Vladimir Tsyplakov

Vladimir Tsyplakov was a lanky Belorussian who had his National Hockey League career cut short due to a serious knee injury.

A scoring star with Dynamo Minsk, Tsyplakov took the bold step of bolting to North America without a NHL contract. In fact the left winger was only drafted after playing in 3 North American minor professional seasons. The Los Angeles Kings drafted the IHL scoring start 59th overall in 1995.

If the Kings were looking for immediate help, they found it. By 1996-97 Tsyplakov was a regular in the Kings lineup and on the penalty kill.  He earned a reputation as a solid playmaker as well.

1997-98 was his best NHL season. He scored career highs with 18 goals, 34 assists and 52 points. That was also the first year the NHL shutdown its' hectic schedule to allow players to go to the Olympics. Tsyplakov played for Belarus, describing the Nagano opportunity as a dream come true.

In January 2000, he joined the Buffalo Sabres. The coaching staff was very happy with Tsyplakov's addition as he proved to be a versatile forward who could play in a number of key situations when called upon. He finished the year with 19 points and a plus 17 rating in just 34 games with the Sabres.

Just when all seemed well for the utility forward, a disastrous knee injury took away nearly half a season from Tsyplakov in 2000-01. He returned after Christmas and found his game. He scored 14 points in 36 games and added a goal in 9 playoff contests.

The following season Tsyplakov opted to return home and play for Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian High League. One major draw to returning home was the opportunity to return to the Olympics. Because the NHL only shut down their schedule for only a set number of games, nations like Belarus could not necessarily count on their few NHL players being eligible during the Olympic qualifying rounds. Tsyplakov wanted to not just return to the Olympics, but help his nation qualify to compete for a medal. Not only did Belarus qualify, but this time Tsyplakov's team pulled off one of the biggest upsets in international hockey history as Belarus knocked off heavily favoured Sweden.

Tsyplakov remained active in Russia through the end of the 2004 season.


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