Jan Bulis: Nothing could surprise me in Russia

We had the most difficult time in Kazan

Jan, how do you like the beginning of the season? Are
you satisfied with the results?
Yes, I am. We often the lead the way, occupying top places. Here’s to hoping it continues; we have a long season ahead of us, we have to keep getting points.

What was the most difficult match for Traktor so far in this season?
The most difficult match… I am not sure (smiles). On second thought, I think the match in Kazan against Ak Bars was the most difficult one. We lost 2:6, allowing too many goals.

How was the game against Atlant?
It was not easy too. Maybe it was due to the exhausting away series, but Atlant looked a lot faster than us. Thank goodness we managed to save the matchup and come up with a victory.

You are a former Atlant player…
I had special feelings last year when I first played against Atlant as a Traktor player. Now it is not like this; Atlant is just like any other team in the league for me.

It is a pity Nikolshin is not a part of Traktor’s roster

Why have you decided to stay in Traktor for another season?
When the season was over, I had a talk with Valery Belousov and Vladimir Krechin; they said that they wanted me to stay. I agreed, and everything went just right. After the deal was finalized, I went home to prepare for the next season.

You and Andrey Kostitsyn were teammates during your tenure in Montreal Canadiens.
It was for one season only; Andrey played in farm club back then. We were acquaintances, hardly friends. Now, of course, we know each other way better.

Are you acquainted with Andrey Nikolishin?
Yes, I know him very well; we played for Capitals for four seasons. He’s a great guy. I haven’t seen him in quite a while though; I don’t even know where he is now.

He played for one of Ukraine’s clubs last year.
Does he still play?

Yes, he does. Before you appeared in Traktor, he played here and was team’s captain. Everyone respected and loved him.
Yes, I know he played for Traktor. I honestly thought that Nikolishin was not an active player anymore; of course I never knew that he played in Ukraine. It’s a pity that Nikolishin is not here in Traktor.

Do you remember that you played your first match in Washington when Nikolishin got injured?
Sure, I do remember this. I had a nice pre-season and got a chance to play in NHL. Unfortunately, this chance came along at the expense of Andrey Nikolishin; he had a serious knee injury that kept him out of action for several months; this was how I debuted for Capitals.

Garnett is very solid, and that makes us even more confident

You scored six goals during the entire last season. This season you scored six times already during one month. What’s the reason behind this drastic yet positive change?
I don’t know (laughs). It’s a good thing though that you begin scoring right off the bat; it makes you comfortable. Then again, no matter how many goals you score, the best thing is when your team wins. I would like this trend to continue; besides that, we have to avoid injuries.

Did you have a talk with any NHL players about the lockout?
I talked to a couple of them, for example, Milan Hejduk from Colorado Avalanche. Quite frankly, when I moved to Russia, I ceased to follow NHL closely; I don’t even now know who plays for which team. I’ve watched Canadiens’ game recently; it occurred to me that the only played I knew was Tomas Plekanec, and I know him because he is from Czech Republic.

Is lockout a good thing or a bad thing?
It really is hard to say. I can tell from my own experience – lockout is a bad thing for everyone in NHL. Everyone lost so much after the last lockout. I honestly thought they would learn, but no – something is not working, and heck knows when (and if) the season is going to start. As far as KHL goes, it is certainly a great thing – lots of talented players are now in KHL, and the focus of the hockey world is now on our league.

Everyone allows while shorthanded, but not Traktor – we score while shorthanded. Why?
I know I am not supposed to answer to that because things will change and we will begin to allow shorthanded goals (laughs). On a serious note, it’s awesome that we are so productive during shorthanded play; this is what the coach wants us to do, and we oblige. Plus, Garnett is very solid, and this makes us even more confident.

It’s all fine, Petri’s just kidding

Why have you chosen number 38?
I used to have number 8, I always liked it. While I was a part of Washington Capitals, I got injured during every season; this was when I decided to change number 8. I picked 38 for no special reason; I just liked the look of it. It did not help though; injuries still come my way (smiles).

Do you follow any events in other kinds of sports?
Absolutely! I like football and golf.

Did you follow any big sport extravaganzas?
Yes, I watched 2012 Olympics in London, especially athletics. It is also my passion.

Your family now lives in Chelyabinsk. Do they visit Traktor’s home games?
Yes, they do. My daughter Nela is three years old, it’s hard for her to watch the whole game; my son Jan, however, already can. By the way, my son also trains here.

Yunost Sports Palace?
Yes, exactly.

Do you give your son any ‘hockey’ pieces of advice?
Of course I do. It’s not easy though because he and his mother live in Czech Republic; we don’t see each other for months. His grandfather is with him to visit every training session and every match; he also teaches little Jan a thing or two. Sure, it would be better if I was always there for him, but for now certain circumstances do not allow this to happen.

Petri Kontiola once said that he asked Valery Belousov not to give the two of you a double hotel room.
Nah, Petri was just kidding (laughs). We are friends; we live close to each other here in Chelyabinsk. It just so happened that we were given single rooms; so Kontiola was just joking.

Do you have any favorite places in Chelyabinsk?
Sure, there are tons of places to go to; however, opportunities to go out do not come along too often – we are either on an away series or at the training camp. Still, there are a lot of places to visit; besides, I live close to city center, so I can take a walk and enjoy the weather.

What’s the most surprising thing about Russia?
You are not making this easy for me, are you? I really do not have an answer to this question. When I first got here in Russia, I was befuddled at times, because in North America and in Russia life in general and lifestyles in particular are completely different. Now I got used to everything; any normal human being can get used to everything in two or three months. So as for now, nothing is so surprising about Russia, at least for me (smiles).