Vladimir Buchelnikov was a professional netminder in the Russian second and third divisions for over a decade. He saw most of his playing days stopping pucks for Sputnik Nizhny Tagil.
While his father suited up in goalie gear, Dmitri is focusing his hockey ability on undressing goaltenders. It was his combination of puck skills and finishing touch that was leading the Red Wings to make Buchelnikov the 52nd overall selection of the 2022 NHL entry draft.
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Still, that doesn’t mean his dad isn’t serving as an inspiration as the younger Buchelnikov is chasing the elusive dream of playing in the NHL.
“I saw how dad trains hard, plays,” Buchelnikov told KHL.ru. “I watched and rejoiced. Probably, it was a foregone conclusion before my birth.”
He credits his extended family for the tremendous support they’ve been offering him throughout his hockey journey.
“My dad helped me from a coach’s point of view, and my mom found the right words and supported me emotionally,” Buchelnikov said. “My grandparents would come to other cities to cheer me on.
“I also have a sister who is 10 years older, and we communicate very well. The support of my whole family is valuable.”
Buchelnikov Exposed To Hockey Life At Young Age
As a youngster, Buchelnikov would tag along with his dad on his daily trips to the rink for practices and games. Evidently, the love of hockey life was quick to rub off on the lad.
“To some extent, it helped him,” Vladimir explained to KHL.ru. )He went to these trainings from an early age, quite a lot, saw what we were working on. He looked closely, and listened.”
These days, Vladimir is seving as goalie coach for SKA-1946 in the MHL, the Russian second division. It was this club which Dmitri was playing 13 games during the 2022-23 campaign. He also won a Kharlamov Cup title as league champions with SKA-1946 during the 2021-22 season.
However, Vladimir insists the interactions between him and his son during this time period were more on a father-son basis than as a coach-player relationship.
“I advise him as a father, not as a coach,” Vladimir explained. “Everyone must do their job. I coach goalkeepers and it would be wrong if I advised how to play hockey.
“The advice is more about the fact that you need to work hard, listen to the coach, complete the coaching tasks.”
Buchelnikov also saw 10 games of playing time with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL, collecting a goal and an assist. During the spring, there was speculation that SKA would be loaning Buchelnikov to another KHL club. Thus far, that hasn’t happened.
He signed a three-year contract with SKA last season and Buchelnikov is matter of fact about what it’s going to take for him to make the grade as an elite professional player.
“Plans are plans, but we must act,” Buchelnikov said. “Live for today, work hard. Only through hard work can one reach the top.”