Kostitsyn impressed by Datsyuk

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:39 PM ET

As a Montreal draft pick and the younger brother of a Canadiens player, you have to go fairly big league to impress London Knights forward Sergei Kostitsyn.

But the 18-year-old Belarussian was clearly thrilled to chat with Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk in his native tongue earlier this week when several Knights trekked to the Motor City to watch Corey Perry and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks play the Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

"Russian and Belarussian are almost the same," Kostitsyn said. "He asked me where I was playing and how I liked it. It was good (to talk to him)."

The 27-year-old Datsyuk, who hails from Sverdlovsk, Russia, isn't the biggest player, but he has a boatload of skill, something that didn't go unnoticed by the talented Kostitsyn.

"Good hands and a good head," said Kostitsyn, referring to Datsyuk's smarts on the ice.

After the game, Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan brought the Knights into his club's dressing room for a look around and to meet some of the players.

"It's good -- better than ours (in London)," Kostitsyn said with a grin, "But it's not as nice as Montreal."

The Knights were then taken to dinner at Cheli's Chili, a downtown Detroit restaurant owned by ancient Wings defenceman Chris Chelios.

"We were brought to the second floor for our own private meal and it was great food," Knights forward Jordan Foreman said. "In the parking lot, there were unbelievable cars like Beemers, Bentleys and then there was our big white van."

It's all different stuff for Kostitsyn, whose homeland's government was recently described as one of the "last outposts of tyranny in Europe" by the United States. The eastern European country goes to the polls tomorrow to elect its president and the U.S. has been highly critical of "attempts at intimidation, electoral abuse or violence" in the name of longtime leader Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Though he is old enough to vote, Kostitsyn said isn't all that interested in politics back home.

"Lukashenko was good for hockey," he said. "But I don't care about who wins or anything."

Kostitsyn meets with a tutor in London at least once a week to help him with social interaction, including skills native Londoners take for granted, like placing an order at Tim Hortons.

"We hear Sergei is ahead of his brother (Andrei) in English right now and his brother played in (Hamilton) last year," Knights assistant GM Jim McKellar said. "He's a good teammate and one of the most popular guys in the dressing room. The guys actively seek him out to do things, which really helps."


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