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From a laughingstock to a contract of $ 50 million: the unlucky Russian survived in the NHL

History of the NHL knows many miraculous returns and transformations of Russian hockey players. Sergei Fedorov, after a six-month strike, immediately lit up in the playoffs and won the Stanley Cup with Detroit. Nikolai Khabibulin missed more than two years due to disagreements with the club, and then took the main league trophy with Tampa. Gorgeous seasons were successful after serious injuries to Andrei Markov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Bure. And how many skeptics are silenced by Alexander Ovechkin every year?!

However, these stories – flowers, if you compare them with the thorny path forward “Colorado” Valery Nichushkin. The larger the result that he achieved after all the failures looks. This is now Nichushkin – the owner of the Stanley Cup, the star of the strongest NHL team and a hockey player with a contract of almost $ 50 million.

Just three years ago, the Russian played at the minimum wage in the lower levels of the Avalanche. He was content with 10 minutes per game, and the entire hockey community made fun of him. No wonder, because the goalless streak in the NHL was approaching the mark of 100 games. He missed moment after moment, did not get into an empty net. His future in the league hung in the balance.

Colorado picked up Nichushkin on the free agent market. From him then refused “Dallas”. If not for the epidemic of injuries, perhaps the striker would not have found a place in the base. br>
“Did Valera score?” Hockey publics in social networks started the morning with such a question-meme. And he didn't score. It seemed that Valery was about to explode from bad luck and impotence, spit and return to the KHL. However, Nichushkin endured!

After the series ended at the 103rd “dry” game (including the playoffs), the fans saw a new version of Nichushkin. The one that delighted at the youth world championship in Ufa and in the games for the Chelyabinsk “Tractor”. At the same time, she was tempered by difficulties and became more confident, aimed at the highest tasks. And was it worth it to be content with little after all that had to go through?

Nichushkin did not calm down when he received a contract extension and more playing time. It has evolved rapidly. To the ability to cover the puck with the body and ram the defense of rivals, a good shot was added, which repeatedly rescued the “Colorado” in the championship playoffs.The Russian has become better defensively, it is more useful to play without a puck, and he has also honed such a difficult skill as playing on the “penny”. All this made him an excellent power forward. After winning the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup and a great start to the 2022/23 season, Nichushkin may well be considered the best in his role.

Yes, he is not Connor McDavid. However, among the supporting actors who can plow in the minority, hit an opponent hard, create an opportunity for a partner or score, there are no equals to Valery now.

< br>He is so cool that he did not notice on his way WADA's suspicions of violating anti-doping rules. This fall, the charges against Nichushkin were dropped. Although more recently WADA required him to confess to something he did not do. new NHL championship. We hope the series will last as long as the one you no longer want to remember.

The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors

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