September 13, 2010
Picture the hockey world doing the Claude Rains in Casablanca, "I am shocked! Shocked!" routine over the latest Kirill Kabanov news.
The erstwhile Moncton Wildcats forward spent much of his summer on Long Island in preparation for the New York Islanders training camp. That didn't help him with showing up on time for team physicals on Monday.
It almost feels like piling on to turn this into post fodder, but Kabanov has cultivated a certain notoriety, what with the ever-switching agents, leaving the 'Cats during the playoffs, his return to play for Russia in the world under-18 championship and that country's refusal to accept him. He is also as big a quote machine as a scoring machine.
No one denies Kabanov's ability. He was considerede a potential top-10 pick in the NHL draft coming into last season, and had flashes of brilliance with the 'Cats before a wrist injury truncated his first North American season. The Islanders subsequently scooped up with an early third-round pick. And there is also a school of thought that buying low on players with character issues is smart roster management, since it could pan out well if the player matures.
Kabanov can play, and surely QMJHL fans are hoping to see him in the league full-time. The rub is looking and acting the part counts for more in hockey than in other team sports that learn to abide nonconformists and outcasts, from Manny Ramírez to Chad Ochocinco.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.