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Dave King on Kulemin

Just finished reading King of Russia - Dave King's take on his one-year coaching stint in the Russian Super league.

It's a nice, quick read  with plenty of insight into coaching, game prep, cultural differences in the game (the Russians don't match lines and can't figure out King's tactics) and cultural changes underway in Russia. It also has a lot of Leaf content (Yushkevich, Igor Korolev and Kulemin all played for King, along with Malkin).

Here's King in 2005-06 commenting on the Leafs Nikolai Kulemin:

Kulemin is an '86 born and hasn't received much attention until now [post WJC with Malkin]. I always had the sense that our organization viewed him as a role player. I see something completely different. I like his size and his speed, but mostly I like his game sense, something that a lot of older, more experienced Russian players don't have. He reads off his teammates so well that he's always providing defensive support if someone else is jumping into the attack. His skill level is high enough to play with Malkin, which makes them perfect as line-mates: Malkin should take the risks he does to generate offense, and yet it rarely causes us a problem because Nikolai is providing backup.

The NHL's Central Scouting bureau has Kulemin rated extremely low, but I wonder if he didn't catch some eyes at the world juniors. In my view, he'll become a very complete and consistent two-way NHL player. Every day he's the first one on the ice with a pail of pucks and then the last one off, picking up the pucks. He's quiet and polite off the ice, but plays a physical style on the ice. There's tempo and flare to his game, which doesn't necessarily reflect his personality. Someone is going to get a good one in Kulemin.

 

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.

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