Guys I think the Blue Jackets might be good.
it is in fact the only example I can think of where so many Russians contributed to a Stanley Cup champion.
Yeah it's surprising given how many star players in this league are Russian, but prior to this year, here's a full list of all of the Russian players to win the Stanley Cup since 2009 (and played at least one Cup Finals game):
- Evgeni Malkin (2009, 2016, 2017)
- Slava Voynov (2012, 2014)
End of list.
There are a couple of other players (Sergei Plotnikov on the 15-16 Pens, Andrei Loktionov on the 11-12 Kings) who didn't play a game in the Cup Finals that year (Loktionov) or were traded before the playoffs (Plotnikov).
In that same span, there have been four Stanley Cup Champions that did not have any Russian players on their roster.
The last team to win the Stanley Cup with multiple Russian players in a Cup Finals game lineup, prior to this season's Caps (who had three in Ovi, Kuznetsov and Orlov), were the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins (Malkin, Gonchar, Fedotenko).
Some teams (Anaheim, for example) tend to steer clear of Russian players for similar reasons.
And while Washington's cup win this past season disproves this (and he was mostly joking anyways), a former NHL player once told me 'you can't win a cup if you team has more than one Russian.' He talked about how when he'd been on teams with one Russian player, that player would buy into the goal; when more were brought in via trade or free agency, they'd become a bit of a clique, and that in they typically value the Olympics and their country over winning a Stanley Cup.
Again, he was mostly joking (I think), but your point of Russian players dreaming of life in the NHL life certainly seems to be what's going on with the Panarin situation – he wants a glamorous life in New York, if the rumors are to be believed.
Typically when athletes go public with contract disputes, it's about maximizing their value or trying to get away from a non-contender. With Panarin, it's neither of those – he simply doesn't like the city. It's not like he'd get more money from a non-Columbus team, and Columbus is certainly a contender with him in the fold.
He could've forced a trade behind-the-scenes or actually given Jarmo a list (which Jarmo denies) to facilitate everything sooner and not drag all of his teammates into this. By playing it like he has, it's become a huge slap in the face to them (and the fans, obviously).
I don't know how this all became public. Was it from the CBJ side or from the Panarin side (or is it unknown)?
Unclear; however it certainly wouldn't seem to be in the team's best interests to make that situation public.
Obviously it's easier to say this a few years later, but I think Nash handled his situation better than Panarin. He signed a long term deal here and carried the team for years and wanted to be on a winning team. If Panarin's alleged list is to be believed, he's more interested in teams like the Rangers, Islanders and Panthers. The first two teams listed there are in rebuilds and the Panthers still haven't put it all together.
Nash's move was about winning – and his departure left the Blue Jackets in better shape for what they were (a rebuilding team). The Blue Jackets have done right by Panarin and he's tanking his own trade value – and for non-hockey reasons.
That said, he’s 26 yrs old and wants either the bright lights of the big city or the surf and sand of the beach. Can’t fault him for that decision either I guess.
Fair – he certainly doesn't have to stay in Columbus, and I'm not faulting him for wanting to reach free agency. I have issues with how his camp is playing this whole thing.
Still, devil's advocate on the 'can't blame him for wanting to go to a big city or beach' part: it's not like he has to spend ALL of his time in Columbus. He's going to spend the season traveling and practicing with the team, settling into a routine of morning skate/practice - nap - game - sleep/travel that doesn't allow for much leisure. The Jackets are able to offer him an eighth year and willing to match or exceed any AAV he'll get on the open market. Let's say that's $11M – it's not like he couldn't live it the hell up in the offseason (while having a damn palace in Columbus, too) with that money.
I don't think he had any reason to play it as he has.
Wanting to reach free agency (and letting the team know up front) is one thing. Creating a media circus and publicly stoking the flames is another, and ends up dragging his teammates and coach into this whole thing. The impact of 'distractions' in sports is overblown but not negligible, either. By making his desires public, his trade value goes down. With a lower trade value, it becomes harder for Jarmo to move him. The longer it takes Jarmo to move him, the more of a circus this becomes.
Panarin and Millstein have long said that they're operating this way out of respect for the team. If they truly did respect the team, they wouldn't have issued a fake ultimatum or tanked his trade value.