Detroit - August 8, 2014 - Alexey Marchenko became the fifth Red Wings’ rookie – and the first with the nickname ‘Killer’ – to make his NHL debut last season when he appeared in Detroit’s 5-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Jan. 4.
At 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Marchenko is already an imposing figure on the ice, but it was during a more relaxing sport that the Moscow native earned the moniker.
“We took him fishing with us in Traverse City,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “He’s a good fisherman. His nickname is Killer.”
Invited to go fly fishing for salmon last September, Marchenko was credited with catching the largest fish in the group that included Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
“Honestly, I’m not a big fisherman. I like it with all of the nature all around, but it was a great time during the camp,” said Marchenko, who caught a salmon that weighed 26 to 28 pounds.
“I caught one, but it was the biggest one in the group at the end when it started to get dark,” he said. “I think it was about 12-13 kilos.”
The 22-year-old Marchenko had already caught the attention of the Red Wings and the coaching staff.
“I haven’t seen him play that much, but I saw some of him in camp,” Zetterberg said. “He’s a big guy, a right-handed shot and he plays well so it’s going to be fun to see what he can do up here.
“He is a good skater and sees the ice very well and just because he’s a big guy makes it so much easier to see the ice.”
Marchenko, who was picked in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL draft, replaced defenseman Danny DeKeyser in Detroit’s lineup. DeKeyser suffered a groin injury midway through the New Year’s Day Winter Classic in Ann Arbor that caused him to miss three games.
Wings coach Mike Babcock had heard rave reviews from Grand Rapids on Marchenko, who had two goals and 16 points with a plus-15 rating in 33 AHL games with the Griffins before his call-up.
“I don’t know much about him, he played in the KHL, so he’s a real good player, he had a good camp,” Babcock said in January. “Every time I call down to Grand Rapids they say he’s their best guy. If you do well down there you get an opportunity here. It’s like anybody, you come up and try to make a case for yourself that you can stay, so that’s the opportunity he’s been given by the guys getting injured.”
Marchenko logged 82 games in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League before his arrival in North America in September. He and Datsyuk were teammates with CSKA Moscow during the lockout last season.
“Last year I was playing with CSKA during the lockout and I got to know him a little bit,” Marchenko said. “It helps a little bit because I already know him. So it was great to go fishing with those guys who are great guys even off of the ice.”
The game against Dallas was the sole NHL appearance Marchenko made with the Wings last season, in which he was paired with veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey.
“He’s a heavy guy,” Babcock said. “Evidently he can really make plays coming out of his own zone. He defends well. He’s a heavy guy, doesn’t seem to mind the heavy going.”
Marchenko finished the regular season with the Griffins with three goals and 15 assists through 49 games.