January 13, 2009
First, from the Department of Self-Congratulatory Nonsense: Thanks to Corey Masisak for giving Puck Daddy much play in his Washington Times article about the charms of translated Russian-language interviews with players. Pretty much the best thing to happen to Russo-American relations since the import of nesting dolls.
The article focuses on our most famous Dmitry Chesnokov collaboration, in which Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals attempted to undermine hundreds of millions of dollars in NHL and Reebok marketing. (If you haven't read Dmitry's latest interview with Nikita Filatov of the Blue Jackets, what are you waiting for?)
But it also gives a big picture look at this Russian interview trend, including well-deserved shout-outs to Tuvanhillbilly and Alex Ovetjkin, two blogs that really changed the game when it came to translations of Russian newspaper stories and videos. Three words: "Temple of Poetry."
It's not exactly rocket surgery to figure out why these interviews resonate with fans. The language barriers between the League's top stars -- and three of the top five current point-scoring leaders in the NHL were born outside of North America -- and the media remain one of hockey's most fundamental and aggravating barriers to the mainstream.
Take Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins. On the ice, completely captivating. Off the ice, he has about as much command of the English language as Chewbacca. Frank D. of Pensburgh has decided to monitor Malkin's progress in postgame interviews with the "Evgeni Malkin Learns English Collection."
For example, this interview from Nov. 15, 2008, in which Malkin responds to a crush of microphones with random words and many smiles:
Yet 11 days later in a postgame chat with FSN, Malkin is clearly calmer and more articulate. Even if he attributed his team's third period success to "shoot everybody." Progress!
Did we mention we're live blogging Caps/Penguins on Wednesday night?