April 17, 2016

Dmitri Filimonov

When the expansion Ottawa Senators made Alexei Yashin the first player ever drafted in the team's history (2nd overall in 1992), they decided they best find the young Russian a countryman to aid with his adjustment on and off the ice.

So the Senators set their sights on Dmitri Filimonov, a lanky defenseman who would grow to be six-foot-four and 225 pounds. He had played for Russia in the 1991 Canada Cup, but otherwise was almost unknown in most NHL circles.

The native of Perm, Russia was already drafted by Winnipeg, 49th overall in 1991, but the Sens picked him up for the cost of a fourth round pick in 1993.

Filimonov arrived in Ottawa and played 30 games in 1993-94. It was a tough adjustment, especially since Filimonov spoke zero English when he arrived. That was never more evident than when he forgot his passport in Canada while on a trip to Tampa Bay. He was unable to board the plane and make the trip and, with Yashin unavailable, no one was able to held the bewildered foreigner.

He, like so many Soviet trained defenders of that era, also struggled with the differences between Soviet and NHL hockey. He tried to use his body to be a NHL impact defenseman by banging bodies but inexperience led to many bad reads.

Filimonov played two seasons in the minor leagues before returning to Europe in 1997. He initially played a season in Finland before returning to Russia to play in his hometown until 2006.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In my circle of Senators day-one season ticket holders, Filimonov is a legend.
His name never fails to make everyone laugh.
There were times that it appeared he forgot he was playing a hockey game and everything just happened around him. In effect, he's the living memorial to the ineptness of the Sens in the first three years.