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I found this translated interview with Vorobyev posted on HF Boards. Very interesting insight into him as a player and the Phantoms / Flyers organization on how they handle incoming players. Hidden Content Give reaction or reply to this topic to see the hidden content. I came across this interview with Mikhail Vorobyev in Михаил Воробьёв: «Если бы в «Салавате» предложили миллионы, я бы всё равно не остался» and would like to offer you my version of translation of the excerpts. The whole interview took 14 printed pages, so I took liberty in editing.
Usual disclaimer: I am not a professional translator and open for corrections, suggestions, clarifications.
To me this interview was interesting because not only it opens a window into a difference between Russian and North American prospect development, but also provides information about foreign prospects’ adjustment and LVP team.
Q: Mikhail, Philadelphia selected you in 2015. What had happened in next 2 years?
A: The scouts and the forward coaches would visit me at the international events. The Russian scout would frequently come to Ufa. At first, they invited me to attend Summer training camp, just to see for myself. By the end of my contract with Ufa we had begun more specific conversation about my wants. In response I asked what they would want, where would they see me.
Q: Any promises?
A: Nothing specific. I was focusing only on if they would work with me, develop me. I was told yes, and I was not concerned about anything else. I realized, I would have a healthy competition, and that I would have to win it to have a spot on the team.
Q: Did you expect Philadelphia to draft you?
A: I had had conversations with 5-6 clubs. Philadelphia seemed to be the most interested, they would frequently call me. However, their pick was a nice surprise.
Q: What was your first conversation with Flyers management about?
A: I received suggestions on areas of improvement. They promised to help my development. They warned that adjustment would not be easy, but I should not give up. I was told to start with learning English.
Q: What was a major area of improvement from hockey perspective?
A: Using my torso. There is much more contact on the smaller rinks, one must hold the body check and find right decisions.
Q: If Salavat paid you a lot money would you stay in Russia?
A: No, I would not.
Q: Had you talked to any Russian player before your departure?
A: After signing a contract I immediately got in touch with Slepyshev, Sergachev, Rubtsov, and Fazleev. In essence, I was wondering about relationship between players, coaches, and management.
Q: what were their replies?
A: Various, but I listened to my agent who said” Just go, it will be better for you”. I have not regretted my decision at all.
Q: Did you know Provorov?
A: No, I did not. We got acquainted in the USA. He is an excellent fellow, one could use him as an example for everything. He has built great processes for training, recuperation, games.
Q: What did you expect before coming over, and were your expectations met?
A: I did not expect anything. I was simply hoping that they would understand me, they would work with me, and they would help me with the language barrier. And indeed, a language tutor was immediately assigned to me. The coach, understanding my language deficiency, would use simple words, and would talk slowly in our 1-1 meetings. They had an individual approach to me and I, of course, had valued that.
Q: How did the rookie camp go?
A: Every morning would start with a video review. Crosby, Voracek, would not matter. We just observed how they played, how would they find their spot on the ice, how would they protect a puck, how would they play defense. Then we worked on the ice on both technical and tactical aspects of the game.
Q: What about conditioning?
A: After the rookie camp I flew home and then flew to Montreal to train with Slepyshev and Schipachev. Perhaps, it was a hardest training in my life.
Q: Even harder than in Russia?
A: Very much so. It seemed easy when you look at it from a side, but was very hard to perform.
Q: How is the club infrastructure (locker rooms, gyms, staff)?
A: I needed hockey gear when I arrived. They called asking what my preferences would be. I gave them 3 options thinking that I would get just one. But I received everything that I asked for. Then we would go to a manufacturer to customize my sticks. It was impressive.
The same approach is in terms of medical care. The club took care of my medical insurance immediately upon arrival. When I sustained an injury they immediately put together a course of treatment and assigned to an individual physical therapist. We have a team psychologist who would explain mental preparation for the games to us, how to destress to minute details. The coaches and the doctors would coach us on attention to our health in details, even, for instance, bedtime routine.
Q: What that would be?
A: A 15-20-minute fresh air walk and a 30-minute cold shower before that.
Q: Do you take a cold shower daily?
A: Yes. And it really helps. It made no sense at all in the beginning, then I got used to it.
Q: And what about music suggestions?
A: For example, one should listen to classical music in the morning. That helps with attitude towards workouts. One would have more desire to train rather than making oneself train and would enjoy hard training more.
Q: Do you?
A: When I have a chance.
Q: How is your language?
A: I learned hockey terms and common words and phrases. I can maintain a simple conversation to some extent.
Q: Can you give an interview in English yet?
Q: Can you share your first impressions about the team?
A: A lot of people started to help me and not only Russians. If I needed help with understanding I would go to them for help, and everyone would try to explain to me, show to me. When needed we used interpreter phone.
Q: What about hockey skills?
A: Very good guys. Our goalie Alex Lyon made 95 saves when we played an 8-period game in play-offs. It’s a new record- just unreal. He really stood on his head for some saves and not just in that game. Dustin Tokarski is very good too. I liked that neither one of them would give up on a shot. They stretch to save even impossible shots and sometimes luck smiles on them and they make impossible saves.
Q: Were you subjected to rookie rite of passage ritual?
A: One day we went to New York city and went to a restaurant. The rookies had to perform jokes, skits.
I played a player that coach would not understand due to a language barrier. I had to talk nonsense fast. Usually, it happens spontaneously. The captain sees something cool and says:” Rookies, do that!” Once we were riding a bus for 6 hour and the captain said: “rookies, thing songs”. I do not sing, so I got up and sang them Russian anthem.
Q: What was the reaction?
A: they were laughing, taking videos. It’s not offensive, it’s just tradition.
Q: Do you travel by bus a lot?
A: We fly to Canada and Charlotte, but mostly, by bus (about 2-hour range).
Q: What about coach?
A: I have found common language with him. I understood what he was requesting of me and could always talk to him. For about first three months he and I would watch videos daily. We would analize centers, he would coach me. It was very difficult at first to play on a smaller rink. I would overplay or make a dangerous pass. I was used to a bigger rink where such passes would go through. He would coach me on face-offs. It’s totally different there than in Russia.
Q: So, what about your face-off percentage?
A: I had had big problem with that in the beginning and had worked on that daily. First, I improved my offensive draw percentage, then they would ask me to go to the defensive dot.
Q: Which Russian coach would you compare to Gordon?
A: Perhaps Zaharkin. Both would like to build a team from within. They talk similarly too.
Q: In your first NHL game you had an assist and zero shots…
A: I had been scolded many times for not shooting. Somewhat after the New Year I was shooting more than most. A coach and I have been working on shooting from everywhere, and now I am used to it. I shoot the puck from a good spot rather than pass. I have been retrained.
Q: What are your first game memories?
A: I was more impressed with the first play-offs game. I was sitting out the first round due to injury and I saw how fans got excited, how 10 thousand people supported feverishly their team. The place was sold out, people would dress in black, orange or white. The fans are amazing there.
Q: What your impression of AHL hockey?
A: I had more fun playing there than in Russia. Everyone is hitting and playing tough. If an opponent plays dirty against your teammate, four others immediately are flying for a “kill”.
Q: You scored your first goal in month from the first game. Did you celebrate this event?
A: I did not focus on that. I knew I would not score again anytime soon, since I was not shooting. My line mates learned a Russian word for “shoot!’ and screamed at me. Perhaps, they started to hate me with all that passing.
Q: AHL has a very busy calendar including travels. That is not easy, is it?
A: It’s very hard in the beginning, then you get used to it. They have a very scientific approach to recuperation, so it’s getting easier.
Q: How do you evaluate the team’s results last season?
A: We should have won the conference final
Q: But you lost it 0:4.
A: Yes. We should have taken game 2, it would have been different.
Q: You had a 5 overtime periods in play-offs. Can you tell me about that?
A: My entire forearms were black and blue from face-offs. In third and fourt overtime your only thought is not to be scored on.
Q: that’s all you remember?
A: I was so exhausted After that game, I was sitting in a locker room for about an hour- I was not able to take off the uniform. Everyone wanted to sleep, but nobody could get undressed. Everyone was just silently sitting there. Only the coach had some emotions, everyone else was just drained.
Q: How do you recuperate after this?
A: We had a day off the next day, and the staff would perform all the rehabilitation procedures right in the hotel. The stretched and massaged us for about 5 hours.
Q: How do you evaluate your personal statistics?
A: After the new year I started accumulating points. before that I did not play as well as was required of me.
Q: You scored 6 points in 5 games at some point. What happened?
A: Nothing special. The smaller rink has become normal, and at times felt even too big.
Q: What was coaching evaluation of you at the end of the season?
A: You can judge by playing time - from 12 minutes in the beginning of the season to up to 20 by the end of the regular season.
Q: You had not been called up to the big club during the season? How do you evaluate your chances?
A: I really like the idea that there are no “irreplaceables” there. There is a sense of competition for the spot on the team. Nobody looks at your previous stats, you need to perform here and now. I like that.
Q: Did you regret leaving Ufa even once?
A: Not for a moment. I was home sick for a while, but team mates supported me. Someone would always have a BBQ for entire team. Every holiday we would celebrate in captain’s house. Guys would come with their wives and girlfriends. All would have a great time.
Q: What would happen if you stayed in Russia for another year or 2?
A: I would stagnate my development. I left on time.
Q: When will you start your next season preparation?
A: I have started it already. I came home 10 days ago and on day 5 received instruction from the coaches where to start and what to do. I have been working out in the gym for now.
Q: Are you going to Montreal this year?
A: No, the coaches asked me to train in Philadelphia.
Q: what are your goals for next season?
A: Make main team, play my game, contribute to the team.
Wisconsin hockey fan - the Flyers got a steal in getting Wyatt Kalynuk in the 7th round in 2017. Defenseman that has some special skating and passing skills. He is fantastic on the power play and as a distributor - controls play while on the ice. Has a nice hard wrist shot from the point that is almost always on net. Through six games he has 4 goals and 5 assists for the Badgers. Really fun player to watch. He still needs to improve his strength but he is a difference maker with the puck. At worst, I think the Flyers will have a nice QB for their power play in the future but he could be much more than that.
Kalynuk is a sophomore that stepped right in last season as a freshman and played big minutes. He needs to get stronger for the next level so he is still a couple of years away from the Flyers. However, his puck skills are fantastic and he has a great assistant coach in former NHL defenseman Mark Osiecki to mentor him. Wisconsin is loaded with NHL draft picks on defense - Ranger NHL 1st round pick K'andre Miller plays on the first power play unit with him. I'm not sure he will be a candidate for the Hobey Baker - Wisconsin is a very young team and they will need team success for him to get that kind of notice. Of course, if he can maintain the scoring pace he has had to start the season he could be part of that conversation.
Welcome back to being one of the Flyers top prospects German Rubtsov...after a couple of less than encouraging seasons (though also injury riddled) he really seems to be developing into the guy Hextall drafted should.
I couldn’t believe of how good a skater he is when I saw him in Portland. Does everything well. My excitement level went from 5 to 8.
I watched the Lehigh Valley/Springfield game tonight and Rubtsov is a real gem. I swear it's like watching the Russian version of Patrice Bergeron, except that Rubtsov is a much better skater. There's no wasted play out there, they just go out and perform and they make it look effortless. My hope is that Rubtsov stays the year. Don't call him up. Let him just play and soak in the atmosphere and then have him really push for a spot at next training camp. He's really going to be a great problem for the Flyers next season.