Beer and shots: Sergei Varlamov’s deadly combination

If only half of what Colorado Avalanche goaltender Sergei Varlamov’s girlfriend (one assumes she’s now his former girlfriend, but who knows) had to say is true, the guy should land behind bars for the six years that the U.S. law allows.

Evgeniya Vavrinyuk spoke to the Denver Post newspaper. A video recording of her story (you can watch it here:, with translation from Russian to English, appeared on the newspaper’s site the other day.

Vavrinyuk told the paper her version of what happened on that night that ended with Varlamov arrested on domestic violence charge, spending one night in a police cell, only to be released the next day on a $5,000 bail.

It’s not too pretty.

In fact, it’s perfectly ugly.

According to Vavrinyuk, Sergei Varlamov got drunk beyond description, whereupon he proceeded to assault her physically, causing her what is known in police jargon and legal circles as bodily harm. It was not the very first time he would do so, Vavrinyuk told the Denver Post. When it happened in Russia during the lockout, she would report the incident to local police at Yaroslavl but nothing would happen: Sergei Varlamov was (still is), after all, a famous hockey player, a celebrity. Vavrinyuk’s complaint was ignored.

She found that matters were somewhat different in North America: women have their rights and authorities have no difficulty with defending them, no matter whatever social status enjoyed by the perpetrator.

In fact, what happened in Mother Russia once the report of Varlamov’s arrest in Denver was made public there confirmed the well-known generalizations about Russians, especially their males, and sports fans in particular. Vavrinyuk received numerous personal threats, her family members were harassed, too, and she fears that a return home would cause her even more grief than what Varlamov had inflicted upon her.

Vavrinyuk told the Denver Post she is not (and never has been) after Varlamov’s money. After all, she worked as a model in Hong Kong and earned enough to sustain herself. She broke her deal in Hong Kong about a year ago because Varlamov insisted that she join him in Denver.

Whether she is or is not after his money is perfectly irrelevant at the moment, but her statement isn’t. If it happens that the whole thing comes to trial and she changes her mind, Varlamov’s lawyers would, perfectly logically, confront her with her statement made in the Denver Post interview. That might carry the day so far as this part of the matter is concerned. Then again, it might not, but it would quite ridiculously complicate the affair.

This is not to say that each and every Russian guy there is drinks too much for his own good and can’t hold his booze too well, to boot. This is not to say, either, that each and every Russian guy is a bully and a dirty male chauvinist pig. There must be (and, one hopes, there are) exceptions. But the legend is too convincing. And, by the way, so are this author’s personal experiences from Russia and with the Russians.

The Avalanche are, of course, perfectly correct when they wouldn’t hesitate to start Varlamov in their nets. Unless and until he’s legally convicted, he’s as innocent as freshly fallen snow. If his goaltending form remains where it’s been the last few weeks, good for the team. Besides, a professional sports team doesn’t exist to judge anybody’s personal character. A professional sports team is here to win and, by extension, make its owners some spending cash.

The picture would change altogether if the paying public turned against Varlamov and, by extension, against the Avalanche paying the goalie and casting a blind eye on his alleged (still alleged, not proven, at this time) shenanigans. Were that to happen, the club might end up running away from the black eye a.k.a. Sergei Varlamov, going faster than speed of light.

If, by the way, the latter were to happen and Varlamov were to be found innocent in court, after all, even if it were to be on a technicality, he would be able to mulct the club in heavy damages. That’s something Avalanche’s lawyers must have taken into consideration, too.

In any case, the Avalanche must have got used to such kind of spotlight by now: its coach, Patrick Roy, was in a similar predicament some time ago when, still the club’s goalie, he got into trouble over domestic violence, too.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Quite a few people keep asking: well, if Sergei Varlamov was such a bully and girlfriend-beater, why did Evgeniya Vavrinyuk stay with him so long? They knew each other for four years, after all, and were partners for about a year.

Any psychologist worth her or his salt knows the answer. There are people (mostly women) whom the psychologists consider to be worthy of the title of Good Samaritans. Why it is mostly women, nobody knows for sure; some say it’s the good old maternal instincts, other just satisfy themselves with knowing that that’s how it is. In any case, it is mostly women who accept hard-drinking, abusive men, saying to themselves it must have been his former girlfriend or wife or parents, or whoever else, who had made him do it, but now that he’s met me, he’s going to change, I’ll teach him to mend his ways, and so on, fill in whatever other such and similar shortsighted and stupid expressions you can think of.

It’s the same with that good, old (and stupid) pick-up phrase: You know, you’re so different, my wife, she just doesn’t understand me – the percentage of women who end up spending years with psychologists trying to help them get out of the breakups is simply shocking.

This, in any case, would go a long way to explain Evgeniya Vavrinyuk’s behaviour.

And what if Sergei Varlamov sees the writing on the wall after his lawyer has whispered in his ear it seems he’s going to get at least four years behind bars, if not the maximum six years? What if he goes for it, leaves the courtroom before the judge returned with her or his sentence, makes straight for the Denver International Airport, and next thing we know he’s back in Yaroslavl, telling the club there they need a good goalie?

Modern electronic communications are faster than the fastest airplane. Before he landed in Russia, a note would have been sent from the Denver court to whatever authorities, the NHL head office being one of them. A copy of the note would make its way to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s head office in Zurich, Switzerland, whence they would go with that same speed to Moscow: Sergei Varlamov is a fugitive and, as such, he’s not allowed to be employed by any hockey club within the IIHF jurisdiction. Certainly, the KHL would say it’s not bound by any such nonsense issued by those guys in Switzerland. But the Russian hockey federation that is an IIHF member would be bound by IIHF’s refusal to issue a transfer card for Varlamov. As a result, Varlamov would be also banned from coming close to the Team Russia training camp before the Sochi Olympics in February 2014.

This, of course, would confirm what several high-ranking Russian hockey people had been saying all along: the Varlamov case is a plot, a conspiracy, to deny Mother Russia the services of its best goaltender in an attempt to make sure Mother Russia doesn’t win the gold medal it so richly deserves at the Sochi Olympics.

Crazy? Not one bit. The country’s president, Vladimir Putin, is a former high-ranking KGB (Soviet-era state security and espionage service) officer, and many of those now serving within all kinds of Russian organizations, have been serving the KGB in one major capacity or another, too. And if anybody knows a thing or two about plots and conspiracies, it would be the good old KGB.

We’re getting into the high-wire balancing act of international politics here. And all that because one goalie drinks too much, can’t hold his liqueur, and ends up beating up his girlfriend.

And a brief note as an observation for those not fluent in the Russian language: the translation below the video, while not a literary gem and/or proof of the actual interpreter’s abilities, is correct and doesn’t miss anything.

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