Mikhnov does little in debut

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

It was a debut over six years in the making. It did not exactly live up to the hype.

Alexei Mikhnov played his first regular-season game for the Edmonton Oilers last night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

He started on the fourth line with Marty Reasoner and Brad Winchester, and failed to record a point. He eventually was benched, finishing with just six shifts for 4:21 of ice time.

"I wanted to see what he had and the game got tight and he turned the puck over a bit early, understandably," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"It was his first game. It was good to get that out of the way. It was good to finally see him in an Oilers uniform. He'll continue to get better and that experience is going to do him well."

Mikhnov was the Oilers first pick - 17th overall - in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

The native of Kiev, Ukraine, was brought over this season after playing his entire career in Russia.

Last week Mikhnov's former Russian League team, Yaroslavl, sued the Oilers and the NHL for Mikhnov's services.

"It had been a long time since I played," said Mikhnov. "It was over a month."

Mikhnov saw some action during the pre-season, but was a healthy scratch for the Oilers first seven games of the season.

He drew in last night in place of Ethan Moreau, who hurt his shoulder in Saturday's 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.

"I've been looking forward to this game for the last six years," Mikhnov said before the game. "I'm very excited."

The game was another step in the process for Mikhnov, who's trying to assimilate into the North American lifestyle.

Last week his wife Tatiana arrived in Edmonton. They are living out of a hotel, but will soon start looking for an apartment.

"It's good to have her here," Mikhnov said. "It had been two months since we've seen each other."


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