Sat Jul 16 01:01pm EDT
After being selected No. 65 overall at the 2010 NHL Draft (during which he gave us one of the top 10 post-Draft photos ever), Kabanov was late for team physicals at the start of training camp. A week later, he failed to learn his lesson and was bag-skated for being late yet again.
But Kabanov has been trying hard to turn over a new leaf since last year's tardiness issues. He was 30 minutes early at the start of this week's Islanders development camp at Nassau Coliseum.
Time will tell, but he's certainly talking that way.
"The coaches like talking to me, telling me what I'm doing wrong or right," said Kabanov after Day Four of camp on Friday. "It helps a lot so I can improve myself on the ice and off the ice; especially off ice issues, I try to fix them all the time. Trying to be on time everyday."
Kabanov's a charmer; able to switch from the serious role to a laid back, jokey manner in a heartbeat. There's still some maturing to do, but despite his past Kabanov hasn't raise any red flags in quite some time -- even after debuting a neck tattoo that features his nickname in Russian and the number 17 at the team's Draft party last month.
"In Lewiston, there's a guy who's making tattoos pretty good and he made me it and I'm like, 'Well, it's not really good for me because I'm a hockey player', but he's like 'It's gonna look sick.' But, I'll probably take it off in a couple of years."
Being indecisive and making impulse decisions are never the strong suit for most 19 year olds.
After two seasons with Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL, Kabanov was dealt to the Lewiston MAINEiacs. There he finished with 11 goals and 28 points in 37 games.
It was with Lewiston that Kabanov says he began this transformation that's still on-going. He started to become a leader in the room according to MAINEiacs head coach Jean-Francois Houle and was also named a nominee for the QMJHL's Humanitarian of the Year award.
Only July 1, the Islanders signed Kabanov to his three-year entry level contract and he'll be given every opportunity to prove himself at training camp in September. But with the amount of youth in the system right now, giving him more time to mature on the ice and off either with Bridgeport of the AHL or with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL it is the best decision to make. (Ed. note: Lewiston disbanded after the season and the League held a dispersal draft in June.)
Put on a line this week with the Islanders' last two top picks -- Nino Niederreiter(notes) and Ryan Strome -- gave a glimpse into what the future much look like for the team's roster, a trio that Kabanov said he hopes is reunited down the road.
So after his past transgressions, Kirill Kabanov's new leaf is just beginning to fully turn. Saying the right things. Doing the right things. Being on time.
It's now up to him to determine his future as an Islander; a future he so desperately aspires for at this moment in his career.
"You just want to get better in every point of your game."
"It helps you to work more on yourself to get in that arena [Nassau Coliseum] as soon as you can. To make that arena your home arena, you want it so bad after that."
Huge stick-tap to Christian Arnold of Islanders Hockey Blog for salvaging audio of Kabanov's scrum after my recorder decided to shut off six seconds in.
Photo credit: Getty Images