This summer Denis Gurianov decided to move overseas to play in the American Hockey League for the Texas Stars, after signing an entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars. Recently, Gurianov was one of the best players for Team Russia at the 2017 World Juniors Championship. In this translated interview, Gurianov talked about his call to the WJC, extra motivation by Valeri Bragin and adaptation to the AHL and the US.
* You can enjoy the interview by Roman Solovyov in the Russian language at championat.ru *
Denis Gurianov and the WJC
Roman Solovyov: Last year you were a last-minute cut from the WJC roster.
Denis Gurianov: That was tough. And it was all due to my own mistakes… But I already forgot about it. It’s always an honor to play for the national team.
RS: The WJC is 10 days from a hockey player’s life which will be remembered forever?
DG: Playing at the WJC is the dream of every player. Just to get here and play against the best players in the world of your age. Not everyone has such a chance.
RS: One of the main tasks at the WJC is to quickly become a team?
DG: We did it. All the players in the team are good guys, we played like one big family and had only one common goal for the tournament. I knew most of the players as we played together in the past for the national teams, and it was easy to get to know new players. There were no problems at all.
RS: Do you still remember that U18 WJC when you lost 5-0 to Switzerland?
DG: It’s in the past. It’s history. Going back there makes no sense. You can’t get back [and replay the game] so you have to live today.
RS: Observing you with the Texas Stars it’s easy to notice that you greatly improved your defensive game.
DG: I can’t really judge from outside. Probably I improved because in the club they give more stress to it. It’s very important also at the WJC.
RS: Valeri Bragin in November was worried about your lack of ice time.
DG: I’m a rookie and need to get used to AHL play. It’s not like you can get here and play in the first line right away. I’ve been trusted more recently. I have more ice time, I got to play on the powerplay and penalty killing and started scoring points.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) January 5, 2017
RS: He also added that he wasn’t sure to call you to the WJC.
DG: Yeah that gave me a push, it motivated me even more.
RS: Was day-to-day life the hardest thing to adapt to?
DG: Of course, [English] language first and foremost. But now I don’t have such problems anymore. Coaches and teammates help me. I also have a teacher. When I was in Dallas for the training camp I attended lessons in person, now we are studying through Skype.
About the Move to North America
RS: Did you study the English language in Russia?
DG: Yes, I did. Sometimes I attended lessons with a teacher, but it didn’t help, you need to practice. Until you get here you won’t understand what you actually learned. I got here with basic knowledge — in Russia you can practice only with import players, while here everything is in English.
RS: Do you follow Lada Togliatti back at home?
DG: I try watching the highlights from the games, of course, I do follow them. It’s my hometown and my home team. I want to thank fans in Togliatti who supported me and keep on supporting.
RS: What players do you remember the most from the training camp with the Dallas Stars?
DG: Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. They are true professionals. Watching them play is a joy for your eyes. Unfortunately, I haven’t played with them yet, so I have a goal now.
RS: You were compared in the past to Valeri Nichushkin, who recently got back to Russia.
DG: It was right after the draft, now I don’t hear that anymore. I talked with him a number of times, he’s a good guy.
RS: How did you settle in Texas? How’s the weather there?
DG: It’s a small city, I live next to the arena. Everything you need, shops, and so on, is always very close. It’s about +20°C now, very warm. It gets colder only on nights.
RS: Did you attend other sports’ events?
DG: I just started playing golf, everyone loves it here. I am a first-timer — I can’t get much out of it, but I’m improving.
RS: What other Russian players do you meet more often in the AHL?
DG: I often play against Sergei Boikov from San Antonio as our teams are in the same state. It’s always pleasant to meet other Russian players and have a talk together.
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso