Valeri Nichushkin didn’t skate Monday at Dallas Stars development camp due to an ankle injury. Nichushkin has been having issues at the camp because he hasn’t had his own skates and the ones the Stars gave him have been causing him some pain, and apparently led to the ankle issue.
Mark Gandler is Nichushkin’s agent. He’s been at camp the past few days, negotiating his client’s new contract, monitoring the young Russian’s progress at camp and working with the Stars to set up Nichushkin’s program for the summer. I had a chance to talk briefly with Gandler Monday and here are a few quotes.
On Nichushkin’s camp so far
“I think it went very well other than the fact that he didn’t skate for a long time and the skates he got were giving him a lot of pain. He had to leave early in one session and couldn’t do much on the second session. His skates arrived this morning, we just saw them brought in. His condition is much better today, and hopefully he’ll get on the ice for the second session today. (Note: He didn’t skate Monday).
On Nichushkin’s plans for the summer
“The plan is for him to stay (in Dallas) all the way through until training camp. He will probably have two-a-days on the ice and strength and conditioning. He’ll be as active as possible for the summer, familiarize himself with the surroundings and then give it a shot in camp.”
On getting acclimated to life in North America, learning the language
“He is going to be staying with a family in Frisco. We visited with them yesterday. They have a beautiful home and a beautiful family. There seemed to be instant chemistry among everybody. Valeri, before the end of the tour, said, ‘Sign me up.’ The most important thing it will accomplish is that Valeri will speak English by the end of the summer because if he wants to eat, do something or go somewhere he is going to have to speak the language. There will be no translators in the house. He understands that. He loves the fact that he is going to be immersed into this family and the English speaking situation. He won’t have a choice but to speak the language. Plus, he’s going to have English lessons for grammar and structure and that type of stuff.”
On his goal for next season
“His goal is to play in the NHL.”
On if he doesn’t play in the NHL, does he go back to the KHL?
“Yes, we have no choice over this. The Russian club Dynamo was very nice about it. They allowed him to leave with two years left on his contract to pursue his dream. Their condition was – and it was verbal – and in the hockey business a handshake is better than anything, that’s been my experience over 23 years as an agent. I’ve never had an issue with a single person in the league who said he would do something, and then wouldn’t do it. We signed a contract, as you know, and the contract allows that to happen.”
On if the Stars decided after 20 games in the NHL, they want to assign Nichushkin somewhere, do they send him to the KHL?
“They can. They can’t send him to the minor leagues without his permission. In theory, he can say, ‘Sure, I’ll go to the minors.’ But practically speaking, we would be violating the word we have given Dynamo. I am more concerned about the situation that he makes the team from training camp. I believe if he is 20 games into the season, like you said, I think we are in good shape. I don’t think they’ll be sending him anywhere. He has the size and the ability and the desire to play. I think by the time the summer is over and the training camp begins, I think in the first couple of days the coaches will have a good idea what he can do for the team.”