Unsatisfied with his ice time and role with the team, Alexander Burmistrov has made the choice to retire from the NHL. It is not the first time this regime had a disagreement with a Russian player and it won’t be the last.
The Vancouver Canucks will be down another forward for the rest of this season. Alexander Burmistrov will choose to retire from the NHL to return home. We got confirmation from his agent (via Rick Dhaliwal).
Frankly, the decision is not surprising. Burmistrov signed with the Canucks last summer, hoping to establish himself as a full-time NHL player. He was a former eighth overall pick from the 2010 draft and leaves the NHL with 101 points in 348 games.
Burmistrov did not live up to his draft expectations, but at least teams such as the Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes gave him a chance to play. He was in and out of the lineup and when he did get to play, his ice time was limited.
Troubling trend for the Canucks
Head coach Travis Green has his favourites on this team, and Burmistrov was not one of them. Losing him does not drastically affect the lineup. However, it represents a more pressing issue in the team’s treatment of Russian players.
There is a reason Burmistrov wanted to return home. When you sit for most of the games and play few minutes when you finally get a chance, I would be fed up to. Anyone with the “earn their ice” mantra better stop lying to themselves when we are seeing Nic Dowd playing more minutes than our younger and more talented players.
Time and time again, we have said on this space and on Twitter that you can’t treat Russian hockey players like Canadians. There is a difference of culture and teams should not fear a player’s leave to the KHL.
Instead, they should respect the possibility of leaving if they don’t give a player a fair shake. It is one of the reasons Nikita Tryamkin left despite this team firing the coach that would not give him a chance.
Here is a list of Russian players on NHL teams or in their farm system. Without Burmistrov and Vadim Shipachyov, there are 32 Russian players available to both leagues. The St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning learned how to welcome Russian players, allowing them to succeed. This concept is not difficult and teams unwilling to make this kind of effort are left losing prospects like the Canucks.
Fate of Goldobin and how this ends
If you didn’t know, Dan Milstein is also the agent for Nikolay Goldobin. He knows when to say the right things and is doing that now. Goldobin is getting playing time because of the injuries that have affected the forward group.
When everyone is healthy, do you honestly think he is in the starting lineup? The Canucks have learned nothing and it would not surprise me if Goldobin requests a trade by next year if leaving for Russia is not in the cards.
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We would love if this team operated on a meritocracy, but there is no way that Green will sit older players on larger contracts for a young guy is drastically better. Valeri Nichuskin was driven to the point of leaving by the Dallas Stars.
It would be nice for the Vancouver Canucks to learn from the mistakes of themselves and others, but look at the last three years. I don’t expect any drastic leaps in progress. Just because you suddenly decide to draft Russians again (which Benning has not done since 2015), it doesn’t mean that they will automatically stay.
So, how does the story with Burmistrov end? The Canucks will likely waive him to terminate his contract and that will be that. I did not think Burmistrov would set the world on fire this year with his play, but I saw him as an asset that could fetch a late round pick at the trade deadline.
Now, we see him walk for nothing, without getting the chance to find a better opportunity for him. However, the rest of league probably does not think much of him if they see a player that can’t crack one of the worst rosters in the league. Those teams don’t know what’s going on behind the bench, but that rarely matters. We wish Burmistrov the best of luck back home.