It turns out the suggestion of friction between Alex Burmistrov and Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel wasn’t exaggerated at all. During an e-mail interview with The Sun on Tuesday, the Russian agent for Burmistrov conceded the relationship with Noel was one of the factors in his client’s decision to sign a two-year deal to play for Ak Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League. “That was one of the reasons why he left,” Yuri Nikolaev said through translator Ruslan Kim. Although Nikolaev didn’t expand on the nature of that relationship or where things broke down, it’s clear that a four-game banishment to the press box as a healthy scratch didn’t sit well with Burmistrov, who managed only four goals and 10 points in 44 games last season while averaging 15 minutes and 38 seconds of ice time. During his two seasons with the Jets, the Russian forward showed flashes of his skill but never blossomed into the scorer the Atlanta Thrashers envisioned when they drafted him in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Burmistrov was a prominent penalty killer, played with passion but ignored suggestions from Noel that he play more of a north-south or straight line game. Burmistrov, who has 23 goals and 58 points in 194 NHL games, seemed to be destined to play a third-line role again this year if he had accepted his qualifying offer from the Jets. One factor that hasn’t been discussed much is Burmistrov’s desire to suit up for Russia in Sochi in February. “Certainly, Alex will do all his best to be an Olympic team player,” said Nikolaev. Aside from his nationalistic pride, the lure of playing in his hometown of Kazan was difficult for Burmistrov to ignore. “It is huge! To play for his home club, audience and fans in home country,” said Nikolaev. As an added bonus, Burmistrov will be getting a raise, as Nikolaev confirmed reports that his client’s salary “is more than $2 million USD.” For those who believe that Burmistrov is heading home for good, think again. Nikolaev wrote “of course yes” when asked if Burmistrov would consider returning to the NHL in the future.
Friction with Noel a reason for Burmistrov's departure, says agent
Winnipeg Sun | Jul 10