THE BIGGEST name in the NHL draft last Friday was Viktor Tikhonov, a first-round selection of the Phoenix Coyotes. Not the biggest-name player—just the biggest hockey name. Tikhonov's grandfather is the Viktor Tikhonov, who coached the Central Red Army and the Soviet Union national teams in the 1970s and '80s. The now 78-year-old hockey despot controlled his squads for 11 months of each year (the players lived in barracks) and famously ran them according to what Hall of Fame center Igor Larionov once called "Stalinist tactics."
"I would have loved to try," young Tikhonov said when asked if he would have wanted to play for his grandfather. "I heard all the stories. I heard them from him, too. It's kind of weird because as a grandfather, he's just a loving, caring person."
If the boss of Soviet hockey faced the world with a dour glare and matching personality, his cherubic grandson is as perpetually sunny as California, where he grew up and started playing hockey. (Tikhonov's father, Vasily, was a San Jose Sharks assistant coach from 1993 to '96.) Indeed, young Tikhonov, whose English sounds as though it came out of a mall, didn't even acquire a Russian passport until last summer, when he played in the world junior championships with Team Russia. He scored five goals in seven games and was named the tournament's best forward.
Phoenix general manager Don Maloney traded two second-round picks to Anaheim to move up to No. 28 and select the 20-year-old, who played for Cherepovets in the Russian Superleague last season. (In a reminder of the ever-shrinking hockey world, Coyotes coach and managing partner Wayne Gretzky, who often played against Viktor Tikhonov's teams, made the draft announcement. "He's the Man," young Tikhonov said after Gretzky called his name.) The Coyotes plan to bulk him up—Maloney joked he would put the 6'2", 187-pound winger on a "scout's diet"—and they think Tikhonov can pull third-line NHL minutes next season. "His personality fits," Maloney said. "He's upbeat, a fun guy to talk to, and we really like his game.... We look at him as a California kid playing in Russia, not as a Russian player."
June 29, 2008
The apple can fall far from the tree.
The Pop Culture Grid
|How do sports stars fit in?||Coldplay, Rihanna or Lil' Wayne||_______ has the coolest name in sports||Least favorite animal||Last movie that you went to see twice||People would be surprised to hear I ...|
|RYAN THERIOT Cubs SS||Lil' Wayne, of course||Kosuke Fukudome (right)||Cat||Lord of the Rings||Listen to gangsta rap on my iPod|
|LISA LESLIE Sparks C||Rihanna (right)||Tiger Woods||Snake, but I like snakeskin purses||The Great Debaters||Hate peanut butter|
|AARON COOK Rockies P||Coldplay||Chipper Jones||Snake||Pirates of the Caribbean||Will eat a double cheeseburger an hour before I pitch|
|JUSTIN DUCHSCHERER Athletics P||I don't listen to any of them||Huston Street||Cat||The Incredible Hulk||Read a lot|
8 Extra-base hits by the Mariners in a win over the Marlins last Friday, their first game under new manager Jim Riggleman.
8 Extra-base hits by the Mariners over their last five games under John McLaren, who was fired last Thursday.
22 Consecutive one-run games lost on the road by the Braves, a major league record; Atlanta hasn't won a one-run game away from home since Aug. 9, 2007.
4 Times in the last 22 years that Spain has had a game in a major international soccer tournament go to penalty kicks on the date June 22: the 1986 World Cup, the '96 European Championship, the '02 World Cup and the '08 European Championship.
1 Times Spain has won in those games: It beat Italy on Sunday to advance to the semifinals.
$35,000 Purse that Dan Wheldon earned for winning IndyCar's Iowa Corn 250 on Sunday; he donated the amount to victims of the recent floods in Iowa.
440 Distance, in feet, of the home run hit by Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia last Saturday in his first at bat of the season; only Grady Sizemore (445 feet) has hit a longer shot for Cleveland this season.