Rambler's Top100

12 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, Bs 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 hed worked in for years when a container fell on his arm.

His arm immobilized by the accident, he hasnt 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 didnt want to follow his parents, and eventually his older sister Julia, into a factory workers life. Even as a teen, he could see what happened to kids who didnt compete in sports and that he didnt want to hang with them.

Because if you dont 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 youre 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 towns outdoor rinks even on the most bitterly cold nights.

We just wore tuques and stuff under our helmets. It was fun. When youre young, you dont 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 its been a better ride than toiling on an assembly line.
He has the handle
Everyone whos scouted, coached and played with or against Chistov has marveled at his puck-handling and playmaking skills.

Hell take the extra half-second with the puck, where another guy might get rid of it. If youre an opposing defenseman, youve just go to be aware hes got different ways to beat you, said Bs blueliner Jason York, who played against Chistov in last winters 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. Hes got a lot of skill. Hes 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 hed 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 dont know if Ive 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 didnt finish for us, but certainly puck-possession was (hes) just a phenomenal talent.

But if you accept Chistovs 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 arent the result of indifference thats just his style. Bs 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. Everybodys got a little bit of a unique style. Everybody cant (be the same), the bench boss said.

However, things didnt 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 Anaheims overflowing stable of prospects he blended into the background.

He finished just seventh on the team in scoring and the Ducks didnt offer him a contract as a restricted free agent when the lockout ended.
I think your expectations get maybe a little out of whack, said Shaw. I was around for a lot of those games watching (in the 03 playoffs), and he played a huge role. I just dont think from going to the Finals it just didnt pan out the way he thought his career was going to go. And I think he had trouble getting back on the right track.
Chistov admits the NHL was proving to be a difficult puzzle.

Its always, when you play well and then youre not playing well, you always get frustrated. But life goes on and you keep trying to get better, said Chistov.
Still, finding the key to success in North American hockey was still better than punching a time clock and laboring 9 to 5. So he returned to Russia for last season all the while keeping an NHL return as his ultimate goal.

A second chance
Playing the 2005-06 season with Metallurg in the Russian League was beneficial for Chistov in more ways than one. He was able to skate on a line with current Pittsburgh super rookie Evgeni Malkin.

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 Metallurgs 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 Bs 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 hed 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 hasnt 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.

Therell be no factories in Chistovs future. 

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