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Puck-Estroika

Updated: February 19, 2003, 1:46 PM ET
By By Tim Struby, ESPN The Magazine
German Titov is sucking wind and eyeballing his former Soviet comrades with something less than brotherly love. Here at the practice rink at Disney Ice, the 37-year-old left wing is struggling to keep his job with the Mighty Ducks. Meanwhile three prospects and two hard-knocking defensemen, all of whom are countrymen, seem to be closer to a roster spot. So you'll forgive Titov if he's a bit crotchety, even a little jealous. "I come to NHL when I was 28," he says. "Too old to change. On my first team, Calgary-no Russians. Guys try to help, but tough for me. Young Russian guys in the league, they have a different mentality."

Gone are those chilly post-Cold War days when stoic Soviet players clung to each other and the culture of the Motherland. The new generationweaned on Game Boy, The Sopranos and Cokeare as competitive with one another as they once were with the rest of the NHL.

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