Deron Quint. Chelyabinsk’s own

Traktor’s biggest strength is performance on the ice

Deron, what do you make of season’s start? Who surprised you and who did not?
Lev and SKA had a good start. Ak Bars and Salavat Yulaev traditionally look strong. Avangard’s start is also surprising, but in a negative way. However, they had a so-so start last season, but still managed to make it to the play-offs.

Are you familiar with the details of the NHL lockout?
Yes, I am. The situation is quite complicated – club owners want to make their profit, players want their salaries. I believe they are going to get along, and the new NHL season will start. The world’s economy is not in a good shape right now, and nobody wants to hear about someone arguing over money. My thinking is that the season will begin before the New Year.

In the meantime, leading US sports channels are purchasing the rights to broadcast KHL matches in the States.

That’s great! The more people watch KHL, the better. Americans and Canadians get to watch the best European players, like, for example, Kuznetsov. He’s already well-known all over the world, and now everyone can watch Kuzy on a regular basis.

What are NHL players doing now that there is a lockout?

The majority of players are at home spending time with their nearest and dearest and enjoying a long vacation, meanwhile hoping that lockout will soon end. They’ve got a long season to play, so they’d better rest properly.

Compared to this, our league is at boiling point right now, and so was Aleksandr Radulov during our match with CSKA. What do you make of his conduct?
It’s in Radulov’s nature. He wants to win and will go to any lengths to do it. It happens sometimes, and the emotions are boiling over. I’m sure that Radulov felt bad after what had happened. Sure, he is explosive, but he is a great talent, a true fighter and one of the most charismatic players in all of KHL.

SKA signed Kovalchuk, Dynamo signed Ovechkin, CSKA singed Datsyuk…
It always happens in the world of professional sport. There are teams that can afford to buy anyone they want, for instance, New York Yankees or LA Lakers. SKA is one of such teams, and yes they signed Kovalchuk, one of the greatest hockey players in the world today. He’s great to watch, but anyhow, matches are won on the ice, not outside it. I think this is Traktor’s biggest strength; plus, it says a lot about our coaching staff and management.

Speaking of Kovalchuk – how would you feel if a guy who had not been a part of the team during pre-season appeared somewhere mid-season and instantly became team’s captain?
This is somewhat controversial. On the one hand, he will be with the team for a month or so; on the other hand, he’s one of the most famous and respected players in the world. It’s SKA’s business; if they have chosen to do so, leave them be, they know what they are doing.

Why not put jet engines onto Kuzy’s skates and let him fly around the rink?

Moving on; this is your third season in Traktor, and your contract expires in 2013. What’s next?
Let me say that I’m going to play for as long as Icould; I feel great now, notwithstanding my age. I think I’m handling the competition pretty well, and I’m trying to be useful for Traktor. I like Chelyabinsk; everything has become so familiar to me. I would like to keep playing here; coaches, management, the city, Traktor fans – everything here is just awesome!

So you would like to stay here for a while?

Absolutely! Rarely does it happen that the head management, coaches and players share the same mindset and work so hard to attain the needed goal. It’s an honor to be a part of such team. Take, for example, Detroit of 1990s of Pittsburgh of 2000s; both these teams have not been built overnight, but when they finally have been, they immediately started to bring the results and ultimately became legendary.

This season your style differs from that of the previous ones – you are more defense-oriented these days.

Look at the forwards that I play with: Chisy, Buly and Kuzy. They know how to score better than me, so my role on the ice has changed a bit – I’m there to stop the opponents’ attacks and begin our own.

You are one of team’s leaders when it comes to time spent on the ice. How do you handle this physical pressure?

To begin with, you have to work hard during pre-season. If you take care after your body, follow your dietary and training regimen, if you sleep well, you will be tough as nails. Of course you give it all on the ice, and then you feel tired as hell. But as long the coach trusts you, you have to give it all out there.

One Finnish forward who asked not to be named says that he always lives alone in a hotel when the team is on away series. Do you know why? And one more question, whom do you usually share a hotel room with?
He’s Finnish which explains everything (laughs). We all know how these Finnish are… As for me, I also live alone in hotel rooms. When Ray Giroux was around, I used to share a hotel room with him. I snore a lot, but it did not bother Ray (laughs). Goalies also like to live alone, because, well, because they are "different". Nonetheless, when we are away, we are a big family; we take care of each other. However, there’s always plenty of place for jokes and gags. I love road trips – everyone takes pleasure from communicating with one another.

When in other cities, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Hanging out, walking around the city or simply sitting in a hotel, chatting about hockey and other stuff.

The same Finnish forward says that one american defensman does not miss a chance to crack a joke about a teammate. What does one need to do to get your ‘attention’?
I look at it this way: we are athletes, and we are lucky to do what we like the most. Hockey is the best thing in the whole world for me; I love being a hockey player, and I love to bring the pleasure and fun that I get from doing it to others, whether it be in the form a joke or something else. I do not miss at chance to crack a joke about Dolce&Gabbana sport pants or shoes. Kuzy says his Louis Vuitton purse is for men, while I am sure he stole it from his wife (laughs). There’s always lots of stuff to laugh about.

Couple of words about the newcomers. Have they already become an integral part of the team?
Andrey Kostitsyn definitely has; he is going to be one of the best players in KHL. He has plenty of experience, he sees the ice well, he’s great in power game; plus, his wrist shot is a lethal weapon. Same goes for Belov – despite his relatively small height, he’s a great defender, a decent passer and a smart player in general. Maksim Karpov is also a good young player; Suglobov is a great acquisition too. We’re now stronger than ever!

KHL All-Star Game will take place in Chelyabinsk in January, 2013, but the preparations are already in full swing. Any ideas on additions to the contests?
I don’t know. We could put jet engines onto Kuzy skates and let him fly around the rink (laughs). I also saw a three-wheel motorcycle which our mascot rides to the rink. We could hook up a couple of guys to it and make them amuse the fans. In all seriousness, it’s great that Chelyabinsk is a host city for an event of such caliber; I hope more of my teammates will get on the starting line-up. To do this, we have to ask Chelyabinsk faithful to vote for their favorites on the Internet. A city like this should be represented in All-Star Game.

How many times have you been chosen to participate in All-Star matches?
Four times in a row back in Germany. It’s always an honor and a privilege to be chosen to play in All-Star Game. Maybe this time I will get lucky and make it there (smiles).

It would be awesome, because you are loved and respected by Chelyabinsk fans. By the way, the most bizarre situation that happened to you here, in Chelyabinsk?
Usually these things happen when I’m driving. This is crazy, but I got used to it already.

How often have you been stopped by the police while driving?
Couple of times when I was talking on the phone behind the wheel. As for popularity, people often recognize me in public places, and they try not to be a nuisance. Once though when I was sitting in a restaurant, a guy came up to me and asked why we had not defeated Avtomobilist decisively, but only 2:1 (smiles). In general, life in Chelyabinsk is great, and it is certainly not Nizhnekamsk where things were totally different.

The last question: do you keep in touch with Raymond Giroux? If yes, how is he doing?
Of course I do. Ray liked it here in Chelyabinsk, so as his friend, I was upset to see him leave. Ray’s a fighter though; he will keep on playing wherever he goes. It’s sad to be here without him, but this is life, and trades are an integral part of today’s world of hockey.