Mikhail Tatarinov

Mikhail Tatarinov was just hitting his prime in Russia when he came over to the National Hockey League in 1991.

Tatarinov was in his 8th season in the Soviet Elite League, hi 5th season with Moscow Dynamo, when he was allowed to join the Washington Capitals, who actually drafted Tatarinov way back in 1984 with their 225th overall pick. Tatarinov had just come off of a 11 goal, 21 point campaign in 44 games in Soviet League play, a season in which he was named as a USSR First Team All Star.. More importantly he helped his team win the Soviet National title.

Also in 1990 Tatarinov represented his country at the World and European Championships. He scored 3 goals and 11 points in 10 games en route to being named the best defenseman at the Championships. He was also named to the tournament all star team.

International success was not foreign for Mikhail. He was a World Junior Championship all star in both 1985 and 1986, as well as being named the WJC's best d-man in 1986. In all he competed in 3 World Juniors and one World Championship. He also competed in Rendez Vous '87 and the 1991 Canada Cup.

Despite his solid play in International competition, Tatarinov was not well liked by the Soviet hockey authorities, especially Red Army head coach Viktor Tikhonov. Mikhail was a wild personality who marched to his own drummer. The Soviet hockey system punishes players who were deemed to be too individualistic and not fully team oriented.

Mikhail, who counted Philadelphia Flyers goon Dave "The Hammer" Schultz as his idol, also had a reputation as a bit of a dirty player in Europe.

"He is fearless. There are players eight and 10 years older who are afraid of him in the Elite League. They try to avoide him on the ice," wrote Soviet journalist Igor Kuprin.

The 5'10" 195lb blueliner from Angarsk signed with the Washington Capitals part way through the 1991 season. After playing in 12 games with Moscow Dynamo, "Tats" finished the year by playing in 65 games with the Caps. He scored 8 goals and 23 points.

Tatarinov was moved to the Quebec Nordiques for a draft choice in the summer of 1991. Mikhail had a good first year with Quebec. He appeared in 66 games and scored 11 goals and 38 points. However he would become the hard-luck kid in the 1992-93 season. He appeared in only 28 games, scoring 2 goals and 8 points before badly breaking his leg. Also, by this time Tatarinov had developed a bad back.

The Nords let the small but scrappy d-man go in the summer of 1993. The Boston Bruins took a chance on the injured defenseman. He would appear in only 2 games with the B's, as well as three with their farm team. In the end Tatarinov's back forced him to retire prematurely.

Tatarinov possessed a cannon-like shot with good offensive instincts. He had some trouble adjusting to the NHL game after years in Russia. It took him a while to adjust to the smaller ice surface which forced him to rush his on ice decisions. He was also a willing participant in physical battles, although wasn't big enough to dominate most NHL players. Despite his offensive upside and his feistiness, Tatarinov was an adventure in his own end. Often he was a spectator more than a participant when the puck was in his zone.


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