Vladislav Fokin. Here to prove himself worthy

It was painful to get an injury in the beginning of the season

Vlad, how do you like KHL after two seasons in Major Hockey League?
I don’t see that many changes; however, the league has developed quite a bit especially due to the influx of NHL players coming to play here. Still, it was developed two years ago as well.

Do you remember well your time in the city of Leninogorsk?
In fact, I remember it very well. It’s a city in Tatarstan with 50 thousand inhabitants. Two training sessions a day, training base was 50 meters from the stadium. It was like the groundhog’s day; training session, lunch, sleep, training session, supper; spare time from 8 to 11 pm, no-show to the training base until 11 pm – you were fined. We were getting around only by bus; once we even went to Saint-Petersburg which took us 34 hours. With schedule like this depression and apathy started to creep in at times.

Let’s recall the match against SKA when you replaced Garnett, made several key saves and then got injured.

It was very painful. At first I was shaking with anxiety, but I got in the game pretty well, began to feel myself confident, and then bang! – I strained my groin muscle. By the way, it is a very commonplace injury among goaltenders.

How was your recovery process going?
It lasted two weeks; I was wearing bandages and on a drip; plus I had to have a total rest.

What does a player usually do during his recovery?
Oddly enough, he trains a lot; of course, he has to get doctor’s permission first though. In fact, to avoid injuries like these, one has to warm up well before the game.

Who is the biggest Traktor’s rival that could create the most trouble on team’s way to Gagarin Cup?

Any team that will make it to the playoffs will fight until the end. Even now in the regular season we have three or four teams that are somewhat weaker than the others, but they do not go down without a fight too.

It’s great to feel the fans’ support

Vlad, what do you think about the newly introduced rule that restricts the overall season game time for foreign goaltenders?
I believe it is a good decision, simply because there are many good Russian goalies that deserve a chance. There’s a stereotypical assumption that if a goaltender is not from Russia, he’s necessarily better, but that’s not so. However, it does not concern Michael Garnett; he showed his skill before signing with Traktor, and he‘s constantly proving why he’s #1 today.

During two of the previous matches fans were chanting your name. Did you notice that?
Of course! It’s always great to feel the personal support from the fans. Even though I was all in the game, I heard them chant my name, and it was fantastic.

Which city has the crowd as raucous as Chelyabinsk’s?
That would definitely be Riga. Fans there are so passionate, so emotional, even though they chant against you. Even if Dinamo trails, they won’t shut up, last time though I think we managed to keep them silent.

Fans are different; some of them chant all match long while some of them are largely silent and only react to certain moments. Which type do you prefer?

I certainly prefer boisterous crowds. You see, Chelmet plays in Yunost Sports Palace, and not that many people visit Chelmet’s matches, thus the atmosphere is not like in Traktor Arena. The game without chants seems boring, and sometimes it is absolutely necessary to get charged with emotions from the fans.

Compare KHL and Major Hockey League.
They are totally different, whether it be a larger picture or tiny details. VHL only has several teams who are not hard-pressed for money, others have more modest budgets.

Best goaltender in history is Martin Brodeur

You are 26 years old now. What are your personal goals for the nearest future?
To play as much as I can, to prove to everyone that I am worthy of being in Traktor. Playing as much as possible is the primary objective for the time being.

You once said you did not have hockey idols at all. With that said, who is the best goaltender in history in your opinion?
It’s definitely Martin Brodeur; he’s played so many seasons on a consistently high level, plus he has several Stanley Cups, Olympic gold, and many personal awards; so yes, it’d be him.

Have you learnt something useful watching him play?
Yes, I have noticed some tiny details; however, we have different styles – I play more in standing position while Canadian goaltenders largely employ the so-called butterfly style when they play on their knees a lot.

Whom of the KHL goaltenders would you like to point out?
Konstantin Barulin, Sergey Bobrovsky, Ilya Ezhov; Semyon Varlamov is also very impressive. If we take foreign goalies, I would point out Karri Ramo; he’s one of those who can single-handedly put the game away for his team.