Sometimes while he's on the ice, Sergei Durdin will try to stretch his memory 20 years to remember what his father would have done in similar situations. Then he'll try to imitate those things.
“When he was watching me, he told me that I had more potential than he had,” the Komets defenseman said. “I've been thinking about that all my life, and I have tried to prove it, to prove it to him, to prove it to myself and to my mother.”
Durdin's father Vladimir was a great player, a defenseman and captain of the Riga (Latvia) Dynamo team for 14 years in the Soviet Elite League. He was part of the squad that traveled to North America in 1988-89 to play a 10-game exhibition series against NHL teams.
Vladimir Durdin left Dynamo after that to play in Finland. He was driving home in 1991 when he went off the road and hit a tree, dying at age 34. His son was 10.
“There are still hockey players around who used to play with him,” Sergei Durdin said. “They say he was a good player, a tough guy. My Mom would always say, ‘Your Dad was honest, he would never try to cheat on something. He tried to live the right way.' Of course I don't want to let him down and I'm trying to live the same way.”
But how does a person live up to something like that, the perfect ideal that only a 10-year-old son could see in a father? How can he ever be sure he is meeting that challenge? It seems impossible.
“When I was a kid, of course it was pretty hard, but now I've gotten used to it,” Durdin said. “I just remember he was a great guy.”
But there are certain memories that make that challenge a positive one.
“My favorite time was when they were home and he'd take me to practice,” Durdin said. “Every time I'd be at the rink with him I'd skate with the team along the boards. My second home was the rink and I loved that.”
So of course Durdin plays for his father and tries to follow his example.
“I try to,” he said. “I tried to keep doing the job my dad started. I hope when I get a son, I'm not going to push him to the hockey, but I hope he will choose hockey to keep this going.”