In this translated interview, originally appearing in Russian language on the popular portal sports.ru, Jets prospect Pavel Kraskovsky confirms that he wants to play in North America and talks about the recent Subway Super Series, the upcoming WJC, and his chances with the Winnipeg Jets.
* For the original interview by Dmitry Baldych, click here.
– Pavel, let’s start from the latest Subway Super Series, won by Team Russia. How did you like the atmosphere at the arenas?
– It was great! We lived and played in small Canadian cities. The hotels were great, the beds were big and confortable, that is what I liked the most (smiles). I also liked that the games were attended by [Russian] fans, this helped give us additional strength.
– Who was your roommate?
– Yegor Korshkov. We often live together during away games.
– What did the Super Series win mean to you?
– Well, a win is a win. Of course it’s always pleasant when you win, even more so against Team Canada and on their own soil. It was good because there was plenty of physicality, and it has been a new experience for me. In Russia there isn’t much of this kind of hockey. When you play on the small ice you have to think faster, the game is more intensive. And also… it’s a good chance to showcase your game to increase your chance of a WJC spot and to show your home club that they weren’t wrong when they decided to trust you.
– Does this mean that right now you aren’t sure you’ll get a spot in the WJC squad?
– No, I’m not. How could I be sure that I’ll get to the WJC? This will be up to the coach, and he’ll decide later. Of course I’d love to take part in the tournament and try to win it, and go again next year. Not many players have such a chance. There is a lot of competition for a spot in the team and many players who were believed to be locks for the WJC didn’t even make the preliminary roster.
– Yes, there is a lot of competition, but I’m sure that two goals in the deciding game of the series didn’t hurt your chances. What did [Team Russia head coach] Valeri Bragin tell the team in the locker room after the game?
– He didn’t say anything special. Who had the best stats wasn’t important to us. We wanted to win. Yes, he congratulated with us, but nothing supernatural. In one game a player was great, in another game it was another guy’s turn. And the result is a win for the whole team.
– What happened in game four? How would you explain such a defeat after such a succesful start?
– I don’t know what happened. Everything was the same as usual, we focused on the game. We went down in the first period already and couldn’t catch up.
– During the tournament the roster of the team changed as CHL players joined you against the respective league’s selects. Did Scherbak or Nikolishin tell you about the opponents and their style?
– No, they did not. We simply talked about our lives. We watched all the players on the ice, many of them were drafted by NHL teams, someone even played there already. Maybe someone asked them about this or that player, but I don’t remember any talk about their style of play.
– Lately you spent a lot of time travelling, your schedule has been something like Canada – Russia – Europe – Russia. In three weeks you visited pretty much any time zone in the world. How did this influence your physical conditions?
– In principle I feel myself in excellent conditions. At the start it has been hard, but now it’s easier. The important is to find time to rest and have a good sleep. This is the key to adapt your body to the different time zones.
– Other than the different time zones, you had to fly a lot. Did you have to battle aerophobia?
– No, I don’t have any fear of airplanes. I spend time on the plane depending on my mood when I get on the plane itself. Sometimes I sleep, sometimes I watch a movie. I never met a hockey player with this problem. Everyone is used to it.
– Wasn’t it a bit offensive to have a transcontinental flight to Bratislava for the game against Slovan, then being a healty scratch?
– No, I’m not such a person. We had some practices, then the coaches told me to rest and prepare for the next game. Therefore I needed to get ready!
– During the game against Medvescak Zagreb you managed to play your first game under Dave King. Until your debut, how many times did you talk with Lokomotiv head coach?
– Two times in total (smiles). The first time was last year, when he invited me to practice with the Lokomotiv main team. And once this season. It was my debut. I really wanted to finally play for the main team and I thank our coaching staff for the chance they gave me. Maybe it wasn’t the best possible debut, but I didn’t ruin things for my team.
– In this year you changed 4 coaches in the Lokomotiv system, plus the national team coach. Is it hard to constantly swap coaches and coaching styles? What coach is the most easy to talk with?
– Each coach has his own style and schemes. You only need to hear and pay attention, all will be good then. Each coach is good on his own. I cannot and will not name anyone as better.
– You played your first KHL game last year. Do you remember that game? Do you remember what your coach Vorobyov told you before the game?
– I don’t remember much. I only remember what coaches and teammates told me: “Don’t worry, play hard and show your best game”.
– Do you still have the puck of your first KHL goal, scored against Salavat Yulaev Ufa? What is your most important trophy?
– Yes, I keep that puck at home, with all the other pucks, medals, and cups. I think that it’s one of the most important pieces of my collection. As far as I know, I became one of the youngest players to ever score for Lokomotiv and it was very pleasant to know it.
– Many of your former teammates in the Russian Junior League now play in the CHL. Did you have any offer to play there, especially after the draft?
– Of course I want to play in North America. But you need to be ready for it. You need to go to the training camp – which I plan to do next year – to get a taste of the NHL. But I love my country and for now I want to play here. I want to become an important player for Lokomotiv, then we’ll think about the future.
– Did you talk with Jets representatives? Did they offer anything, like getting to the training camp and playing in exhibition games?
– Of course, I met them during the Subway Super Series. We can say that we simply got in touch. There weren’t concrete plannings, it’s mostly up to me. You need to get there first, and I didn’t have this chance yet. Plus, I still have two years of contract with Lokomotiv.
– Do you have a car?
– Yes, I do. To speak the truth, my mama drives it. I didn’t have time to get the driving license due to all that travelling.
– What make is it?
– When you started playing, did you have any other sport to choose from?
– No, I started playing when I was 7, not when I was 4 like many other guys. It was late to have other sports too.
– Maybe it’s hard to be a hockey parent when it’s your birthday. What was your most surprising gift?
– I never asked my parents hockey gifts. Every gift is pleasant, especially when you’re a little boy. Among the ones I remember… three years ago my parents gifted me an iPhone 4, it was very pleasant. I was dreaming about having such a telephone.
– This year for you was very eventful. What do you expect from the next one?
– Well, this year is not over yet. I want to finish it cheerfully with a call to the WJC team. And I want to help my team winning the gold medal. I’ll think about 2015 in a month.
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso