After three and a half seasons in the Detroit Red Wings system, Russian defenseman Alexey Marchenko was recently claimed off waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He missed the first 10 games with his new club due to an injury, but finally had his debut when the Leafs lost to the New York Rangers 2-1 (SO) on Feb. 23. In this translated interview, Marchenko talks about his move to the Leafs, briefly discusses Mike Babcock’s assignments and explains how it feels to play with other three Russian-speaking players.
* You can enjoy the article by Lina Trunina in the Russian language if you prefer.*
First Game as a Leaf
Lina Trunina: Congrats for your debut as a Leaf! What impressions did the game leave you?
Alexey Marchenko: Only the best feelings, especially considering that I didn’t play for almost a month. No hockey player wants to just sit around and watch other guys playing. This is why I am so glad that I finally played. I was so happy that I wasn’t even nervous before the game. The most important thing was to stay cool and play my best game.
Connor Brown makes it 1-0 Leafs. No such thing as a third assist but newcomer Alexey Marchenko was involved in this play. pic.twitter.com/h2EVTOvThP
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) February 24, 2017
LT: Did you enjoy playing with Jake Gardiner?
AM: Yes, I think that Jake is an excellent defenseman. He’s such a good skater. He sees the ice very well and makes great passes. We played before the game, trying to agree on how to play in each zone, this kind of stuff, and we tried to play well. Did we play a good game? It’s your task to judge.
LT: What tasks did Mike Babcock assign you before the game?
AM: Before the game, the coach simply told me to play my best hockey. He knows what he can expect from me and what kind of hockey I can showcase.
LT: How did you like Air Canada Centre and local fans?
AM: The arena is great, there are always a lot of fans and it shows that they love the game.
LT: Did anyone from your family attend the game?
AM: From my family, only my wife attended the game.
Moving From Detroit
LT: How did your move from Detroit to Toronto go?
AM: I and my wife simply packed up our things, I already knew Toronto, I was here already for the World Cup. I really like this city, it’s very big and you have plenty of options here.
Babcock on Marchenko: “Obviously, he’s got skill & he’s smart & he’s a big man out there. (His play) was a positive as well.”
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) February 24, 2017
LT: How do you like playing on a team with three Russian-speaking players? There is Leo Komarov and two Nikitas – Soshnikov and Zaitsev.
AM: Frankly speaking, I’m not used to playing on a team with such a high number of Russian-speaking guys. But I think that it’s cool. Last year in Detroit I only had one Russian: Pavel Datsyuk. This season for the Red Wings I had only the masseur Sergei Tchekmarev to talk in Russian with. It’s very useful to have people who come from your own country. The guys are always helping me, they give me good suggestions, including in household matters.