The Montreal Canadiens erasing a five-goal deficit against the New York Rangers this year? Or how about the Los Angeles Kings coming back from four-nothing against the Dallas Stars?
These are great comeback victories, but are not exactly what I'm writing about today. You know when you see a player at the low-point of his career? Every time he touches the puck, it just seems to create a disaster. Well, for me, there's no better comeback than watching that player make a triumphant return and get his A-game back.
The most recent example of this that I've noticed is Sergei Samsonov. He was drafted eighth overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. As we all know I'm sure, Joe Thornton was picked first overall by the Bruins in the same draft, but it was Samsonov who won the Calder Memorial Trophy that year.
Translation: Nothing but great things were expected from the young Russian. He continued to play relatively well until he joined Montreal in 2006-2007 with a two-year contract worth $7.05 million. It was a disappointment to say the least. Samsonov totaled 26 points (9g, 17a) in 63 games for the Canadiens.
A goal for every $500, 000 just isn't going to cut it. The beginning of this season saw him join the Chicago Blackhawks, but Chi Town was just as tough on him as Montreal. Four assists in 23 games saw that move fail.
I recall one game in which he had the puck and cut to the middle of the ice. He got around the defenseman, got the goalie down, and went for the wrap-around into the empty net. It looked like it was going to be a highlight reel goal, but the defenseman stopped the puck with his stick.
That just summed up the way things were going for Samsonov. In January of this year, he was claimed off re-entry waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes. Head coach Peter Laviolette did what the other coaches failed to do—get him involved right away.
Samsonov was put on the first powerplay unit, and started producing. With each point he got, more confidence began to return, and Sergei finally began looking like the great player he was in Boston. He finished the season with 32 points (14g, 18a) in 38 games with the Hurricanes.
Having signed a contract to stay with Carolina until 2010, things certainly seem to look good again for Samsonov. Comebacks like these are more important to me than a game in which one team storms back after falling behind early.
Not just in hockey, but any sport for that matter. I simply chose hockey as the focus point because I follow it the most. This season we might see guys like Kyle Wellwood, Maxim Afinogenov, or Sheldon Souray do the same.
I hope they do, because there's nothing better than seeing an athlete get back on his feet after a tough year or two. Those are the greatest comebacks to see in hockey or in any sport.
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