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Former NHL Star Shares Jaw-Dropping Tales of the Ultimate Russian Draft Bust

For his hands and talents, Nikolai Zherdev was selected fourth overall in the 2003 NHL Draft. Zherdev only played in the NHL for six seasons, despite having tremendous skill.

He received outstanding acclaim from Mike Richards, who called him the most gifted player he had ever played with. Richards also played with Claude Giroux and Alex Ovechkin.

He experienced other memorable moments like this goal throughout his NHL career:

But he struggled with a negative outlook and a dislike of dealing with authorities. He reportedly dozed off on the bench once, which is odd NHL behavior.

Zherdev also refused to complete the assigned workouts, so head coach Gerard Gallant began fining him $100 for each workout he skipped. In return, Zherdev sent the squad a $3,000 check to cover the cost of the workouts he wouldn’t be doing for the upcoming month.

Zherdev was a party animal who consumed a lot of alcohol. Regarding Zherdev’s English, Mike Rupp stated what follows:

“The more he drank the better English he spoke”

Zherdev, a fluent English speaker in a drunken state, would pretend to not understand what his coach meant when he told him to do a play he did not want to do.

This is unfortunate given the talent Zherdev had; if only he would take things more seriously, he may still be tearing up the NHL today.

Zherdev, a native of Kyiv, Ukraine, is arguably the greatest hockey player to ever represent his country.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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