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The Mag: What are they saying about me?

When Nigerian-Russian Akim Aliu moved to Toronto with hid family six years ago, he'd never seen a hockey game. Now the Blackhawks draftee is on the verge of skating to the NHL.

Updated: July 11, 2007, 3:15 PM ET
By Gare Joyce | ESPN The Magazine

Akim Aliu is trying to figure out what those guys are saying about him. He doesn't know their names, and he can't make out exactly what it is they're muttering about, but he can tell it's not good.

Aliu, in a navy, pin-striped suit, is killing time in the basement of Toronto's Park Plaza hotel, waiting for his next interview with an NHL team at the combine. He's watching other prospects go through their physical testing, the tests he went through this morning. He sees scouts milling ...

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