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FEATURE: Kurashev embraces unique background

Multicultural center Philipp Kurashev is Blackhawks Development Camp's most interesting man

by Chris Wescott / chicagoblackhawks.com

Selected in the fourth round, 120th overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2018 NHL Draft, was Philipp Kurashev...

He wasn't at the draft in Dallas, so not much was known about him other than his intriguing background.

And now, he's Blackhawks Development Camp's most interesting man in the world.

His parents are Russian, he was born in Switzerland and he now plays hockey in Quebec. He's well-traveled, speaks multiple languages - oh, and he can play.

"He's an interesting one," Blackhawks Vice President of Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley said at the draft.

"Really smart, skilled centerman. He's also really strong on his skates."

"I'm a playmaker who likes to pass around the puck and contribute to the other players, and I have a good shot," Kurashev said.

Kurashev's father coached in Switzerland and thus he was born there, in Münsingen - a municipality nestled against the Aare river with a population hovering around 11,000.

Growing up with the multicultural experience afforded Kurashev an opportunity many other kids never receive.

"It's great. I know a lot of languages and whether I'm in Russia or Switzerland, I feel at home. All my family is from Russia, my dad was a hockey coach who started coaching in Switzerland. Me and my sister were born there, up in Switzerland."

Kurashev is a polyglot - a person who knows several languages. He says he speaks English, German, Russian and a little bit of French.

"Russia is my mother language and German because I grew up in Switzerland," he said. "English I had to learn too. French we learned in school and in Quebec, I have to take lessons there."

Hockey, not language, has always been his top passion. His father Konstantin has been a coach dating back to the late 90s and it's hard to imagine a different path for Philipp, given his upbringing.

"Of course, my dad played hockey and was a hockey coach always," he said. "My uncle played too and now he's a goalie coach. I was always at the rink when I was young and hockey has been with me all my life.

"I didn't know anything else."

And now Kurashev is carving out his own path through the sport, a path that led him to Canada.

The center left his homeland to play for the Quebec Remparts in 2016, after being selected in the first round of the CHL Import Draft. He scored 21 goals as a rookie, good for eighth in the QMJHL. The league leader among rookies that year was another Swiss-born player by the name of Nico Hischier, New Jersey's first-overall pick in 2017.

The two players are bright pieces of Swiss Hockey's future. Kurashev is proud to have represented the Swiss flag at both the U-18s and World Juniors. He sees the program growing and developing.

Look no further than the Swiss team's silver medal finish at this summer's IIHF World Championships in Denmark.

"I feel like, and everyone sees it, that Swiss hockey is getting better every year," Kurashev said. "My hope is that it keeps improving."

Kurashev wants to be a key piece to that future.

"I will try my best and I hope they will choose me to represent their country," he said, "It's always a huge honor."

Coming off a 19-goal, 60-point sophomore campaign for the Remparts, the Blackhawks are hoping for a big season from Kurashev.

"We think he's better acclimated and expect him to have a real good year this year coming back," said Kelley.

For Kurashev, he's just excited to continue his hockey journey as an official member of the Blackhawks system.

"It was always a dream of mine my whole life," he said. "Every hockey player has that dream. I got the chance to get drafted, so it was an unbelievable feeling."

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