The newest Adirondack Phantom stood by the back doors of the cold Civic Center basement, stripped down to tights and a T-shirt, sweating like he just ran wind sprints on a July afternoon.
He had just finished a torturous 15 minutes under the direction of strength trainer Ryan Podell after practice on Thursday. Podell had put him through devious-looking workout involving the kind of thick ropes you’d see on a sailing ship.
Welcome to America, Denis Bodrov.
Not much was typical about the Russian defenseman’s first week in Glens Falls. The Philadelphia Flyers’ second-round pick in 2006, Bodrov had been playing in the top Russian league until he split from his team in late November under cloudy circumstances. The Flyers signed him and assigned him to the Phantoms on Monday.
There’s two impediments to Bodrov’s assimilation into the Phantoms: his conditioning, or lack thereof, and the fact that he doesn’t speak a lick of English.
Podell will take care of the former. The later is sort of everyone’s problem.
Bodrov, for his part, doesn’t seem to worried, at least about the on-ice part.
“We talk the hockey language,” Bodrov said laughing, speaking through translator Slava Kouznetsov, the Flyers’ power-skating coach.
Kouznetsov has been a fixture at Bodrov’s side this week, but he left for Philadelphia on Thursday. So how will the Phantoms’ coaches communicate with Bodrov now?
“Sammy and I are good artists,” Phantoms coach Greg Gilbert said, referring to assistant coach Kjell Samuelsson.
He laughed, but he wasn’t kidding.
Samuelsson, who made the same transition coming from his native Sweden, oversees the team’s defense.
“If you draw it up, I think he understands that because they use the same kind of terminology,” Samuelsson.
Bodrov will work with a language coach weekly and being around the guys in the locker room will help, too.
Then there’s that other American institution.
“He better start watching all the TV,” Samuelsson said.
The process is beginning. At practice Thursday, Bodrov fired a pretty slap shot from the point beat the goalie top-shelf. His new teammates mobbed him like he scored a game-winner.
Earlier in the week, trainer George Sporing took him for a highlights of Glens Falls tour, showing him all the essentials, like the Chocolate Mill bakery. (No word on what Podell thought of that).
Hockey, as Bodrov said through Kouznetsov, is “much easier.”
Though he’s out of peak shape because he hasn’t played in two months, the talent that made him the 55th overall pick in the draft is evident.
“He can shoot the puck. He can play hockey. There’s no problem with that,” Samuelsson said. “There’s a lot of hockey players over there and you can’t make it that far in that country if you can’t play.”
By reputation, Bodrov is a puck-moving defenseman who skates well and plays with his head up. But he’ll have to adjust to the quicker North American game.
“I just hope he doesn’t get caught up in trying to overhandle it because he’s not going to have the same time and space as he did over in Europe,” Gilbert said.
Samuelsson said he spoke on Wednesday with a Flyers European scout, who had seen Bodrov play. The scout said whether his fresh start in the states works out a really depends on him.
“If he makes up his mind, he can play over here,” Samuelsson said. “It’s almost up to him to adjust to the game and learn to play over here. It’s going to take some time.”
Ask the Phantoms
Last week I put out a call for questions either for me, the team, or a player.
Our first comes in from Matt in Hartford, and it’s a good one:
How come when the Phantoms (and I assume the entire AHL and possibly NHL) go into a shootout, 60 minutes is put onto the (scoreboard) clock?
I thought it must be a coincidence, but I asked the off-ice officials at the Civic Center and it’s not. AHL rules say the clock must be running so if they need to review the videotape they can tell when something happened.
Also, in order for the goal lamps to go on at the Civic Center, the clock must be running.
If you’d like to have your question answered next week, send me an e-mail.
Tim McManus covers the Adirondack Phantoms. He may be reached at