Dmitri Yushkevich

Dmitri Yushkevich was a solid NHL defenseman for over a decade. He continued his career with several seasons back home in Russia, as well.

Yusekvich was trained in Russia in the dying days of the great Soviet hockey empire. Yet he was not a classic Russian defenseman in that he was not a great skater. He was neither speedy or particularly agile. But he was very heady, and could surprise many forecheckers with a smart pass or a deft carry of the puck to make a quick transition from defense to offense. His on-ice smarts were matched by his very good puck handling. These skills plus a heavy shot made allowed him to play regularly on the power play even though h e was not a classic PP quarterback by any stretch.

Defensively he was fit and compact, making him a physical defender. He played the game with a bit of a mean streak, making him far from easy to play against. He struggled with consistency over the course of his career, but then again many defensemen do. He was never an elite player, but rather a solid support player. He was quite adept at blocking shots.

Drafted by Philadelphia, Yushkevich is best known as a Toronto Maple Leaf where he thrived under Pat Quinn. He also played briefly with Florida and Los Angeles. Internationally he was a regular with Team Russia, winning Olympic gold in 1992 and silver in 1998. He also played in 4 world championships (winning gold in 1993), 3 world juniors (winning gold in 1989) and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Yushkevich returned to Russia to play starting in 2003. Perhaps his relatively early exit from the NHL had something to do with blood clotting problems scaring off NHL teams. He returned to Russia, where he found the transition from the NHL more difficult than when he left home for North America over a decade earlier.

Yushkevich continued to play through the 2010 season, briefly retiring to take care of his three children after the tragic death of their mother in 2008. She died in California, reportedly from a liver disease.


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