Friday, May 22, 2009

Focus on a Thrasher: Boris Valabik

Boris Valabik, all 6'7'' of him, has the distinctive honor (and I'm sure he's thrilled) of being my favorite non-goalie NHL player. I'd always had a soft spot for him, how do you NOT love a 6'7'' Dman with a nasty disposition?? But my love for him was cemented when I was at a road game in Philly. I wish I could say that it was some fantastic play, a goal scored, a hard check or even a fight...oh no.

What made me fall for Boris was a pure puck bunny moment. I was on the Thrashers' side in Philly (dangerous) and waiting for them to come out. Periodically I would lean over the railing and look back into ramp leading to the dressing room. I saw a few players walk by. Then Boris comes strolling the equivalent of his underwear. (How'd you get that scar on your back, Boris?) I sat down and just looked at my husband with a stunned look on my face. My husband asked "who did you see??" I told him "I just saw Bobo in his underwear." LOVE ever since.

Boris Valabik was born in Nitra, Slovakia on February 14, 1986. There is just something funny about a big tough defenseman being born on Valentine's Day. Boris cleans up well, huh? This is him at Thrashers Casino Night. 1/2 of the reason I wanted to go. He and Slater were running the roulette wheel and having a good time. He was very friendly and didn't seem to mind much when I had to retake our picture together 3 times due to camera goof ups. I know I didn't mind.

Boris' nickname is "Bobo." I don't know why, but Exelby, the clown prince of the Atlanta Thrashers, gave him the name. Some hate it, I happen to like it. A giant mean defenceman being called "Bobo" amuses me. I'm a simple person.

In 2002-03, Boris began his hockey career by playing 46 games in his hometown of Nitra. He scored 2 goals and 12 assists for a total of 14 points. More impressively though, he racked up 145 penalty minutes.

Don't let that sweet face fool ya, Boris can rumble. After the 2002-03 season, he left Slovakia and played the 2004-2005 season for the Kitchener Rangers. He played in 68 games, but his points remained about the same with 3 goals and 12 assists for 15 points. Amazingly though, he nearly doubled his penalty minutes with a career high of 278 penalty minutes.

Boris continued his junior hockey career with the Rangers for another 2 seasons. He played fewer games and his points went way down. His penalty minutes remained high though.

At the 2004 NHL Draft, Boris was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers 10th over all. I was actually at this draft in Raleigh. I was just getting into hockey seriously and barely remember anything except Alexander Ovechkin. I did get to meet Bob Hartley and I saw Wayne Gretzky. I don't remember Bobo though.

Boris continued playing for the Rangers until 2006 when he joined the Atlanta Thrashers.

Boris spent 2 seasons with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. In 2007-08 he helped the team win the Calder Cup.

Boris made his NHL debut on March 19, 2008. He played 7 games with the Thrashers in the 2007-08 season.

Boris played 50 games this season and 7 last season and has yet to score an NHL goal. The announcers and tv crew attributed a goal to him on December 12 against Boston, but Kovy must have tipped it in. According to the stats and boxscore, Kovalchuk is listed as the goal scorer. Don't worry, Bobo. You will score this season, I know it! And, when you do, I will make you the biggest best sign ever!!

Boris wasn't known for scoring goals this season. He did get his 15 minutes of fame though. Unfortunately it was for being the victim of a Sidney Crosby cheap shot to the nuts. There is a giant melee and like 20 guys are fighting. Letang is wailing on Boris...which is kind of cute, but any way it's two guys fighting. In comes Sid the Kid (hello 3rd man in) and gives Boris a few cheap shots, then punches him in the nuts. Nice. Of course nothing happened. You can see the youtube here

So, besides his dashing good lucks, what does Bobo bring to the Thrashers? He's 6'7''. There ya go. He's also mean. Hockey's Future said he could be the meanest European defenseman to have ever come to the OHL. They also say he uses his body well and is a fearsome fighter. He also makes a good first pass and has a decent shot selection, including a slapshot he rarely uses.

Boris has some weaknesses, too. His puckhandling and mobility are frequently mentioned. Hockey's Future also mentioned his discipline being a problem. Some think he might have corrected his discipline a little too much. He is frequently criticized by fans for not fighting enough.

Boris had 8 fights this year, 6 in the regular season NHL, 1 in the NHL Preseason and 1 in the AHL. Last season (2007-08) Boris had 19 total fights! 1 in the NHL preseason, 15 in the AHL regular season and 1 in the AHL post season.

So Boris isn't fighting as much as he was or at least he isn't fighting as much as people seem to want him to. I think he's still a work in progress. I think he's addressing the areas of concern that have been expressed by coaches. If discipline has been a problem in the past, maybe he's trying to mature himself for the NHL. But hell, what do I know?

So Thornton, how does it feel to get your ass beaten by a guy called Bobo? Boris beat the shit out of Thornton. Think of the ass whipping he would have put on him if he had known he didn't even get that goal in this game!!!

You can watch the fight here:

One thing that drives me nuts about Bobo is how many penalties he takes. He can't skate across the ice sometimes without taking penalties. I think his size works against him on this one. I think the refs see him and think "Damn, he's huge, he has to be doing something wrong." Hopefully the more he plays, the more the refs get used to seeing him and see his play and unnecessary penalties will lessen.

Boris is said to have a good attitude and huge work ethic. Knowing that one of his biggest issues was his skating, he worked on it last summer. He would even work on his his off days. There is an excellent article on Boris working on his skating here:

Boris is too big to keep in the NHL, he's an international super star, too! Boris has represented his home country of Slovakia several times.
* 2003 World Junior U18 Championships (silver medal)
* 2004 World Junior U18 Championships
* 2005 World Junior Championships
* 2006 World Junior Championships
* 2009 World Championships

Awards and achievements:
* 2003-04 OHL First All-Rookie Team
* 2003-04 CHL All-Rookie Team
* 2003-04 CHL Top Prospects Game
* 2007-08 AHL Calder Cup

My favorite thing about Bobo? Well, okay, ONE of my favorite things is the Slovakian Death Stare or, as Colby Armstrong calls it, the "Stank Eye." He has this glare that he give opponents. Maybe that's why he is fighting less, he is giving more of the stank eye and people are scared!
So, that's my Bobo. I can't wait for next season!


Ms. Conduct May 30, 2009 at 7:27 AM  

Okay, so as an Aeros fan, I kinda hate the guy from his Wolves days. As I do quite a few Thrashers, honestly. It's a good rivalry though.

However, I can SO relate to your Bobo in his underwear story! It was seeing Aaron Voros in his Under Armor after a game that actually clued me in that I should probably go ahead and be a rabid hockey fan. If all those asses looked like that? Oh yeah, I'm in. Total PB moment, but whatever.

I was thinking the other day that I kinda pity men because they only get half the enjoyment that women do from hockey. We get these perfectly sculpted hunks to look at AND a great game to watch. Sweet.

Sunshine36616 May 30, 2009 at 11:57 AM  

OMG I totally thought of you when I posted this. I figured since you don't like the Wolves you weren't a Bobo fan. I might be a big fan of the teams you hate, but I have a few Aaron Voros pictures from a game at the garden if you want to see.


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