After winning the IIHF WC Gold Medal with Team Russia in 2014 and a solid season in the KHL as Avangard Omsk captain, this summer Sergey Kalinin decided to try himself in the best league of the world, signing for the New Jersey Devils an entry-level, one-year contract worth $925,000. In this translated interview, originally appearing on the Russian website russia-hockey.ru, the Devils forward Sergey Kalinin discussed the heavy injury he suffered from last spring, his health status, and declared that now he’s fully focused on the Devils training camp.
* For the original Russia-hockey.ru article, click here.
Kalinin suffered from a serious head injury during the playoffs when he collided with Barys Astana and Team Kazakhstan defenseman Roman Savchenko and left the ice on stretches after lying on the ice for some time in a pool of blood. No penalty was called and the same Kalinin never complained about the opposition play, nor did it his team, Avangard Omsk.
I don’t really want to remember what happened in Astana. It was an unlucky incident and I had to miss the KHL playoffs and the IIHF WC too. I hoped till the last time to be able to play at the IIHF WC, I was in constant contact with the staff of the National Team and I talked every day with the National Team physio, but the final decision was that it would have been better not to risk my health. And of course now I can’t wait to be called again to play for the National Team.
It was a tough period for Kalinin, but now he is fully recovered. The forward, who can be a valuable asset for the Devils for his ability to play both as center and on the flanks, briefly described what his rehab period looked like:
I spent a month at the Omsk hospital, then we thought about the National Team. As soon as I was cleared by the doctors I went on vacations. Then I got back to Omsk and gradually returned to ice practices. I followed the routine my trainer instructed and I’m fully healed now.
The KHL published the video of the Kalinin incident, getting more than 616,000 views. Here you can see the full event, from the hit to Kalinin leaving the ice. Barys Astana player #80 is former NHL player Nik Antropov.
In spite of his serious injury, Kalinin doesn’t look too worried about the more demanding NHL game, nor by the smaller ice.
I have no problem with the ice surface or the physical play. Both for me and the [New Jersey Devils] was important to understand that I was fully healed. In New York I underwent some special neurological examinations and I was cleared to play by all the doctors. Only after these exams I could skate at the Devils summer camp.
And it really looked like Kalinin enjoyed it. His first taste of NHL was a positive one for the Russian forward, even if probably he didn’t expect it to be any different.
The camp has been great. A lot of interesting stuff, it’s hard to exactly describe the feelings using words. Of course, generally speaking, the process was a little different from Russia. There is more individual work and a great deal of attention is focused on details.
[The players] were of a high level. There is a lot of competition because of course everyone wants to get a spot in the Devils lineup. I understood where I need to work further. But generally speaking I’m very satisfied about my conditioning and state of health.
Now I will practice alone with my conditioning coach. And then there will be the Devils training camp.
Kalinin, however, wasn’t too happy to share details about his move from Omsk, his home town club, as he declared during the interview, but still looked very determined to get the best of himself for the september training camp.
I think it’s better not to touch such a delicate topic like leaving Avangard Omsk. Now all I’m thinking about is the Devils training camp and how to best prepare myself for the new season. I don’t want to get distracted from these things.
Sergey Kalinin statistics: