How lightning coined Andrei Vasilevskiy – sunburn, painting and dreaming

The first time he met Steve Wasserman Andrei Vasilevskyhe was drawing.

Not a laserman, then LightningThe Vice President and General Manager, nor the Scout Chiefs or his crew could tell what the skinny Russian Ranger was messing about on the morning of 2012 NHL Draft. But the picture ended up being insightful, and the franchise changed.

Lightning had two first-round picks that year — No. 10 and No. 19 — which made for a busy night at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. They were one of 21 teams who interviewed Vasilevskiy at the gathering a month ago in Toronto, but that meeting was a chance for Russia’s best goalkeeper in decades to meet Yzerman, Julien BriseBois and the rest of the senior officers. Yzerman asked Agent Alexander (Sasha) Tignich to bring Vasilevskiy to their downtown hotel that morning for another conversation. They were meeting in their conference room, far from the noisy hallway and nowhere near the ground floor.

“We didn’t want to come to us,” said Almarai Scout Director.

Vasilevsky, dressed casually and quietly, sat next to Tignich, who acted as his interpreter for the 45-minute conversation. They discussed his family and KHL team, Ufa. Some NHL teams were wary of drafting the Russians, fearing they would stay in the KHL instead of coming, and Yzerman asked if Vasilevskiy would come to North America after Ufa’s contract expired.

“I want to play in the NHL,” Vasilevskiy said.

Will he join the Tampa Bay organization if selected?

Vasilevsky looked into the eye of Yzerman, and his message was transmitted.

“In two years, I’m going to play in Tampa,” he said.

shook hands.

Lightning planned to take a high goalkeeper in that draft, with Vasilevskiy and Malcolm Suban as the best potential customer that year. Tampa Bay found their man. They believed that Vasilevskiy – a remarkable talent compared to Vladislav Tretiak – would still be at number 19. Why? He was Russian and he was a goalkeeper. “Double whammy,” Murray said.

Draft is an imprecise science, it can be unpredictable. So you wouldn’t know Yzerman & Co. Only after hours how will it all end. But Murray said they were curious about what Vasilevsky was drawing the entire time they were interviewing. They asked him to show them.

Vasilevskiy smiled. Paper heart.

It was a guard mask, a drawing far from amateur. But Murray will never forget what was painted on her.

lightning bolt

Tyjnych met Vasilevskiy when the goalkeeper was 15.

He knew Vasilievsky’s father, Andrei, who was also a goalkeeper in the Russian second division. Andrei Sr. From Tyjnch to help advise his two sons, Andrei and Alexei, he is a man of defense. So Tyjnych flew to Russia and watched Vasilevskiy play against Omsk. He was amazed how Vasilevsky competed on every disc. And when the Ufa team led by Vasilevsky, with a score of 2-0, missed a goal five minutes before the end of the match, the young goalkeeper was stopped.

“He was like a tiger in the net,” Tyjnych said. “He was moving, he was focused. And I loved it.”

Tyjnych invited Vasilevskiy to work in his camp in OttawaWhich is what the goalkeeper used to do every summer to make the NHL. They had a figure skating coach there, a goalkeeper coach, someone he could work with in yoga and gymnastics. Vasilevskiy was so eager to go to the gym every morning that he wanted to get there two hours early.

“I’ve never had a goalkeeper who wanted to go so early,” said Tegnich.

Andrei Vasilevsky and his father Andrei Sr. (courtesy of Alexander Tignich)

Vasilevskiy had size and athleticism but needed to improve technically. But Tyjnych, a former Tretiak reserve, said there was one key comparison between the Russian legend and Vasilevskiy: their leadership.

“I remember Tretiak being an incredibly workaholic,” Tyjnych said. He worked six hours a day every day. He used tennis balls for hand-eye coordination. He was focused on being the best goalkeeper, and I’d compare that to Vasilevskiy 100%. I think (Vasilevskiy) got it from his father, who always told him, “If you want to be the best, you have to be the best every day.”

Tyjnych said there was only one young player he worked with and he felt he was going to be a star, and that was Sidney Crosbywho met him when penguins The star was 8 years old in a camp in Nova Scotia. Vasilevskiy?

“He was a good goalkeeper, he played for the national team, but I couldn’t tell you who he would be now,” said Tyjnych. “I’d be lying to you if I thought he was going to be a superstar, super, super. But I can tell how he did, how he’s run his life off the ice, he’s definitely going to be an NHL prospect. He wanted to be the best in the world.”

Murray saw Vasilevskiy for the first time in 2008 at the Under-18 Championship in Belarus. Lightning’s longtime director of scouts has been watching him for three years, but he will always remember his first impression. He saw strength, athleticism, and balance.

“It’s all you see today,” Murray said. “He was only 15 and 16 years old.

“He was the best recruiting goalkeeper I’ve ever seen.”

The question was, who has the guts to take it?

Jim Rutherford was a goalkeeper recruited in the first round in 1969 by red wings.

“It was out of the ordinary at the time,” he said.

More goalkeepers are now taken in in the first round, but it’s still a bit rare. Five goalkeepers were selected in the first round, including Spencer Knight (13, Florida, 2019) and Jake Oettinger (26, Dallas, 2017). There were a few mistakes in the few drafts before Vasilevskiy, from Chet Pickard and Tom McCollum in 2008 and Riku Helenius, the last Tampa Bay goalkeeper in the first (15th in 2006). It was also the year of the last Russian goalkeeper to reach that height: Semyon Varlamov (23 by capitals).

However, Vasilevskiy seemed like a sure thing.

It was no secret that he was good, said Rutherford. “It’s like every year, whether it’s a positioning player or a goalkeeper, it’s a question of whether someone is going to jump on the field and lead him.”

Murray always said if Vasilevskiy was a Medicine Hat kid, instead of Russia, he might have gone #1. The Lightning, Triggered by Laserman’s experience with the “Five Russians”, Opening up the world to Scouts. Their passport does not matter. They proved it in the 2011 draft, when Tampa Bay took on three Russians, Vladislav Namestnikov (first round), Nikita Kucherov (2nd round) and Nikita Nesterov (5th round).

“Lightning is open-minded and doesn’t fall into the same fall as people drag their bodies on a plane — passports and tape measure,” said former NHL GM Craig Patton, TSN’s longtime director of exploration. “Do not draft goalkeepers in the first round. Do not recruit Russians. Tampa Bay didn’t buy all that bullshit.

“The New England Patriots, they don’t get caught in this bullshit. These secrets aren’t hidden in Fort Knox with all the gold bars. The Lightning have faith and courage in what they do, and they don’t worry about what people say on the outside.”

Andrei Vasilevsky won the Con Smith Cup in 2021 (Mark LoMoglio / NHLI via Getty Images)

So why didn’t Lightning take Vasilevskiy in 10th place? They thought Vasilevsky would be there at 19 – it wasn’t a lock, but it was a good hunch – and they liked defender Slater Kucuk, who they felt was close to talent. Morgan Riley, who went No. 5. Koekkoek finished a streak of seven back-to-back defenses who were taken into that draft. Tyjnych said there were a few teams ahead of Tampa Bay at No. 19 that were interested, including Ottawa who was at No. 15.

Tyjnych said GM Senator Bryan Murray asked after the gathering if they could meet Vasilevskiy in Ottawa, where the potential goalkeeper was training. They were on their way to Russian defender Sergei Gonchar to help with the talks. But the day before the scheduled interview, Vasilevsky went to a water park for a few hours.

“It was a very, very hot day,” Tegnesh said. “It burned. It was very red. So I called Ottawa and said, ‘I’m so sorry, he’s feeling bad, maybe some fever. Can we hold off for two or three days?’ They said ‘OK,’ but they sounded frustrated.

“They never called me again.”

Tyjnych and Vasilevskiy were in the stands at the draft, watching as the footage ran along: Tom Wilson to the capitals at number 16, Thomas Hertle to me Sharks At No. 17. Teuvo Teravanian at No. 18. Then the clock was lightning.

“When everyone (Vasilevskiy) was dead and Tampa was awake, Steve looked at us,” Tyjnych said. “I knew he would be chosen by Tampa. I said to Andre, “Get ready, go now.” It was a very good moment for him, his family and everyone. It was the happiest day of Andrei’s life.

They brought Vasilevskiy to the ward after enlistment to meet everyone. He was wearing a lightning blue shirt, all smiles. Murray remembered when he spent time with Vasilevskiy at the Shawinigan Memorial Cup the previous month. Vasilevsky was in town during the match, and from what Murray can remember, the young Russian won by 50:50 draw.

Lightning hit the jackpot in that draft, as the league will soon find out. Vasilevskiy, Conn Smythe Prize Winner, He is already considered among the goalkeepers at Mount Rushmore, resulting in Tampa Bay reaching the Sixth Eastern Conference Finals in the past eight years. Will face lightning either Tornadoes or Notice on Wednesday in his continuing quest for the Stanley Cup championship for the third time in a row.

He said, “He went to the right place.” stars General Motors Jim Neal, who was an executive at Red Wings at the time. “It was a good move. They needed that kind of player. It’s a lot like what we did with Jake Oettinger. If you want him, you have to take him in the right place, because he may have gone a few more choices later.”

“You knew it was going to be good, but these kids are 18 years old – are they mature? How are their bodies going to grow? But their staff did a good job, they had a good feeling for him. Now you see Andre showing what he’s made of. He’s one of the best players in the world, It is absolutely the best.”

Tyjnych said the growth in the number of Russian goalkeepers’ chances began with the school set up by Tretiak. He said there are a few promising young goalkeepers coming soon. They have a new hero.

“For years, young Russian goalkeepers wanted to be Tretyk,” said Tignish. “The generation now, they want to be Vasilievsky.”

When Lightning brought Vasilevskiy to their development camp in Brandon shortly after the draft, goalie coach Frantz Jan said the kid’s impression on the ice stuck.

They first met in the ward at the draft, and for 10 minutes the two spoke mostly in sign language, since Vasilevsky did not know the language. Jan felt that the video he saw did not do him justice.

“We were on the ice together, and this is where I said, ‘Oh my God, we have a goalkeeper here,’” Jane said. “This guy is something else. I remember one of the first three over three. It was awesome. He was saving balls that most goalkeepers don’t make.”

As part of the development camp, the Lightning brass also brought their picks to the Amalie Arena. They toured the training facility, locker rooms and lounge. And of course the skating rink with a large scoreboard. Murray recalls how Vasilevskiy stayed in the hallway for a while, staring at a picture while others streamed into the stands next to the rink.

It was a photo of the 2004 Lightning Championship team walking around the Stanley Cup.

“Do you like the picture?” asked Murray.

Vasilevskiy smiled. He pointed to himself, then to the picture, and said, “It’ll be me one day.”

(Top photo of Andrei Vasilevsky in the 2012 draft: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)