In this translated interview, originally appearing on the popular Russian website Sovsport.ru, Predators Defenseman Anton Volchenkov talks about his move to Nashville, rumors of him signing in Russia, and playing under Peter Laviolette.
* For the original interview by Pavel Lysenkov and Gennady Boguslavsky, click here.
– Hello Anton. So, did you settle in Nashville?
– I’m alone here. My family is still in New York. At first it wasn’t hard, as I was very busy with practices and games. But now it’s more of a routine and sometimes I get a little bored. But what can you do? This is the life of a hockey player. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your personal interests and wait the right time for them.
– Was it hard to adapt to the Western Conference style?
– In the Western Conference there is more physical play. Hockey is more dynamic, with more passes. But I accustomed myself now. All is good.
– Was it surprising when New Jersey bought out your contract?
– It’s business. I try not to wear myself out with these things. If I understood correctly, the Devils needed a forward as they lost Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. They needed to make their team a more offensive one. And I ended up in Nashville, who needed to reinforce their defensive corps. Business is business, I try to progress and have an important role within the team.
– It was rumored that you could get back to Russia.
– Well, should we really pay attention to the rumors? Getting back home it’s always pleasant. But when you have a family and two sons born and grow up in North America, then it’s very hard to think about it. My oldest son is more Canadian, he studied there. And also it’s hard to change the climate. But let’s not rush things up. We’ll see what happens.
– Did you become a fan of country music? In Nashville it’s very popular.
– What are you talking about!? Everyone asks me about country. And I reply that I’m still working on it. A lot of my teammates love country music. But I can’t say that it’s my style. I like listening to many different kind of music. I can say that in order to love country music you need to live in Nashville for long time. Or take for example Mike Fisher, who married Carrie Underwood, a very popular country singer. We played together in Ottawa and now we are together again here in Nashville. They’ll have a kid soon, therefore we have something to talk about.
– Do you feel a prejudice toward Russians in Nashville after the history with Radulov?
– Everyone asks me about it. What can I say? I don’t feel any pressure. I like the team, we have a good mix of young players and veterans. It’s very pleasant to work in such an environment. I know everyone, I played against them in the past.
– What is the secret of the great performances by the Predators this season? You’re now fighting for the first spot in the Western Conference.
– Unfortunately, we lost for a lot of time our goalie Pekka Rinne. We started playing more offensively, our forwards have more confidence now. It’s a good mix, just like any good team should be. We are all helping each other. Playing in such a team is great.
– You block many shots and are always among the league leaders in this stat. Is this a specific instruction from your coach?
– I always try blocking shots, what else should I do? You should always try and help your goalie. If there is a chance, I’m going to try and block a shot. It’s part of the game, and being I a stay-at-home defenseman, I try and get on myself any shot I can.
– How do you like working with Peter Laviolette?
– During my career I played under many coaches. And I’m going to say that when a team plays well and wins often, dealing with any coach is much easier. Instead, when the team loses, there is always a negative atmosphere in the locker room, much more pressure. Everything is doing well for the Predators now, maybe the latest three or four games weren’t the best, but every team has its ups and downs. We’ll work hard after the All-Star break, after all we still have a good half of the season in front of us.
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso