Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Hockey Nomad Goes To Russia

Dave Bidini is a guitarist in the Rheostatics. It turns out that he is also one damn good documentary film maker.

His brief documentary "The Hockey Nomad Goes To Russia" was filmed during the 04/05 lockout season, and It's terrific stuff, I highly recommend it. It is being replayed tonight on CBC Newsworld at 10 PM ET/PT.

I remember seeing this film during the lockout. The last stop, in the city of Omsk, was terrific. The clips from the crowd during the game there was great stuff, it reminded me why I was a hockey fan. If my memory is right, they were playing AK Bars Kazan, who had loaded up on expensive NHLers. And it was a hell of a game.

Jaromir Jagr, of all people, chose to play in Omsk. It was a rejuvenating year for the enigmatic Czech in this smallish Siberian city. There are some great stories from that season with Jagr if you ever google for them. Jaromir had apparently seriously considered staying there instead of coming back to the New York Rangers, and sometime around Halloween he mentioned to a reporter that he was still considering moving back to play their in the 06/07 season.

I notice in Matheson's weekend blurb in the Edmonton Journal that Jagr is saying he plans to spend his summer in Omsk.

I think that this is also the town where they followed a young kid, just 13 or 14 years old, who is supposed to be a big thing in the future. You see the pressure on the kid, how much the family is relying on him to make it. Fascinating stuff, something outside of what we could really experience here.

I think that I've been to Omsk myself, or more properly "through" it on the Trans-Siberian railway, but I don't remember it. I took that journey just after the wall fell, about '91 I think. At the time the former Soviet Union was in a state of flux, and I really wasn't sure if it would be open to tourists from the west for much longer. Inspired by a book I read, and arranged by the world's most incompetent travel agent (Gary in London: "I can't get you the tickets to you in England, just get to Moscow, go to the big white building behind the Bolshoi, up the stairs, through the arch to your right, it's about two or three doors down, just ask for Uri" what a fuckwad old Gary was, but I digress) I remember that area though, just east of the Urals, geographically a lot like Wyoming, a beautiful place. The word 'Siberia' conjures up all sorts of unpleasant images, but I thought that most of it looked like a relatively good, albeit isolated, place to live.

And something about the place or the experience has resonated with Jagr. Good for him.


Blogger sacamano said...

I've gone to a bandy game in Irkutsk. Now that is fun. Sort of like the Heritage Classic for every game -- only colder and with more vodka.

4/12/2006 2:44 pm  
Anonymous James Vander Woude said...

I think the bad associations with Siberia mostly have to do with the Soviet prison camps that dotted the landscape.

4/12/2006 9:14 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Man, I used to love the Rheostatics. Still do I guess. Anyway, Bidini's a good non-fiction author as well, for hockey and otherwise. I didn't even know about this documentary.

Unfortunately, I won't be catching this one as the People's Network isn't exactly blasting into homes in Atlanta.

On that note: The NHL has gone completely over the edge on their OLN schedules. Instead of trying to show meaningful games this year, they are trying to make me hate Ovechkin and Crosby by televising at least one of their games every week. As of right now, I officially hate both of them. It's almost enough to make me start a Phaneuf for Calder chant. Almost.

4/12/2006 9:21 pm  
Anonymous Julian said...

Crap, i forgot to watch this again.

Bidini really is a great author (though "the best game you can name" isn't anything special), "The Tropic Of Hockey" made me fall in love with the game again when I read it a few years back, his passion for the sport rather than the NHL transferred over to me.
The part where he talks about Romania actually helped me to get my current girlfriend, who is from Romania. When I met her, the stuff in Bidini's book was all I really knew of Romania (I figured bringing a hated dictator would be the wrong path to follow) and so I actually had something somewhat interesting to talk to her about.

now that I think about it, is there anything Bidini can't do?

4/12/2006 9:24 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

sacamano said...

I've gone to a bandy game in Irkutsk. Now that is fun. Sort of like the Heritage Classic for every game -- only colder and with more vodka.

That sounds really cool. And clicking o that link, I think I'd be good at bandy, like broomball but different (i'd cherrypick like Rick Nash BTW, and without shame, that's my game at broomball :-) ). Plus I remember Irkutsk from many a Risk (TM) game as a child.

Looked like a cool city, I liked the wooden architecture, at least the bits along the railway. And one bigass lake there, I've heard you can actually rent a proper Russian submarine there, seriously. There was a Scottish guy on the train who was stopping there for a week before doing the return journey, he sold me on the place (killed a shitload of Blue Ribbon with the guy as the train rolled along ... Pepsi and Coca Cola should have been taking notes from the marketing boys at Pabst :-) )

Damn. Now I want to go to Irkutsk. And Disney World or Cancun is about 1000x more likely as the next holiday destination. A shame. :(

4/13/2006 11:08 pm  

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