Ilya Vorobyov: We want to show you our best hockey
We present to you the transcript of the press conference with the Metallurg first vice-president and director, Sergey Laskov, and the head coach of the team, Ilya Vorobyov.
– We noticed a huge number of penalties during the preseason matches. One of the players after a game said that the reason is the changing of rules. There is a need to review them once more. Are you planning to make a special explanation to clear the rules for everyone?
Ilya Vorobyov: As far as I remember, it was me who was this "hockey player". We discussed everything once more, cut video for the team-meeting, and cleared out what is penalized now and what is not, what they can do and what they cannot. Also, we made conclusions from conversations with the linesmen. Yes, we've specially chosen strong and bulky guys and now every cross-checking is taken as a minor penalty. We should give up this habit, as it costs points.
– Ilya Petrovich, two tournaments are over, what do you think of the preseason training?
Ilya Vorobyov: We are the only country in the world that estimates a preseason. You know, we have made a good job and, if it wasn't for injures, we would have been totally happy. As it is, we have fulfilled almost all our plans. It is the most important. Thanks to these games we have seen what we need to work on, for instance, penalties. Now we are improving skills.
– Sergey Alekseyevich, it was your first full off-season in hockey. How do you evaluate the results of your work and what are your personal impressions? Did you manage to complete everything, you had planned at the beginning of the summer?
Sergey Laskov: I think, it is the biggest sin to evaluate your own work. I think, that we have done everything we had planned. And whether it was effective or not, we will learn during the season.
– Sergey Aleskeyevich, Metallurg starts the season at home with the first series that will be quite long. But, unlike other cities, here spectators have not been yet attracted. You have to do it under the new circumstances for the first time. Are all departments of the club ready for 35% of the spectators?
Sergey Laskov: All departments are ready, all the conditions set by the KHL and Rospotrebnadzor are met. No problem should occur. The ticket program is already published on the website. Everyone can look at it and study. Everything is clear but, if there is any need, the contact numbers are also provided. Yes, this season we will not provide season passes. Instead, we have drawn a new system according to the current situation.
– The fans noticed that this off-season the team interacts more actively with the fans. Metallurg was the first team of the KHL, who approached a cameraman to remotely greet hockey fans all together. In general, in social networks the mood is more positive. Ilya Petrovich, is the team spirit also on the top?
Ilya Vorobyov: Indeed, the atmosphere of the team is better than it was before.
– Pavel Makhanovsky and Ivan Fishchenko were on try-out for Metallurg but returned in Yugra. Why didn't they fit?
Ilya Vorobyov: You know, the guys did well, they worked, and they did it hard. And we wish them luck in Yugra. I think, I should not share details that did not fully satisfy us. I wish them good luck, they did well, they came here and worked hard.
– Sergey Alekseevich, usually the team gets a task at the start of the season. What is the task this year?
Sergey Laskov: It is not a new question. Metallurg always set only challenging tasks, like all top athletes, and like it used to be with me. Only peak task. If a person doesn't set peak task, then why are they here at all?
– First home series of five games. Do you closely watch your first opponents at pre-season tournaments?
Ilya Vorobyov: You know, some of the games in the pre-season are not pre-season at all. Yes, there are summer along with as like as two peas games. Surely, we watch our first contestant and also follow Sochi during the tournament in Saint Petersburg. But we do not know their line-up till the very end. The situation in Sochi team is more or less clear. They had to keep to isolation but now they have time to get in shape. Meanwhile, all players of Kunlun Red Star team are on trial. Will foreign players come to them or not? Or will they put the current line-up to play? They have skillful players and interesting combinations.
– How are Sergei Mozyakin and Nikolai Kulemin recovering? Will they play in the first matches?
Ilya Vorobyov: It is still up in the air. We work on it.
– Martynov, Dronov, Rozhkov returned from Kazan with injuries, how are they doing with the recovery?
Ilya Vorobyov: Dronov starts training with the team on the day after tomorrow. And we plan him to take part in the first game if everything will be okay. Martynov's broken finger can't be glued together so quickly, and Nikita Rozhkov also needs time to train his ankle joint. That is why we can't give exact dates yet.
– You tried Bogdan Potekhin in the first link. What are your first impressions?
Ilya Vorobyov: His game skills alternate. There are different ways to look at it. He played four games and scored two goals. I think, it is not a bad result.
– Last season you said that many players were not in their best shape at the start of the season. What can say about this year?
Ilya Vorobyov: This year, things are as they should have been. We changed the fitness coach and started working with him in April and May. We were calling each other, preparing the training program, and sending it to the players. In fact, the programs are always given to the players but are not always used. But this year the team did. They were in good shape despite the isolation. They were looking for places to run cross-country, installed bicycles, and carry out our set of exercises.
– Sergey Alekseyevich, are you satisfied with the transfer company?
Sergey Laskov: We got what we wanted. Surely, we want more but I will not ask for another 100 million to buy Nesterov and Voynov, right? We are limited with the salary cap. I think that we examined and get good players in the team. I see in the locker room spirit that they came here to play and that the team now is shaping. There is still room for improvement but I don't think that it has huge influence. We did what we had to do.
– Ilya Petrovich, before Sergey Mozyakin was injured, how would you estimate his condition and readiness for the championship? And here is the second question: do you see a potential leadership link similar to Mozyakin– Kovář– Zaripov?
Ilya Vorobyov: Sergey was in very good shape and well prepared. Unfortunately, whatever happened, has happened. You know, maybe there is a need to look deeper. Hockey has changed. I have already told this story, but I will repeat it. In 2016, we were preparing a team meeting when the first line couldn't overplay Avtomobilist. I asked to cut a video from the final series against Lev Praha from 2014. Sergey Zvyagin was cutting and laughing. I asked: "Why are you laughing?" He said: "Now you'll see." Then we turned on and saw another hockey game. There was a 3-on-1 attack, another 3-on-2. Vasya saved and the first link scored in the next attack. And so on. Then hockey was like this. Now it has changed. Four links run and fight, who change faster and who make a mistake. Everything has changed.
– Now Metallurg has two strong goalkeepers, Koshechkin and Olkinuora. Both can claim the role of the first number. Have you already decided during the preseason games who will play more often in the regular season?
Ilya Vorobyov: We have made some conclusions and even drawn a plan but we will choose a goalie right before every game. It will depend on physical condition, training process, and state of health.
– While the tournament in Kazan, you alternated goalkeepers. Had you decided it beforehand or on the day of the game?
Ilya Vorobyov: Yes, we made this decision beforehand.
– In conclusion, we ask the participants of the press conference to address the fans before the season.
Sergey Laskov: As the number of spectators will be less due to the situation, we ask fans to be creative during the games. A bit more people visited the final game against Ak Bars in Kazan and the presence effect was not bad. The situation is as it is. Let's try to support the team together. Even the players ask how many viewers will be. They want more of them. We do need the sixth player on the rink! Therefore, we ask those who will be at the games to support the team more actively. Now we are developing online support for those, who watch games at home.
Ilya Vorobyov: Indeed, the players ask about the fans a lot, because we play for them. We are trying to keep in touch in these hard times and want to show you our best hockey. We understand that not everyone will be able to visit games because the whole city loves hockey. Cheer for us and stay healthy!