When the Montreal Canadiens selected Mikhail Grabovski 150th overall in 2004, he was just the 16th Belarusian to be drafted into the NHL. In either draft surrounding the 2004 Entry draft, the Canadiens selected a Kostitsyn brother, also from Belarus. These three players had careers that intertwined on multiple occasions, writing the biggest hockey story for their country at the time.
Grabovski and Andrei Kostitsyn were teammates in both Montreal and Hamilton (AHL) for the first two years of their career, and Sergei Kostitsyn joined them in the 2nd. Following that, Grabovski was traded to Toronto for Greg Pateryn and a 2nd round pick. ‘Grabo’ flourished in his first season as a Leaf, with 20 goals and 48 points.
It was also in his first season as a Leaf that Grabo would become re-acquainted with the Kostitsyn brothers. On one occasion he was toppled by a linesman while attempting to get to Sergei, and on another Sergei took a 10 minute misconduct for charging Grabovski. The incident with the linesmen landed Grabovski a 3 game suspension, further stoking the flames between countrymen.
Eventually they would all have to play nice for the sake of their national team, but it was not the last time …
Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation