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|12 ÿíâàðÿ 2007
Stanislav Chistov is hoping to re-emerge as a go-to guy // New England Hockey Journal, MA
By Matt Kalman.
Stan the Man
Once an Anaheim wunderkind, B’s winger Stanislav Chistov is hoping to re-emerge as a go-to guy in Boston.
A few years ago, Michael Chistov was working in the tire factory he’d worked in for years when a container fell on his arm.
His arm immobilized by the accident, he hasn’t worked since.
Such is the life of a resident of the Russian industrial center of Chelyabinsk – that is, unless you can skate your way out of town.
Boston Bruins winger Stanislav Chistov realized at a young age he didn’t want to follow his parents, and eventually his older sister Julia, into a factory worker’s life. Even as a teen, he could see what happened to kids who didn’t compete in sports and that he didn’t want to hang with them.
“Because if you don’t play hockey, the kids at a young age they start to drink and smoke,” Chistov told New England Hockey Journal. “And if you start on a hockey team, you play hockey and you’re not doing those things. You hang out with your team and go to the same school and stuff.”
He started skating at 5 years old, and chose hockey over soccer (he was a forward) full-time at 12. He honed his skills on his town’s outdoor rinks – even on the most bitterly cold nights.
“We just wore tuques and stuff under our helmets. It was fun. When you’re young, you don’t care about the cold – you just want to play,” he recalled.
An impressive performance as an 18-year-old at the 2001 World Championships (5-1-6 totals) was the final addition to his resume before Anaheim used its first pick, fifth overall, in the June 2001 NHL Entry Draft to select the 5-foot-10, 200-pound speedster.
From there, Chistov started on the proverbial career roller coaster
– but it’s been a better ride than toiling on an assembly line.
“He’ll take the extra half-second with the puck, where another guy might get rid of it. If you’re an opposing defenseman, you’ve just go to be aware he’s got different ways to beat you,” said B’s blueliner Jason York, who played against Chistov in last winter’s Spengler Cup and in some Western Conference contests pre-lockout. “He can hold the puck, make a pass; he can beat you 1-on-1. He’s got a lot of skill. He’s quick too.”
St. Louis Blues assistant coach Brad Shaw was head coach of the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks when Chistov was trying to work his way back to the NHL after he’d taken the league by storm as a 19-year-old rookie with 12-18-30 totals in 79 regular-season games and 4-2-6 totals in 21 playoff contests (including seven games in the Stanley Cup finals).
Chistov left an impression on Shaw.
“I think overall his game was – I don’t know if I’ve seen many better puck-handlers ever,” Shaw said. “He just has a terrific pair of hands and good hockey sense on how to use them. He didn’t finish for us, but certainly puck-possession was … (he’s) just a phenomenal talent.”
But if you accept Chistov’s ability to hold the puck and make magic, you have to take the turnovers and mistakes that come with it. Plus you have to realize that his effortless skating and quiet off-ice demeanor aren’t the result of indifference – that’s just his style. B’s head coach Dave Lewis is quick to refute any murmurs about Chistov lacking work ethic.
“He works hard. I think it has to do with how he looks on the ice, his style. Everybody’s got a little bit of a unique style. Everybody can’t (be the same),” the bench boss said.
However, things didn’t work out in Anaheim after that fantastic 2002-03 run to within one game of hockey ultimate prize. Chistov played just 56 NHL games and spent 23 games in the AHL in 2003-04. During the lockout, he had a chance to re-emerge as a Ducks future star in a talent-laden AHL, but among Anaheim’s overflowing stable of prospects he blended into the background.
He finished just seventh on the team in scoring and the Ducks didn’t
offer him a contract as a restricted free agent when the lockout ended.
“It’s always, when you play well and then you’re not playing well, you
always get frustrated. But life goes on and you keep trying to get better,”
A second chance
He was mentored by former NHL coach Dave King, who instilled a North American style and work ethic to his Russian club.
And he got to spend time with his family, who often made the three-hour trek to catch Metallurg’s home games.
When the Ducks offered a two-year deal last summer, Chistov was back in the mix … barely. The loaded Ducks, fresh off a trip to the Western Conference Finals and ready to get off to a record-breaking start this year after the addition of Chris Pronger, had no room for Chistov.
He appeared in just one NHL game and three AHL games (on a conditioning assignment) before the Ducks dealt him to the B’s for a 2008 third-round draft pick.
After arriving on Causeway Street, the now 23-year-old Chistov was averaging just nine minutes of ice time per game through his first 17 contests. But he’d revealed glimpses of his playmaking with one goal and three assists over that span, and also showed a previously unadvertised mean streak.
With his NHL salary of $850,000, Chistov has been able to buy his parents and sister nice new homes. Of course, he said that still hasn’t stopped his mom – who operates a crane in a factory back home – from asking if he has enough money to get by.
But with his pockets well lined, all Chistov needs is more ice time – something Lewis said is a priority when the calendar turns to 2007.
There’ll be no factories in Chistov’s future.