breaking news

GREG KELLEY CASE: Texas Ranger affidavit contradicts Kelley statements

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

WATCH: Snoop Dogg rocks the new Texas A&M jersey

Will we see Snoop Dogg whooping it up with the 12th Man soon? It could happen after the legendary rapper posted a video of him rocking the new Texas A&M football jerseys that were released by Adidas on Thursday. Why Snoop is celebrating the jersey or his connection to Texas A&M is unclear, but this can’t do anything...
LOOK: Adidas reveals new Texas A&M uniforms for upcoming season

Earlier this week, Adidas teased a new Texas A&M uniform this season. On Thursday, it was revealed. Adidas posted on Instagram a short video featuring a new maroon uniform combination for the Aggies to wear this season. The jersey looks quite different from other A&M ones, as a pattern is featured over the maroon background...
On Second Thought Ep 67: Houston coach Major Applewhite on replacing Tom Herman; Texas’ concerns at LB
On Second Thought Ep 67: Houston coach Major Applewhite on replacing Tom Herman; Texas’ concerns at LB

In Episode 67 of the On Second Thought podcast, new Houston head coach Major Applewhite discusses the challenge that comes with following in Tom Herman’s footsteps. Ced and Kirk and Kirk also examine the similarities between Applewhite and Herman and break down Herman’s concerns at linebacker. Also, the Dallas Cowboys&rsquo...
Triplets of the Big 12: Kansas State
Triplets of the Big 12: Kansas State

We’re taking a tour of the top quarterback, running back and wide receiver of each Big 12 team. Today’s triplets: Kansas State. (We’ve already done Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas.) QB: Jessie Ertz (2016 — 152 of 264 for 1,755 yards, 9 TDs and 4 INTs, plus 1,012 rushing yards and 12 rushing...
Daily Longhorn football history: The 2000 season
Daily Longhorn football history: The 2000 season

The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season.  University of Texas’ Longhorns #1, Chris Simms, passes against the Texas A&M’s during first quarter of action on Friday, November...
More Stories