Bo's no Russian any more
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
It was one of the weirdest dressing room scenes I've ever witnessed.
Boris Mironov and Andrei Kovalenko, between games in last year's
Stanley Cup playoffs, were sitting in the Oilers' room in Colorado shouting
at each other in front of their teammates and the media. It was partially
playful. And semi-serious.
"I'm Canadian!'' shouted Mironov.
"No. You Russian!'' hollered Kovalenko.
"No. You Russian. I'm Canadian!'' Mironov shouted back.
"No. You Russian, too,'' shot back Kovalenko.
"@#$%^&*Canadian!'' screamed Mironov, using the same adjective
Ron Low used on live radio after the loss to the Buffalo Sabres last week.
"@#$%^&*Russian!'' Kovalenko screamed back.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Mironov did everything but break into the old "Da, Da, Canada
- Nyet, Nyet Soviet'' chant.
This season has settled it.
Mironov, indeed, is Canadian.
And Kovalenko, indeed, is Russian.
That's going by the Unabridged Don Cherry Dictionary, of course.
But the story is that Mironov plans on being a Canadian, officially,
in a matter of months. And he's also decided to reside in Canada - in Edmonton
- year-round starting now. And he also plans to stay here after his career.
If he could, he'd like to play for Canada in the next Olympics.
"I already play for Russia so I can't play for Canada.That's
the rule. But if they changed the rule, I'd decide to play for Canada,''
That's the team a Canadian should play for, he suggests.
"I don't want to go back to Russia in the summers any more,''
"I want to be here fishing and barbecuing and doing the things
my friends here do during the summer.
"I love the Canadian style of life. I'm going to be a legitimate
Canadian next summer. I'll have a Canadian passport. And after I've finished
my career, I want to stay here.''
He's making serious strides to winning his Canadian hockey passport
"He's come a long way,'' says coach Ron Low. "He's played his
best hockey in the last half of the season when he's had to. I think he
took the big step last year in the playoffs when he became a big reason
why we beat Dallas.
"He's one of the best open-ice hitters in the game. He sent two
guys home in a week. But he's more in control this year. He's playing Canadian
Well, other than on the power play and in the high slot.
"When he's 20 feet out in the slot, then he's still a Russian,''
"He'll pass to somebody else. He still has that fault. He won't
shoot when he's in position to shoot. Every time he does shoot, it goes
into the net.''
Mironov has moved his game to another level in the second half
of this season. If he can take that one last small step to go with the
large leap he's already taken this season, good things have to happen.
Maybe you've noticed. There is a serious shortage of 40, 30 and
20 goal scorers on this squad. And that Russian Kovalenko, who had 32 last
year, has six so far this year.
Mironov knows he's still a frustrating fella when it comes to
the power play.
"I have to make more improvements on the power play. I have to
get more power play points.
"Some games I'm good. Some games I'm really bad. I'm really bad
when I have a good chance to shoot and I'm still looking to pass.''
If he becomes a force on the power play, Mironov feels he can
really make his move.
"I think I can become the best defenceman in the league.''
He's now prepared to shout it out. That is his goal. He wants
his name on the Norris Trophy.
"I want it to be so the team always believes in me and the coach
always believes in me,'' he said.
The guy wants me to believe that Bobo the Clown, the player who'd
make the most incredible screw ups at the most critical moments, is dead.
"No more mistakes in the defensive zone that cost you the game,''
he says. "That was really tough for me. When you have 20 guys working really
hard and I make a last-minute big mistake to cost the game, it makes you
feel really bad. I want to be through that now. I don't want to do the
big mistakes like that again.''
IT TAKES GUTS
To come right out and say you want to be great takes guts. But
Bo Mironov says he thinks he can make it happen for him. And Kevin Lowe,
for one, says it's entirely up to him.
"It depends how far he wants to go,'' says Lowe.
"He has the skill of Rob Blake and Chris Pronger and those are
the two defencemen people talk about as the two new big stars.
"If he want to take it to the top, he can achieve greatness.
It depends on how badly he wants it. You definitely have to want it.
'`And it's a pretty big commitment. It's like Wayne Gretzky having
a big game against the New York Islanders on Wednesday and deciding to
have only two beers on Saturday,'' he said.
Or does Mironov drink Smirnov?
Nah, he's Canadian. Must be Molson.