“Hey, Y/N, can I talk with you a moment?” Colossus asked, sounding a little nervous.
You looked up at him. “Yeah, sure, what’s up?”
He waited until the last person in the room left before speaking again. “We’ve known each other for a while now, and for just as long, I’ve…” he started, struggling to find the right words. “Sorry, I should’ve rehearsed what I wanted to say.”
“No, it’s fine,” you told him, putting your hand on his arm reassuringly. “Take your time.” You knew English was his second language, so you understood how hard it was to find the right words sometimes.
“I’ve found that I have really come to care about you, possibly to the point of ya tebya lyublyu,” he said, slipping into Russian.
You just looked at him, confused. You know he just said that he loves you, but he doesn’t know that you know Russian. So you decided to play dumb and see how he acts.
Piotr blushed, a hand coming up to rub the back of his neck. “I just slipped into Russian, didn’t I?” he asked bashfully.
“Yep, you did,” you said with a nod.
“Sorry, I just kinda got lost. Lost in the words or your eyes or-“
You cut him off by giving him a kiss, going up on your tip-toes to reach and putting your arm on his shoulder for balance. He wrapped his arms around you, his embrace feeling strong and protective.
After a moment, you pulled out of the kiss. “I love you, too,” you admitted.
A thing I’ve heard before, phrased in several different ways, is “You can’t expect the whole world to change itself for you.” And yes, it has been used in reference to me being Autistic and asking for accommodations, or complaining about the way I and other Autistic people are treated.
It’s just so laughably hypocritical and ignorant that I can’t even respond to it coherently, in a verbal setting. Because the people that say that don’t even realize what they’re saying.
I ask for accommodations, from a group of people, and they only need to accommodate me (and of course other people who need accommodations) in whatever activity I’m going to be engaging in with them. It’s miniscule.
When they’re done with the activity and we all leave, they can go home and not think twice about it. They can go hang out with their friends and not worry about how they behave or what they do. They can go to a mall or some other public place and not think about accommodating anybody. They don’t have to alter anything about themselves, or worry about how each and every person is going to react to them doing this or that. At the end of the day, all they have to do is accommodate me and the other people who need accommodations, it’s a microscopic adjustment.
But I have to accommodate EVERYBODY in my life. I mean everyone. My family, my friends, my instructors, random people I bump into in a store, pedestrians watching me cross a street, my own therapist and psychiatrist. I am constantly having to monitor what I say, my body language, my tone of voice, my facial expressions, my posture, what my hands/legs/feet are doing.
Because I was taught from the time I was old enough to have my face shoved into the sidewalk, to have my fingers slammed in windows, to be yelled at, to be made fun of, to be punished, that my natural mannerisms are bad. That they are ugly. That no one will understand me if I don’t learn to act and communicate exactly like they do. That the world won’t change for people like me, and that it’s selfish to ask.
I was traumatized by people that had mindsets like that. I remember so many interactions where it’s the same thing over and over. That I’m entitled, that I can’t just expect people to change everything for me, that I’m not that special, that if it seems like everyone else has a problem then maybe I need to look at myself more closely, that I won’t survive in the real world. Over and over.
And it’s just hilarious that people are so ignorant, so self-centered that it doesn’t even cross their minds the things I’ve had to do, the ways I’ve had to mutilate myself, just to be heard. Just to avoid being hurt, looked at the wrong way, mocked. They didn’t have to be taught that.
And still, when I ask for accommodations, it’s like playing Russian roulette. I never know how the other person is going to react. I never know I’m going to be gaslighted yet again, if I’ll be taken advantage of again, if I’ll be yelled at or mocked again. I never know if I’m going to be trapped again.
But people still tell me, and people like me, that we’re the selfish ones to expect the world to change for us? We’re asking individuals to accommodate us in their workplaces, schools, public activities; then those individuals can just move on. We’ve had to accommodate the whole world.
It means Victory: Nikita Kucherov lives up to the name, goes beyond the mark
Nikita is not Russian for Nicholas, it does mean Victory/Victorious
Killorn and Johnson were not wearing shirts, but they were listening to censored Drake
I was supposed to do this after Christmas, but he let me do it before. This was tuesday.
the quote came in a fax machine, I don’t know who said it, but I’d like to kick his ass.
“Though he has skill, he lacks dedication. He is
willing to wait for a shot, he is lazy, careless, and a novelty. A player
trying to play like Ovechkin but failing horribly. Riding the coattails of
former players and faltering on his own. A second round pick would be a
stretch.” –European Hockey League scout #124 post U18 Tournament (Released to
writer from a confidential source n/m not released)
Kucherov is a lot of things: he is a play maker, he is a sharpshooter, he is
reserved and concerned about his English. He is not the talkative player that
his centreman is, nor is he the quiet leader that his fellow winger is.
Kucherov is put perhaps best in the words of fellow forward Vladislav
Namestnikov; “Kuch is Russian”. Nikita Kucherov is not by any stretch of the
imagination anything less than a Hall of Famer in the making. Night in and
night out, Kucherov is moving up in the +/- standings, though some analysts
will tell you +/- and Corsi have fallen out of relevance in the last few years.
The thing Kucherov is perhaps most obviously is a beloved player, his name is
just as seen as Stamkos’s, Johnson’s, and Palat’s. Kucherov is not “Lazy”.
used to not talk. To me if I couldn’t say how [what] I wanted to say, I don’t
[didn’t] say it.” That is one of the first things he tells me. His voice is
softer than I expected to hear, he speaks quietly, as if I will chastise him
for improper grammar. He looks at me with blue eyes that are only enhanced by
the blue of the Tampa Bay Lightning long sleeve shirt he wears, the logo pulled
a little and stretched with love. In his hands he holds a nearly empty water
bottle, over his right shoulder sits a translator a few seats away, listening
just in case. There are a few times I ask him something that doesn’t translate
into Russian, that makes his eyebrows knit together as I try to find another
word for the one I was going to use. The humour I use sometimes doesn’t hit the
mark, but he smiles anyway when I do, maybe not truly understanding the joke
but understanding that I mean to ease the tension.
nervous. That is what I get when I first start talking to him, he’s nervous
that there is a language gap between us. When he introduces himself, his voice
and his hands shake a little, he looks around the conference room like it might
be a jail cell. I realize that this is not where Nikita Kucherov likes to be,
this is not his element. Having come back from a Pacific Division road trip
that resulted 2-1 (taking 4/6 possible points) against the Ducks, Sharks, and
Kings, he’s done his job. He’s been where he is most comfortable, in the
presence of his teammates and on the world’s stage playing in the NHL. He’s not
used to this, this room with its painted
walls. Overhead the fluorescent bulbs hum and the sun shines in over Garrison
Channel. He looks like a trapped deer. He rubs his hands on his shorts, the
fabric making a noise reminiscent of a faulty zipper as his calloused hands
catch synthetic fibres. He rolls his shoulders and watches me. He never stops
watching me as I set up my recorder, my back up battery, my notes and my pens.
The battery catches his attention: “What’s that?” “This [I gesture to the
battery]?” “Yes. What does it do? Why do you bring it here?” “It’s a backup battery
for my recorder.” I show him the light and the beep that signifies the device
being fully charged. He finds it interesting, it makes him smile as he looks at
it light up on different levels as he talks, then I, showing frequency.
is more patient than Pally. Pally was learning English too, so when I say
something he didn’t get, I say [it] to Johnny and he say to Pally. That’s how
it was.” While playing Slavic telephone seems like a fun idea for all, I asked
Johnson about Kucherov’s English “He is very shy about it. They both are, when
we first started playing together it was kind of hard, he didn’t want to say
more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’, sometimes I’d do something he didn’t like and he’d be
mad. He’d just glare at me from across the ice, or in the room. I was scared he’d
walk up behind me, or I’d have a horse head or something in my bed. That didn’t
last. (offside) Stop laughing, Killer, I’m being serious!” As I walked back to
the conference room and away from the sound of crashing weight plates and
laughter only broken up by “Horse head”,
I thought how concerning it must be to
not be able to tell someone what you really want to say. This has been an issue
in the NHL for as long as players have been coming from Russia and Eastern
you wish that the NHL taught players and journalists Russian?” I somewhat shock
Kucherov as he’s slipping his phone back into his pocket. “How you mean? Like
school? I know some, but I don’t speak it at home”. ‘Home’ to Kucherov is
Russia, more specifically the city of Maykop. When he was playing in the KHL,
he played in Moscow, in 2011 he was drafted in the second round by the Tampa
Bay Lightning. He was then sent to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
(QMJHL). The young Kucherov went from speaking primarily Russian, to a region
of Canada where the top language is, French. He was sent to the QMJHL to
transition to the style of North American hockey he’d play in the AHL and
eventually the NHL.
hockey is played on a bigger scale. In North America, a regulation rink is
200ft long by 85ft wide. An International Rink, like those used in the KHL is
200ft long by 100ft wide. I’ll save you the math, and tell you that is a 15ft
difference across. When you watch any NHL game, your announcer will tell you
that one of the keys to the game is a “North-South game”, up and down the ice
to reduce opposition scoring. It’s one of the main reasons your forwards play
such short shifts. If you’ve ever watched Pavel Datsyuk or Evgeni Malkin, or ‘The
Great Eight’ Alex Ovechkin, you’ll notice they like to move laterally. It’s
something that you have to know how to do, you cannot teach the Russian style
of play. Regardless of how many years Kucherov would spend in the Q, you cannot
stop playing like you were taught to.
point Kucherov is still looking at me like I just said “You and I are getting
married, we’re going to go to Mars and start the human race on a planet outside
of our own” So I rephrase my original question. “Yes, I kind of do. I have
people who can help me [he gestures to the translator who has been watching a
Brady press conference on his phone], I have Vladdy, we talk to each other, but
some don’t. It’s hard, the languages are different.” If you look at the numbers
of players in the League, you’ll notice that there are more and more European
players coming in year after year. Mostly they come from Russia, from Sweden,
the Czech Republic (It is not Czech-Slovakia, it hasn’t been for decades, stop
saying it), a select few from Finland, Switzerland, and smattering from Norway.
The names on the back of jerseys are becoming less ‘Crosby’, ‘Smith’, ‘Orr’, ‘Shanahan’,
‘Boyle’ and ‘Callahan’, and more ‘Panarin’, ‘Kuznetsov’, and ‘Tikhonov’. Gone are
the days of ‘John’, ‘Bobby’, ‘Steve’, and ‘Jack’, and here are the days of ‘Viktor’,
‘Artemi’, ‘Pavel’, ‘Nikita’, and ‘Alexander’. If we’re being serious, it’s ‘Aleksander’,
but that’s fine.
becoming better at saying names that would’ve stricken fear into the hearts of
our Grandparents years ago, but we’re not treating the players any better. The
players still have to rely on someone who might know the language they speak,
and given the spread of European players in the NHL, you don’t have to look
hard to find a ‘Henrik’ or a ‘Pavel’. Still, I am sitting here across from a
man who can’t say what he fully wants to say; someone representative of the
rest of the NHL in the last 20 years with the new class of players coming over
from Russia. He thinks a little more on the subject “Maybe if we taught you
some phrases you should know to make it a little bit easier for me.” If it
really only took a few phrases to learn to make it easier for your favourite
player to talk to reporters, wouldn’t you want them to do it?
turn to the impressive season Kucherov is having. I tell him how fantastic it
is to net your seventh and eighth goal of the season on the same night, and his
ears turn red. He looks down at the shiny table and I can see a smile spread
across his face. I decide to make matters worse and talk about the ASTOUNDING
turn around he made between the 2013-2014 season and the 2014-2015 season. In
the 2013-2014 season, Kucherov netted 9 goals and 9 assists in 52 games for 18
points. In the 2014-2015 season that culminated with an Eastern Conference
Championship and a run at the fabled Stanley Cup, Kucherov more than TRIPLED his
numbers scoring 29 goals, 36 assists for 65 points in 82 games. With his
numbers being mentioned, he looks towards the ceiling, smile now visible on his
face, eyes a little misty over his
breakout season, and says just loud enough to be heard, “it was a good season.”
good season’ is how the future looks for Kucherov, sitting right behind Steven
Stamkos with 17 points spread across 10 goals and 7 assists in 29 games. If this
is anything indicative of what the season with Kucherov in your canon looks
like, then I think that despite a disturbingly slow start, the Tampa Bay
Lightning are going to be okay. Kucherov follows me out of the conference room,
I shake his hand once more, his shake a little less, and as he passes the
weight room, Killorn and Johnson still inside, I can hear him ribbing his
teammates for not lifting the heavier weights. Maybe Kucherov is lazy, but it’s
not on the ice.