6-foot-5, 255-pounder with linebacker size and lead-off hitter speed who can wreak havoc on the ice.

"He is a gigantic human being that can skate unbelievably well, and he just pulverizes people on the forecheck," TSN hockey analyst Pierre McGuire said.

Artyukhin was with the Lightning for most of the 2005-06 season. Dissatisfied with the contract offer he received from the team, he spent the past two seasons in his native Russia. New Lightning co-owner Oren Koules reached out to Artyukhin early in the summer and signed the hulking forward to a two-year deal.

It's difficult to miss him when he steps on the ice.

"He's a big animal out there," Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "His presence, you feel it when he's on the ice, the other teams know he's out there. When they look at who's coming, ...they need to get rid of the puck as soon as possible."

Asked to describe Artyukhin, Lightning coach Barry Melrose said, "in the words of Rick James, he's a superfreak."

"This guy is the best athlete on our team. I told Arty, 'You need to keep working on defense so I can play you in more offensive situations.' The guy is a monster with the puck."

Artyukhin said he has noticed a difference in his development from his last stint with the team.

"It was a good lesson for me when I played in Russia, I'm a better player," he said.

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