«The MFM-99 DID NOT EVEN START SHOWING IN RUSSIA, THEY WAVED AT US». CHUBAROV ABOUT THE VICTORY OVER CANADA AND THE WORK OF THE COACH
He played with young Ovechkin, and now he helps Vorobyov in Magnitogorsk.
Artem Chubarov’s hockey career ended too early — at the age of 29. Although he managed to play in the NHL for Vancouver, and in his youth he even promised to become a star. At the World Youth Championships, Chubarov’s throw in overtime brought a victory to the Russian team over Canada. MFM-1999 and that final is still one of the most memorable in the history of our hockey. After returning from the NHL, which by and large did not subdue to Artyom, the center forward spent several more years in Super League clubs, after which he switched to the coaching. For eight seasons, he was part of the Torpedo headquarters from his native Nizhny Novgorod, helping Peteris Skudra and David Nemirovsky. Since this season, Chubarov has been assisting Ilya Vorobyov at Magnitogorsk.
— Let’s start with the events of the off-season. Do I understand correctly that you were supposed to work at «Kunlun» team?
— There was such an option, it’s true. We started from the fact that Nemirovsky’s entire staff would work in Kunlun. But at the last moment, David announced that he would stay in Canada and miss this season. One superimposed on the other, an offer came from Magnitogorsk, and I ended up here.
— Vladimir Kulikov, who worked at Nemirovsky’s headquarters, nevertheless signed a contract with Kunlun. Did you have an option to work with a Chinese club, but without David?
— They offered me a contract. But the situation was such that it is not known who will be the head coach, and there weren’t really any players at that time. Lots of unknown terms.
— Can a coach be interested in working in a team without tournament ambitions?
— As the leaders of the club explained to us, they revised the approach, decided to change the vector. For this, David was invited. But it turned out the way it did.
— Is your departure from Torpedo a decision by Nemirovsky in order to change the situation, or did the management say «thank you, goodbye» to your headquarters?
— "Everything was well known there. We knew in advance that there would be a new headquarters in Nizhny Novgorod, everyone was ready for this.
— "However, you have a special case. You are from Nizhny Novgorod, you worked at Torpedo with different head coaches.
— Nothing to do about. In hockey, it is difficult to sit in one place for a long time. Sooner or later, people will come who want to see their headquarters nearby. So again, no surprises. Even at the beginning of winter, everything was decided. As I understand it, it didn’t even depend on the result.
— How did you work in such an environment?
— We remind ourselves that we are professionals. The Olympic break was already close. And then covid happened, stop of the season. We didn’t work for so long, knowing that we would not stay at the club.
— As a player, you did not intersect with Ilya Vorobyov anywhere. How did you end up at his headquarters?
— It’s better to ask Ilya Petrovich. But Klemen Mohoric, a Slovenian goalkeeping coach, who used to be part of the Torpedo headquarters, currently works at Magnitogorsk. He acted as a kind of link, probably told something to Vorobyov.
— It’s a mystery to me, how you readjusted after Skudra to work with Nemirovsky. This is the Yin and Yang.
— Different approach, different hockey. When David arrived, he asked me his vision, I — his. Then we realized that we would work together.
— Nemirovsky, before joining Torpedo, never worked as a head coach, and he worked as an assistant for nothing. Was it difficult to accept him as your boss?
— "Everyone starts from somewhere. His understanding of hockey is at the high level. David knows a lot, communicates a lot with North American coaches. He, somehow, quickly joined the role of head coach, so there were no perception problems.
— You were invited to work as a coach by Skudra. Remember how it was.
— It was his second season in Nizhny. First, we knew each other from Vancouver. He called, offered, I took some time to think. Before that, I moved away from hockey, for four years I had nothing to do with it. There were no all these trips, he led a sedentary life in Nizhny Novgorod. It was necessary to decide, to discuss such changes with the family. I agreed and off we went.
— In the very period when you moved away from hockey, you owned a restaurant in Nizhny Novgorod ...
— It no longer exists. We worked for eight years. There the crisis came, it became unprofitable. I was not the only founder, my friend was in charge of management there.
— Did you invest in any business during your career?
— No. It was not so developed at that times. Now the players have more options, but also unreliable advisers who can cheat, too.
— You leave the impression of a calm person. Were you such a player as well, or did working with Peteris take its toll and you had to balance him out?
— "I have always been like this. Although, of course, it happens that the other person gets out of me (laughs). Did I balance Skudra? Probably sometimes.
— When Peteris went with the fight against Popikhin and Joensuu, where were you? How did they react?
— No one got involved in these matters (smiles). Hockey is hockey. Emotions have Peteris was and truth abound. Everyone knew his character very well, tried to perceive everything without question.
— Could you imagine that at some point a mass fight would begin, bench to bench?
— I confess, several times such a presentiment hung in the air. I have seen a lot in hockey, so I kept this scenario in my head.
— Skudra is now working in Kazakhstan. Would you dare to go with him if he called? Or do you have to love hockey too much to work at this level?
— I cannot answer this question for the simple reason that when there is already a situation, then you start thinking about it. He apparently decided that it was better to work than to sit at home. I hope that this is temporary and he will return to the KHL.
— Alexey Potapov said that some players almost cried from the pre-season at Torpedo. Do you understand them?
— Maybe it wasn’t for me? I confess I don’t remember this. It was hard, but I don’t think so on the anvil.
— They said that Sergei Samsonov had a similar reaction at Dynamo Krikunov. Do you remember?
— He had something else. If I’m not confusing anything, Sergei ended up in the hospital due to the fact that his blood vessel burst in the head area. He didn’t train much before, he immediately fell under serious loads and the body could not hadle them.
— From the team with which you won gold for Dynamo in 2005, several people work as coaches in the KHL now, and only Samsonov works in the NHL club system. Are you in contact with him?
— Not. We played together quite a bit. It will still not be possible to communicate with all former partners. We have no contact with Sergei.
— The path of Brylin — to play in the NHL, finish in the NHL, stay there to live and work in the club system — is the only way for Russian coaches to be in demand there and become an NHL club coach?
— Probably yes. First, to get there, you need to come to America. As a rule, you come there as a hockey player. This is the first step. Then gradually, gradually rise in the hierarchy. As Samsonov, as Brylin live there, their families are there. This is also an important factor. You need to connect your life with another country.
— Did you, while playing for Vancouver, admit that you could stay in Canada and put down roots there?
— To be honest, I lived for 5 years in Vancouver, but I always felt like going home. Maybe if I had played there until the end of my career, I would have become older — something has changed. But at that time there were no such plans.
— What was missing? Maybe you didn’t find any friends in Canada?
— No, we talked with the guys. But at the same time, of course, you need to get used to their everyday life, and to communication. You can’t visit there without being invited. As an example. The mentality we have with Canadians and Americans is different.
— Nikita Tryamkin, who traveled to Vancouver a few years ago, said that he remembered this city for the smell of marijuana. And you?
— When I played there, soft drugs were not yet legalized in Canada. So there was definitely no such smell on the streets. Wonderful city on the ocean. Very green, almost no winter. To see the snow, one had to go to the mountains.
— Do you have any connections or contacts that connect you with Vancouver?
— «Memories only remain. At first, he maintained relations with former teammates: with Brendan Morrison, Trevor Letowski. But that was when they were young. Then time passed, there were their own affairs-concerns. The conversation just disappeared.
— Nemirovsky recently went to Canada. If you imagine that he gets a job there in the AHL club and invites you to his headquarters, would you be interested?
— Complex issue. Everything depends on the fact that you need to go far. To the other end of the earth. It makes no sense to go for a season or two. If you move, then build a career ladder for yourself, understanding where is which step. What to do with family? I came to the Urals apart from my wife and children. There are no direct flights between Magnitogorsk and Nizhny Novgorod. You just don’t fly for the weekend. And transporting children who do not know the language to North America is a serious puzzle.
— Are such adventures the business of the young?
— Either young or those whose children are already adults. Well, now it’s generally problematic to get to that continent.
— Recalling the goal of the Balmochnys in the MFM final, Denis Arkhipov expressed the opinion that none of the current players could lift the puck with one hand like that. You work as a coach, so tell me: are the guys playing today technically better or worse prepared than your generation?
— We are comparing incomparable things. If you compare to Max, he was a hefty striker! He might not have planned that throw. I just saw, in the moment something worked in my head and performed it.
— In your opinion, lacrosse goals are a really good tool for delivering the puck to the gates or more show-off?
— I would say that it is both. But goalkeepers do have a weak point above the shoulder that can be hit this way. When he doesn’t expect and can’t put his head against the bar, why not?
— In your time, have anyone even tried to score with lacrosse?
— No (laughs). Didn’t get there, didn’t make it. Someone came up with the idea and away we go.
— It is clear, that for most coaches the main thing is — victories. But the fact that you, together with Nemirovsky, brought the same Damir Zhafyarov to a new level, is this a kind of fad?
— Of course. It’s nice to see when the guys are getting better with you. Damir, of course, grew up. Maybe not as early as he would like. But he became a good solid hockey player with outstanding technique. Zhafyarov is the most prominent figure, but besides him there were guys who were getting better under David.
— Did Zhafyarov really have to be revived after several unsuccessful seasons?
— I would not say. He was helped by the trust that Torpedo had from the first days. The main thing was not to pinch him constantly. So he got out of this psychological state, and then the game came.
— What are you proud of as a coach?
— I am proud that I became a coach (smiles). I think there is still more to come. You see, I worked only in Nizhny Novgorod. The level was not the highest, which means that this work is not completely indicative. But what we did there can also be attributed to some extent to pride. At least the fans liked what we did. The team played differently, it became interesting to watch.
— There are coaches who, in addition to tactical video analysis, show their teams various motivational videos, from past victories to feature films. Have you ever shown your wards the final of the 1999 MFM with the Canadians, in which you scored the winning goal?
— No. Firstly, such a video is not so easy to get now...
— Well, do you have it in your collection?
— I have only a video cassette. The question is what to look at! At one time, we were all given a cassette. In those years, the youth world championships were not broadcast live, and the video was edited with superimposed comments. It didn’t sound very natural anymore. When a person knows that the team has won, he will not be able to reproduce the emotions that people experience at the moment.
— Do you remember that final in every second?
— No, what are you! Everything forgotten gradually. I just remember certain moments and don’t think about it that often.
— Do any of the guys know what mark you left in the history of the MFM?
— The youngest generation, of course, is unlikely to know. Those who are older heard and saw something in the recording.
— Hockey for the youth began to be actively shown in 2010-2011. The MFM has become a part of the New Year, a rather promoted tournament. Aren’t you offended that that «golden» team remained in the shadows?
«After you win, it doesn’t matter so much anymore. Before us, only the CIS team won MFM gold in 1992. Therefore, I think they did not show it. They waved their hand at us. Yes, and organizing the broadcast is now easier than in those years.
— Now it seems that the Russian team has, if not a complex, then reverence for Canada. How did you, after seven years without victories at the MFM, manage not only to play on equal terms with the Canadians, but also to beat them on their own soil?
— Everything comes from ignorance (laughs). There is some truth in this joke. Then there were no endless notes in the press, draft lists, numerous experts. Perhaps they were, but all this information did not reach us. Before us were ordinary people, just like us. Canadians and Canadians.
— What was it like watching the players you beat at the age of 20 become NHL stars? The same with Roberto Luongo.
— «We should ask Luongo if he remembers that match and that goal!» In general, this is absolutely normal. Some find themselves, some don’t. Not everyone can become a star. That’s why I returned to Russia because I wanted to play a different role. I was valued in the NHL in a certain capacity, but I wanted something else. I wanted to play hockey. In the end, I got what I wanted: both in hockey and emotionally. I do not regret anything.
— You finished hockey quite early — at the age of 29. How long did they kill the player in themselves?
— I wouldn’t say. Business helped me to happen. I didn’t lie on the couch, I didn’t think from idleness «what if so, and what if so...» And the body already began to give signals. The knee bothered, then something else. And when you recover from injuries, then intensive training is more like a second preseason. Not much fun either.
—- You caught Alexander Ovechkin at Dynamo. He, as it seems, is made of iron and is not subject to injury. Was he already a machine in those early years?
—- He has always been a strong guy with an athletic figure. In the lockout season, we played in the same trio with him and Max Afinogenov. No one knew if he would become such a machine as it is now, but the makings were immediately visible. It was clear that he would become a hockey player. And as a result, he became a super hockey player.
—- Did he already have his own «office» then?
— No, then he was still like everyone else. Everywhere!
— What then were the qualities of Ovechkin that took your attention?
— The throw was already cool then. Speed. Now, of course, the years are gradually taking their toll, but in the early years in the NHL, Sasha was very fast.
— What about human qualities? What was he like?
— Absolutely normal guy. Cheerful, not showing off at all.
— Now, when Ovechkin goes after Gretzky’s eternal record, do you feel involved in history? After all, they centered Alexander the Great.
— No, no, of course not. But other people have tried. We just played together — nothing more.
— Working as a coach, do you see in any of the young talents of the same magnitude as Ovechkin’s?
— To see something, maybe, and you can have some inclinations. But will he become such a player? Is it realizing the potential? There are interesting guys, of course, I won’t name names. But someone from youth hockey immediately merges into adult hockey, someone needs time, and there are those who will never cross this line. Loads are different, hockey is different. But there are promising hockey players in Russia.
— Is Maxim Balmochnyh — the main unrealized talent in your memory?
— He and Max Afinogenov from my generation were quoted above all. Balmochny was very highly regarded in North America, they considered him a great talent. He physically matured early, but it turned out the way it happened. And Afinogenov had a very good career as well.
— Eight years ago you plunged headlong into coaching. Didn’t you regret?
— Nerves are spent, of course. Over time, I got used to it, but at first I wanted to run out onto the ice and do everything myself. Now I calmed down. It always helped me to digest the fact that I lived at home. Now there is a new step: the family is there, I am here.
— What is your pleasure from this work?
— All in the same victories. I do not get less positive emotions from this than when I was a player. I changed the role, but the desires remained the same.