Sergei Mozyakin might be the greatest player the nhl has never seen. He has



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Sergei Mozyakin might be the greatest player the NHL has never seen. He has all the attributes of a major star, a celebrity and as well as a sportsman: twice a Gagarin Cup-winning captain at Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the only man to play in every one of the KHL’s eight All-Star Games, five times a medallist with Team Russia at IIHF World Championships and, currently, the second highest all-time goal_scorer in the Russian or Soviet leagues. His tally of 424 is just four goals His 424 goals are only four shy of Boris Mikhailov’s record (if counting only regular seasons of EHT & Int’l & KHL & Russia on EliteProspects); last October he became only the third player to reach 400, and the first to do so in the post-Soviet era when Russia’s biggest stars at last had the opportunity to cross the Atlantic.

He’s been described as ‘a goal_scorer sent from God’ by double two-time Olympic Champion champion Alexander Kozhevnikov and ‘the face of the KHL’ by Alexei Yashin. The latter comment came at the recent KHL end-of-season award ceremony in Moscow where Mozyakin took his career tally of individual prizes increased his individual prize count to 28 after scooping the top goal_scorer, top point_scorer, ‘gentleman on the ice’ (officially named the ‘Gentleman Award’) and season’s MVP awards. Even allowing for his relatively small stature – 5 ft 11, 192 lbs At 5-foot-11, 192 lbs, – Mozyakin’s achievements should have been be enough to earn him a shot at in the NHL, an Olympic appearance or two and a solid reputation throughout the hockey world.

Instead, the 35-year-old from Yaroslavl has spent his entire senior (define senior?) career in Russia, representing CSKA Moscow (or CSKA Moskov), Atlant Moscow Region and Metallurg, and missed the cut for both Vancouver and Sochi. As Russia prepares for the World Cup of Hockey in September, Mozyakin still won’t get his shot at top competition best-on-best play: Oleg Znarok omitted him from the party in favour favor of players with stronger defensively qualities.

A big fish in a small pond? Perhaps, but even at home, Mozyakin is hardly big box office. Advertising Advertisement hoardings in Moscow are more likely to feature Ilya Kovalchuk, currently at SKA St. Petersburg, or former Team Russia captain and Ak Bars Kazan legend Alexei Morozov. Alex Ovechkin boasts more than 2 two million Twitter followers; Mozyakin doesn’t even have an account. Media interviews are given reluctantly, if at all: after that historic 400th goal, scored in a road win at Torpedo Nizhni Nizhny Novgorod, Mozyakin said nothing in the mixed zone, releasing a statement via Metallurg’s website the next morning after the game. This is He’s not a man who seeks attention away from the ice. According to Metallurg’s president, Viktor Rashnikov, the prolific forward has not hasn’t even requested a bonus as and for when he breaks Mikhailov’s long-standing scoring record.

Yet this apparent aloofness evaporates in the locker room. Ilya Vorobyov, who took over as head coach in Magnitogorsk early this season after working as an assistant to Mike Keenan, reckons that Mozyakin’s biggest contribution to winning two Gagarin Cups in three seasons cannot be recorded in the box scores. “His personality is as important as his scoring ability,” said the coach, who briefly played alongside Mozyakin in Mytischy. “We are not just looking for a bunch of good players, but a really united group and Mozyakin is instrumental in providing that.”

Team-mate Teammate Jan Kovar, who arrived from the Czech Republic in 2013 to play centre with Mozyakin and Danis Zaripov, credits his captain with inspiring him to learn Russian. “I picked up the language pretty fast because I was spending so much time with Sergei,” Kovar said. “We were always together and I learned a lot from him.” Another import, Finnish forward Oskar Osala, rates Mozyakin’s English as ‘pretty good’ – not exactly the hallmark of a homesick Russian boy who went to Canada once and rushed back for his mom’s cooking. Even Znarok, while leaving him out of the party for Toronto, described him as “a great hockey player and a great guy”.

And what of the NHL? Mozyakin’s resumé includes four games with the Val-d’Or Foreurs in the QMJHL in 1998-99, where he tallied one assist and a minor penalty. Drafted by the Blue Jackets in 2002 (he was the 263rd pick), he never made it to Columbus. More recently, he was offered the chance to join up with the Penguins in the spring of 2013. In a rare interview in 2014, he explained that he faced a choice between Pittsburgh and joining his country at the World Championship … and followed his He picked the national team.



“Maybe if I’d gone to Pittsburgh I’d have got the chance to play in [the 2014 Winter Olympics in] Sochi,” he told journalists said at Magnitogorsk's pre-season media call. “But basically I’ve got everything I want in Magnitogorsk. My son plays hockey here and really enjoys it, my daughters go to school here. I don’t like running from place to place every year. If everything is good here, why not finish my career with Metallurg?”

Son His son Andrei (Andrew), now in his teens, is tipped as considered a rising star in the Magnitogorsk youth set-up that also produced Yevgeni (Evgeni?) Malkin. Indeed, club Club president Rashnikov has hinted that Mozyakin Jnr (?) might one day play on the same Metallurg team as his dad father, recalling Gordie Howe’s game of happy families. Perhaps that, more than a late chance at not the NHL or the Olympics, is Sergei’s final ambition for his career wish.

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