You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Learning curve: At 19, Stars’ Russian rookie adjusting to life in U.S.


Frequent trips to the DMV helped define Denis Gurianov’s first season in North America with the Texas Stars.

Throughout the first half of the season, the 19-year-old Russian and first-round pick by the Dallas Stars in 2015, would make weekly trips to the DMV with Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal as he worked on obtaining a Texas driver license.

Gurianov already had an international license and could legally drive in the United States, but wanted to get his official American license and could also lower his insurance premiums at the same time.

“It was good bonding time,” Laxdal said. “You enjoy putting in the hours to help him, because he’s so willing to learn and this is a big step for him.”

Laxdal also proudly pointed out that Gurianov got a 100 percent on the test.

“It wasn’t too hard, parallel parking maybe (hard). Other than that, easy,” Gurianov said.

It’s all part of an on and off-ice cultural immersion for Gurianov, who is hockey’s equivalent of Valentine Michael Smith in the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land.

“I think he’s an intelligent kid and you must think of the perspective he must have, being that young come here and being in a strange place,” Texas Stars teammate Brandon DeFazio said. “Plus, and he’s never mentioned it, but there must be pressure being that high of a pick and all that.”

DeFazio, an AHL veteran at 28, has helped Gurianov feel more comfortable in Texas and has acted as a mentor for the teenager.

Gurianov has his own apartment, but lives in the same complex as DeFazio and a couple of the other Stars. Early in the season DeFazio helped Gurianov figure out how to pay bills and get his utilities in order, while they also took shopping trips to furnish the apartment.

“Getting his apartment set up was pretty funny, everything was fresh for him,” DeFazio said. “He didn’t understand some of the smallest things like getting cutlery, and he seemed to want the opposite of what I ever I picked at Walmart.”

And you have to add a degree of difficulty for the language barrier. Gurianov didn’t speak a word of English at this time last year, but now feels confident enough to conduct an interview with the help of the Texas Stars public relations staff and still takes weekly lessons.

“I think it’s much better,” Gurianov said. “I understand way more.”

Gurianov’s english and off-ice comfort level has actively reflected his play on it.

Early in the season he was a quick, raw skater who often looked out of position. But as the season progressed he’s gotten better positionally, has earned a spot on the Stars top line, and has 19 points in 37 games.

And, perhaps, Gurianov’s best trait is his willingness to learn.

“A lot of times (younger players) will just filter into a drill and when they make a mistake you have to correct it,” Laxdal said. “The fact that he has enough security to say ‘what are we doing here?’ and the trust that I’m not going to get mad at him for asking a question. That says a lot to the coaches and his teammates.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Bohls: Near end of his career, Ginobili is more heart than spare part
Bohls: Near end of his career, Ginobili is more heart than spare part

The tributes came pouring in, unsolicited but totally accurate. Pau Gasol spoke of his teammate’s “intensity and willingness to sacrifice his body.” Kawhi Leonard raved about his friend’s “competitive nature.” Patty Mills? He referred to the “grandpa juice” that his elderly teammate brings to the floor...
NFL draft capsules for NFC teams 
NFL draft capsules for NFC teams 

LAST SEASON: 49ers tied franchise record for losses, leading to organizational overhaul. Longtime GM Trent Baalke was fired, along with first-year coach Chip Kelly, and replaced by first-time GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Team struggled just about everywhere in 2016. Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick failed to provide strong quarterback play...
Distracting or dirty, NHL agitators can provide spark in playoffs
Distracting or dirty, NHL agitators can provide spark in playoffs

Late in the second period of a scoreless Game 3 of his first-round playoff series at Madison Square Garden, Montreal Canadiens forward Steve Ott went to work. With New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello hovering around Montreal goaltender Carey Price, Ott stepped in front of Zuccarello and without warning began tousling his long locks. Zuccarello...
The NFL draft's fastest rising QB chose football over baseball
The NFL draft's fastest rising QB chose football over baseball

At some point in the NFL draft, probably in Thursday night's first round, a team will formalize an improbable outcome and select Patrick Mahomes II. The improbability would not stem from Mahomes reaching the highest level of football. He posted astonishing statistics at Texas Tech, got all As in high school, stands a sturdy 6-foot-3 and possesses enough...
NFL draft capsules for AFC teams 
NFL draft capsules for AFC teams 

LAST SEASON: Following 0-14 start under first-year coach Hue Jackson, Browns barely avoided becoming only second team to lose all 16 games. Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam vowed to be patient with new front office and coaching staff and were mostly true to word as team underwent minimal offseason changes. Cleveland's biggest issue remains as it has been...
More Stories