When the news came out earlier this week that Nikita Filatov was unhappy to be playing for the Senatorsí farm team in Binghamton, I was very surprised.
And when there were further rumours of Filatov wanting to play in the Kontinental Hockey League instead of working on his game and showing some character to get back to the NHL, I was very disappointed, then a little ticked off.
First things first.
Nobody is happy to be in the minors. If you are, thereís something wrong with you.
Every player wants to be in the NHL.
I played in the minors for three years before I became a full-time NHLer and I played with and against many players that put in their time, worked hard and didnít complain, at least not to the media, that they werenít getting a fair shake.
To be fair, Filatov is only 21 and sometimes things get out or you say things that can be misconstrued or twisted.
The Filatov I saw earlier this year with the Senators was one that was working really hard trying to create some offence and trying to play the right way. When I spoke with him, he struck me as a very good person who cared and wanted to succeed.
When you look at it through his eyes, I can understand that Filatov is disappointed to be playing in the AHL. He was the 2008 NHL draftís sixth overall draft pick for Columbus and he ended up playing more games for their minor affiliate than the big club.
I get the disappointment, but at the same time young players like Filatov need to give their head a shake.
If playing for the Senators and in the NHL is a goal of Filatovís, and I think it is, then playing in Binghamton is the best spot for him as a player right now.
The Senators are a rebuilding team and they need high-end skill, Filatov has that and he will never get a better opportunity to eventually play in the NHL if he goes back to Russia.
Right now, the Senators are hot. Theyíre playing well so unless thereís an injury, Filatov will probably not be recalled. In the meantime, he needs to stop talking and continue to play like he did Friday night against Hamilton, picking up two goals and an assist.
He will get his chance. Many great players, some of them high draft picks, had to put in some time in the minors. Bobby Ryan, Jason Spezza and Ryan Getzlaf come to mind.
All were first-round draft picks and all of them tore it up offensively in the minors and proved through their play that they were too good for the minors.
Some guys have to put a little more time in than others. Just ask Matt Carkner, who spent eight years in the AHL, or Kris Draper who played more than 180 games in the minors and was traded for a dollar to the Red Wings, before eventually persevering and playing more than 1,000 NHL games and winning multiple Stanley Cups through hard work and determination.
I have no doubt Filatov has the skill to play in the NHL. Right now he needs to show he has the character.
TOP FIVE PLAYERS WHO BATTLED IT OUT IN THE MINORS
1. Zdeno Chara: The Big Z was a work in progress as he patrolled the blue line for the Lowell Lock Monsters.
2. Shea Weber: He didnít become great overnight.
3. Marty St Louis: The Flames didnít want him. Dohhhh!!!
4. Tim Thomas: The feel-good story of the NHL last season took a lot of long years to come together for the made-for-tv after-school special.
5. Daniel Briere: One of the NHLís top offensive players had nothing handed to him early in his career.