You could say Vlad Namestnikov has Crunch in his blood. His father John was a star on Syracuse's AHL team from 1994 to 1997, back when Vlad was just a toddler running around the halls on the War Memorial Arena. Now it's the young Namestnikov's time to shine.
"It's funny how it worked out," says Vlad, "my father was here and now I'm here, I think it's the first father and son to (both) play for the Crunch."
"I remember (his father) when he played for the Canucks," says Crunch head coach Jon Cooper, who is from the Vancouver area, "especially when the Russians were just breaking into the NHL. To sit here, coaching his kid is pretty cool to me."
John Namestnikov eventually moved back to Russia when his playing days were done in the U.S., and a young Vlad experienced a bit of culture shock as he learned to read and write Russian, and get used to the Russian style of hockey. And as the 19 year old first round draft pick began his rookie season here in Syracuse, who better to give him advice than his former Syracuse Crunch father.
"The first thing he told me is it's more physical," says Vlad, "so you have to keep your head up because there's bigger guys here, so you have to make decisions quicker and get our of the way so you don't get hit."
Vlad sat out the first part of the season with an injury, but has score two goals and added three assists in twelve games so far. Coach Cooper says he still has lots of developing to do, but is more than likely headed for greatness.
"These guys are first round picks for a reason, " says Cooper on Vlad's talent, "these guys aren't mistakes, these guys are going to be good players, it's just a matter of time (when they'll make it to the NHL), it's not if, it's when."
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