WINNIPEG – Imagine for a second how Ilya Mikheyev must have felt.
The sheer panic and horror associated with an artery and tendons in your right wrist cut by a skate blade. But also the fear and loneliness that would arise after an operation if you woke up in the hospital in a foreign country several thousand kilometers from your closest family and friends.
That's why Mikheyev's camp is so grateful for the way Kyle Dubas, general manager of Toronto Maple Leafs, dealt with his freak accident in New Jersey last Friday night. Dubas went to great lengths to ensure that Mikheyev felt as comfortable as possible from leaving the Prudential Center in an ambulance until he returned to Toronto on Monday afternoon.
"Kyle has exceeded his duty," said Dan Milstein, the player's agent, in an interview with Sportsnet.
According to Milstein, he not only spent most of the three days accompanying him in the hospital, but also personally bought him clothing and other personal items.
When asked why he wanted to stay with the player, Dubas attributed the idea to his wife Shannon. They spoke after Friday's incident, in which Mikheyev lost an alarming amount of blood after being cut by Jesper Bratt's skate, and Dubas & # 39; wife pointed out that if the roles were reversed, her son would be in Russia would like to go through something similar, every assurance that he is properly cared for.
Leafs GM’s second year awareness campaign canceled, cleared his calendar, and joined assistant sports coach Jon Geller at the New Jersey hospital two nights after Christmas.
When Mikheyev came out of the operation and rested a little, they filled the hours with watching sports together. These included Russia's 6-0 win over Canada at the World Junior tournament and the Leafs 5-4 extra time against the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
Dubas said that they have probably seen more football than hockey.
Mikheyev is still comfortable with the English language – he understands more than he can speak – and started to gain a foothold in the middle of his first NHL season. He was in the top six with John Tavares in this New Jersey game, scoring his eighth goal and 23rd point before his night ended abruptly.
According to Milstein, the 25-year-old is now pain-free and in a remarkably good mood, despite a strict 90-day recovery phase in which he is not allowed to exert any pressure on the right hand while the tendons are healing. This prevents him from grabbing a stick or shooting a puck by the end of March.
"I could imagine that you would see him on the ice on the 91st (day)," said Milstein.
The parents Natalia and Andrey join him in Toronto, who came on Sunday for a three-week visit and wanted to watch him play an NHL live game for the first time. His girlfriend Kristina has also returned from Russia after being there on vacation.
Mikheyev was returned to her care on Monday after he was released from the hospital and flown back with Dubas and Geller. The Leafs maintained regular communication with the family throughout the operation and during the period that followed.
It was a happy homecoming for the man who was fondly referred to by fans as "Soup" or "Souperman" for having had an interview earlier this season saying that this was what he missed most at home. His NHL experience was overwhelmingly positive despite the challenges ahead. He has also achieved cult status within the Leafs fan community.
"He's still in Pinch-Me mode," said Milstein. "He loves it, he enjoys every moment. He feels that Toronto is his second home."
Happy New Year my friends !!! I hope 2020 will bring you happiness, prosperity and good health! I thank you all for all the best and wish you every success! pic.twitter.com/m4sLBDRLp0
– Ilya Mikheyev (@ Souperman65) December 31, 2019
The agent has KHL-free agents who are currently arousing considerable interest in NHL for the next season and has made them aware of the humanity that the Leafs have shown with Mikheyev and told them: "You should know how Toronto handled this particular accident. "
Milstein has a lot to do with the Leafs organization and comes from the time of Lou Lamoriello, who headed the front office.
He had clients Nikita Zaitsev and Igor Ozhiganov leave KHL to sign in Toronto, negotiated a seven-year extension for Zaitsev with Lamoriello, and saw Dubas honored in July last year for the player's later trade application by handed it over to Ottawa.
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What Milstein values most about doing business with them is their personal touch. Leafs have Jim Paliafito, Senior Director of Player Evaluation, in Russia all year round and work together to build relationships with players and their families through several personal visits.
The way Dubas dealt with Mikheyev took it to another level.
"I said this a long time ago: The Maple Leafs as an organization recruit almost like college recruits," said Milstein. "Many (other) teams would say:" Yes, they can afford it. "
"Caring for someone and treating people in this way does not cost money. It is much more than money if you show support and show that you take care of it."