Former Washington Capitals prospect Stan Galiev left his home in Russia for North America at the early age of 16. After playing three seasons in the Quebec junior league under the guidance of former Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant, Galiev was drafted by the Capitals in the second round of the 2010 draft. Galiev spent the better part of five seasons trying to land a regular spot on the Capitals, but it wasn’t to be. In 2017, he returned to Russia.
Galiev recorded 21 goals and 19 assists in 56 games with the Hershey Bears during his final season in the Capitals organization, but he has also done fairly well back home in the KHL, including winning the Gagarin Cup with Ak Bars his first year back.
But Galiev still remains very close with the Capitals Russian players.
“I constantly communicate with Dmitry (Orlov) and Evgeny (Kuznetsov’s). Evgeny’s wife is the godmother of my child. So our relationship is very close, we are constantly on the phone with them.”
In fact, five years removed from the NHL, Galiev still closely follows the Capitals every move.
“To be honest, I follow their every game, I watch every review. I’m worried about the guys. There are a lot of friends left there,” Galiev told Championat.
Galiev left for America at 16 because he felt that the North American style of game best suited his style of play. But he doesn’t regret his decision to return to Russia.
”I do not regret at all that I left in due time. It was insanely hard to get hold of something.”
Many have surmised that Galiev’s inability to secure a roster spot with the Capitals was just a matter of bad timing, but Galiev feels he didn’t make the most of his opportunity.
“I didn’t take the chance. I think everything was fine with the development. The general manager changed and four coaches changed. Time passed and something changed. I did not use this chance, although I was given it.”
In his final season in North America, Galiev’s agent requested a trade from the Capitals, but nothing could be finalized. Russia and the KHL was the next best move.
“My agent asked for a trade, but it didn’t work out. I was sent to the farm club (Hershey), I played there the last season in North America, and during that time I decided that I wanted to try myself in Russia.”
Galiev has no grudge against Washington. “I am grateful that I was given a chance and I felt the atmosphere, met such legendary players.”
Galiev learned a lot about the North American game.
“They pay attention to every nuance. You are constantly shown videos, they are constantly studying with you. The training process creates playing conditions: you go out on the ice for 20-30 minutes, but each exercise lasts 2-2.5 minutes intensively, everything is very fast. In the games, there is struggle everywhere, high speeds. That’s why it is the best league – the best players are gathered there. Everyone dreams of being there and you just need to feel it – it’s hard to describe in words.”
Galiev has not thought about returning to North America. “I don’t think about it. I live in the real world. You need to get better to leave. I am no longer 20 years old, and the young people there are insanely strong.”
Galiev became a champion in the USHL, QMJHL, and ECHL while in North America and won the Gagarin Cup his first year back in Russia, but he is quick to point out the one that got away.
“It’s even funnier that Washington immediately took the Stanley Cup as soon as I left (laughs). It’s just a coincidence. It’s just funny. I was glad for myself that I won the Gagarin Cup at Ak Bars, and for my friends from Washington, who had been waiting for the (Stanley Cup) for a long time.
By Jon Sorensen