The 2015 NHL Draft was the most-Russian draft the Flyers have ever had. But in the aftermath of it, and as that ages-old mindset is finally seeming to change, it feels like a good time to actually take inventory of the organization's long-time bias against Russians.
I saw this tweet from Russ Cohen earlier and thought it was interesting.
Just wrote something about Yevgeni Medvedev. If Provorov made the #Flyers I doubt they ever had a steady Russian defense pairing before.— sportsology (@sportsology) July 2, 2015
It got me thinking, and I wanted to go in and check just how many Russian defensemen the Flyers have had. As it turns out, and as you might have imagined, it's a pretty damn short list.
- Dmitry Yushevich: 1992-95 (197 games), 2002-03 (18 games)
- Dmitri Tertyshny: 1998-99 (62 games)
- Vladimir Malakhov: 2003-04 (6 games)
- Danny Markov: 2003-04 (34 games)
- Alexei Zhitnik: 2006-07 (31 games)
If you want to get very technical, Oskars Bartulis played 66 games for the Flyers and was born in the Soviet Union. But he's Latvian. So ... yeah, that's five Russian guys who have played a total of 348 games for the Flyers.
And of those 348 games, just six of them featured two Russian defensemen in the lineup at the same time, when Markov and Malakhov both played for the team for the final six games of the regular season. (These numbers don't count playoffs, but if you want to, you can add the 2004 playoffs too.)
So to answer Russ' question: if Ivan Provorov is ever paired with Yevgeni Medvedev, that will be the first steady all-Russian d-pair in team history.
What about forwards and goalies?
Ilya Bryzgalov (99 games, 2011-13) and Sergei Bobrovsky (83 games, 2010-12) are the only Russian goalies to ever suit up for the Flyers.
At forward, here's a complete list of Russian/Soviet-born forwards to play even a single game for the Flyers.
- Andrei Lomakin: 1991-93 (108 games)
- Viacheslav Butsayev: 1992-94 (99 games)
- Anatoli Semenov: 1994-96 (70 games)
- Andrei Kovalenko: 1998-99 (13 games)
- Valeri Zelepukin: 1998-2000 (151 games)
- Alex Zhamnov: 2003-04 (20 games)
- Dmitry Afanasenkov: 2006-07 (41 games)
- Denis Tolpeko: 2007-08 (26 games)
- Nikolai Zherdev: 2010-11 (56 games)
584 total games. That's ... it.
How about in the draft?
Here's a full list of players from the Soviet Union/Russia drafted by the Flyers. It is just 26 players, and three of them were drafted less than a week ago. Most of them never made the NHL.
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info from Hockey Reference and Hockey DB