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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vorobiev: Blackhawks Biased Against Russians

APPavel Vorobiev
Chicago Blackhawks forward Pavel Vorobiev has accused his NHL club of bias against Russian players.

"In America, they don't like the Russians, often hate us, and Chicago is the worst club of all," the 24-year-old right wing was quoted as saying in Saturday's Sport-Express newspaper.

"When 11 Russian players showed up at Chicago's preseason training camp last year, everyone there was in shock," he said.

"When I was leading the team in scoring at the start of last season it was irritating a lot of people in our club.

"They just couldn't take that a Russian would be the best. For Americans such a thing would be absolutely unacceptable."

After spending three years in North America, Vorobiev decided to return to Russia, signing a one-year deal with Superleague club Khimki, although the Blackhawks still retain his NHL rights.

Vorobiev, Chicago's No. 1 pick in 2000, said even All-Star NHL goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin was struggling to adapt to the Blackhawks after joining from the Tampa Bay Lightning last August.

"Khabibulin was trying his best but he told me that last season was probably his worst," Vorobiev said. "It wasn't his fault, because the team didn't play well in front of him."

After scoring just once in 18 games in the 2003-04 season, his first in the NHL, Vorobiev scored nine goals and added 12 assists in 39 games for the Blackhawks in the 2005-06 season.

The 2004-05 NHL season was lost because of a labor dispute.

The Kazakhstan-born winger said he had a good relationship with head coach Trent Yawney but it didn't help his cause.

"He (Yawney) was under pressure from the management, and the general manager and team owners decide almost everything at the club," said Vorobiev.

"I was getting just five minutes of ice time on the fourth line and never had a chance to play on a powerplay," he added. "When our results went down, the coach started picking on the players. And of course, Vorobiev was always the worst culprit."

Vorobiev said he still hopes to play in the NHL: "I'm just hoping they [Chicago] will trade me to any other NHL team."