After moving to the Colorado Avalanche this summer, Andrei Mironov decided to get back to Russia after being disappointed with playing in the AHL. In this translated interview, originally appearing on the popular Russian site Sovsport.ru, Andrei Mironov explained the reasons for his return to home.
* You can enjoy the original Sovsport.ru article by Pavel Lysenkov following this link *
Pavel Lysenkov: How are you? How’s your career developing?
Andrei Mironov: Good question. I may write a “War and Peace”-like book about it. I took a very important decision.
Andrei Mironov Not Happy With AHL
PL: Maybe you weren’t given a chance?
AM: I was promoted. I practiced with the team and stayed alone after the practices. I was even practicing during games, running on a stationary bike. I was always in good shape, but the team didn’t see me in the roster or the coach didn’t like me.
AM: Because of my game or my style. Hard to say. I have been called up to the NHL two or three times. But I wasn’t allowed to play, I was just sent down again to the AHL hearing, “All is good, you’re a player for the NHL roster, but you need some practice in the farm team.”
PL: You were truly close to the Avalanche roster.
AM: Yes, and then three defensemen were injured. But for some reasons, I kept on not being played. I am not sure I would play even if all the six defensemen were injured.
Andrei Mironov to be bought out by Colorado Avalanche; will return to Russia https://t.co/PIUY0NMGTZ
— Tom Hunter (@PuckDontLie) March 2, 2018
PL: Were you waiting for your chance without saying much?
AM: No, I talked with my agent, Dan Milstein, who was always calling the boards to try to convince them to get me back in the main roster. I have talked with the team’s head coach Jared Bednar, even with the GM Joe Sakic. We had a few meetings. I’ve been told that I would be the first player to be called up from the AHL. That I’ll play at the first chance. But it was just words.
PL: What decision did you take?
AM: I’m getting back to Russia.
PL: Maybe you lacked patience?
AM: What? I was patient for the whole season. I waited, practiced, worked hard. I am honest with everyone, first of all with myself.
PL: Why not end the season in the AHL?
AM: I don’t want to play in that league. It’s not the level of hockey that I need.
PL: You scored nine points in 26 games, you didn’t look bad.
AM: I think that the AHL is of a lower level than the KHL. Both for hockey understanding and tactics. Yes, probably here the game is faster. But in the KHL you play against seasoned pros, while in the AHL it’s mostly young players who try to get called up. It’s just not the highest level. Critics may argue the opposite, but I felt the difference on my own skin.
PL: In what way will you cut ties with Colorado?
AM: I will dissolve my NHL contract. I can get back at any moment. The rights on me will stay with the Avalanche until I’m 28, then I’ll be a UFA. As soon as the Avalanche free me I’ll get back to Russia and start negotiating with KHL clubs.
PL: The KHL deadline has passed, you can’t play for Russian clubs up to next May 1.
AM: I know this, of course. I don’t think my season is over, I will keep on practicing and keep myself in shape.
PL: There is a precedent: Evgeny Nabokov in 2011 played for Team Russia at the IIHF WC even though he didn’t play for the Islanders. He went through one month of training camps and won a spot in the roster.
AM: It’s not totally up to me. But if I’m called I’ll give my heart out to show my best side for the national team. I’d accept any call to the first or even the second national team. I perfectly understand that I didn’t have a good season, that I didn’t win an NHL spot. Should I play in the WC? Let the coaches decide.
PL: Some wrote that your agent forgot about you.
AM: It’s totally false. My agent Dan Milstein is with me on the telephone every day. Literally. We talked seven days a week since I got here. He was always talking with me and it helped me a lot. It would be stupid to give it all on my agent.
PL: What’s the deal then?
AM: There is something called “Russian factor” – the way North American teams deal with Russians. I felt it on my skin.
PL: In what sense?
AM: My game, my hockey, maybe even myself weren’t appreciated by some of the coaches. Or maybe the GM didn’t like me. That’s normal. You always think that you’re perfect, but not everyone thinks that way. The thing that I didn’t like is that they called me many times to join them, they hasted me in dissolving my contract with Dynamo. They told me, watching in my eyes: “You’ll play for your team. We see yourself on the roster.” You start the season, and you keep on hearing: “You’re still on the roster.” You are the best in the tests, in the best shape. And you keep on not playing.
At first I was thinking, yes, I need to adapt. I need to get used to the league and learn the language. Then I started playing and my ice-time started rising. I discussed each game with the defensemen coach, and he was saying: “You’re progressing, you’re growing as a player.” Once the coach told me: “You’re very good, you’ll play even more.”
PL: And then?
AM: The next day they sent me to the AHL for one month.
AM: Then I was called up again. I played against the Islanders. We won 6-1, we didn’t leave them any chance.
AM: Then I was sent to the AHL for another month. And when the Avs won 10 games straight, I was told that they can’t change a winning roster.
PL: That’s sound logic, though.
AM: But I wasn’t played even when we had only two wins in eight games. I had a question: “How do you see myself in the roster? What should happen [for me to play]?”
Andrei Mironov in North America
PL: Moving to another country is hard sometimes. Did you have any problem in everyday life?
AM: It was hard. I lived all the season in the hotel. A big bathroom and a kitchen where I cooked for myself. I got bored in America, I had nothing to do. After the practice, when the other half of the team was free, I learned to cook. I was calling my mama and asked her some recipes to prepare some homemade food. I learned how to prepare a soup, how to cook meat, and even more complicated things.
There was little sense in renting a place, I was going up and down the whole time and I would have to commit to half a year. I was living between the AHL and the NHL. I would pack my things, get my rented car to park it in the airport and get to San Antonio. I was told that I would go there for just three or four games and I had to stay there for one month just with one sports suit. You know, in Russia the NHL is pumped too much. And in fact, not everything is so perfect and cool. I can name a lot of things where the KHL is better than the NHL.
PL: Tell me one then.
AM: I can talk about this for hours. A lot of things accumulated during the season. But you should me understand correctly. I’m Russian. I’m used to Russia. I grow up playing for Dynamo Moscow and I like that organization much better. It’s just my opinion. For example, at Dynamo we had four masseuses for 30 players, in Denver we had only one. A 70-year-old man.
We have reassigned Andrew Hammond, AJ Greer and Andrei Mironov. pic.twitter.com/smRsfGlVsP
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 7, 2018
PL: And what is the best part about the NHL?
AM: I don’t know. It’s thought of as the best league in the world. Okay, the level of players, skills, speed, in the NHL is better than the KHL. But I can’t say that the NHL is so grandiosely better than the KHL as it’s written in the press. It’s not all black and white. Everywhere there are pluses and minuses, both on and off the ice.
Andrei Mironov Back to Russia
PL: I remember that I talked with you before your move to Colorado. Don’t you think you made a mistake in leaving Russia to sign in the NHL?
AM: You should watch it in a different way. I gathered a lot of experience, it was a true lesson of life. I have seen what is the NHL. What happens in the AHL, the money that runs there, what the level is here. I am getting back to Russia as a different man.
PL: The Russians has just won the Olympic gold. Maybe you could be part of that team.
AM: Any choice a man takes is the correct one. No one would have guaranteed me that I was going to play at the Olympics. Maybe I wouldn’t have had a good season. I moved to the NHL and that was a good decision. Maybe if I didn’t move it would have been a million times worse. Or maybe a million times better. You can never know beforehand.
PL: Your story looks a little bit like Vadim Shipachyov’s history. Don’t you think that everyone will just say that you had no patience?
AM: What patience did I lack? Not to play one month and a half in the AHL? Should I have played there even if I’m absolutely sure that there’s nothing for me to do there? I wouldn’t play in the NHL anyway, if all of the defensemen were injured they would just call another player and not let me play myself.
I don’t want to judge Shipachyov. He fell into a strange and difficult situation. I don’t know all the details, but I understand him, getting there to play in the AHL? He refused and I’m not going to judge him for that.
I repeat: I decided to get back to Russia. Many players dream about playing in the NHL, but I decided to get back home and play in “my” league. This is what I need today. I want to play hockey, it’s just not my job, it’s my whole life!
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso