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He's a force, I tell you!
-Senators GM John Muckler

Ottawa Senators Defenceman Anton Volchenkov is known primarily to National Hockey League fans for his talent of inflicting brutal hits on opposing players. The 6'1", 225 pound Volchenkov was born in Kazan, Russia, on February 25, 1982. Drafted in the first round by the Senators in 2000, Volchenkov unexpectedly made the club's roster for the 2002-2003 season after an impressive training camp (legend has it that one of his training camp victims actually had to be carried off unconscious on a stretcher).

Prior to the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Senators scouts apparently went off to Russia surveying young hockey players about who they would choose, given the opportunity to draft their own teams. Surprisingly, the large majority of the players did not name themselves, but instead replied that they would select Anton Volchenkov. Needless to say, when the 21st selection came around and Volchenkov remained on the board, then-Senators GM Marshall Johnston quickly snapped him up. Volchenkov still plays for Ottawa and wears jersey number 24.

A product of the CSKA (Central Sport Club of the Red Army) system, Anton was born into a hockey family and learned to love the game while very young. His father, Alexei Volchenkov, had been a famous defenseman for the CSKA in the 1970s and 1980s, while his mother Valentina had already assumed the role of chauffeur, driving Anton's older brother to his own hockey practises. His older brother was also a hockey enthusiast, although he currently works as a masseuse after his hockey career didn't pan out.

Young Anton began attending the CKSA hockey school in Moscow at six years of age, hoping to eventually become a successful goaltender. His coach, Yuri Chabarin, had other ideas, and insisted that Volchenkov was better suited to playing defense. Volchenkov continued in the CSKA system (excluding the year his family lived in the Ukraine when Anton was 10), playing on both their junior and senior teams.

As a defenceman for HK Moskva (which translates to the CSKA Penguins), Volchenkov played under the infamous Russian National Team Coach Viktor Tikhonov (Tikhonov once punched the Toronto Maple Leafs' Alexander Mogilny, leading to the refusal of several prominent Russian players to play under him).

Following his 1999-2000 season, Volchenkov was drafted by the Senators, although he opted to remain in Russia and play for the Soviet Wings. In 34 games with the Wings, Volchenkov registered a +/- rating of +22. He also represented silver-medalist Russia at the prestigious World Junior Under 18 Championships, notching an assist and a +/- rating of +11 in six games.

Although Volchenkov was unable to attend the World Junior Championships in Slovakia the following year due to injuries, he played on the Russian National Team at the 2001 Under 20 World Junior Championships, and recorded 4 assists.

After earning a roster spot with the Senators (who finished their season by winning the President's Trophy for the league's best record), it seemed inevitable that the 21 year old rookie would eventually be sent down to the Senators' minor-league affiliate in Binghamton. Fortunately for Volchenkov, this never happened, and defenceman Joel Kwiatkowski was sent to Washington in order to make room for Volchenkov and his crushing hits on the Senators' blue line.

And then there was Anton Volchenkov. People in these parts thought this week's snowstorm hit hard until the A-Train came to town.
-sportswriter Don Brennan

During the 2003 All-Star break, Volchenkov was selected to the Eastern Conference Young Stars team, where he scored a goal in an Eastern Conference victory. Although his English is still somewhat lacking, Volchenkov has made it crystal clear through his on-ice dominance that he is destined for a stellar career in the NHL.


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