BY VIKTOR TIKHONOV
Hello again, everybody. With the season now in full swing, I thought I’d give you an idea of what my rookie year in the NHL has been like so far.
The most exciting thing that has happened through 16 games was my first NHL goal. The best part was, not only did I score against San Jose, the team I grew up watching (my dad worked for them, too), but we won the game as well.
It’s funny, I actually had a feeling earlier that day I would score. You don’t always get that feeling, but I knew something was going to happen. Both my parents were in the stands that night. After I scored, one of the guys fished the puck out of the net for me. Right now, the team is mounting the puck on a plaque, which is pretty cool.
All my teammates were very happy for me after the game and I got handshakes from everyone. It was neat being the center of attention.
I’ve started to get settled in Phoenix and recently bought a car – a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. It’s pretty fun. I’m also renting an apartment, thanks to my parents and former NHL goalie Jamie Ram, who works for the Coyotes and helps coordinate things like that. They did all the work; all I had to do was move in, which was great since there is so much going on right now.
Even though we’re a young club, we have a lot of veteran experience and guys like Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski, Todd Fedoruk and Olli Jokinen are all vocal in the dressing room. The defensemen are especially good about telling us forwards where they want us for a breakout – high or low on the boards, etc.
So far I’m happy with my play, but I can always improve. As for the team, we’re third in the Pacific Division right now and haven’t played our best hockey yet, which is kind of cool because it’s exciting to see where we can go from here.
We’ve played eight of our 17 games so far on the road, which has meant some good bonding time and a lot of flights. There’s always card games going on, but I usually spend my time playing Tiger Woods ‘09 on my PSP with Kyle Turris and team strength and conditioning coach Mike Bahn. We do match play, with the winner staying on to play the third guy, who practises on his own in the meantime.
The road is also a good place for practical jokes. The other day we were at a team dinner and everyone was sitting at one big table. Players started clinking their glasses as if someone was going to make a toast, but when I saw a couple of them looking at me, I knew something was going on. Sure enough, I looked down at my shoes and they were covered in ketchup. I got shoe-checked.
After that I was given a mission to shoe-check Turris and Mikkel Boedker. I crawled under the table to get Boedker, but he was sitting next to defenseman Keith Yandle and I got Yandle by accident instead.
Rookie mistake, I guess!
Viktor Tikhonov is a 20-year-old right winger who was drafted 28th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes at the 2008 draft. Last year, he played in the Russian Super League (now the Kontinental League) for Severstal and is the grandson of legendary coach Viktor Tikhonov. He’ll be blogging for THN.com throughout the 2008-09 season. Read his other blog entries HERE.