Petri Kontiola: I know some ‘magical’ Russian words, and that is just enough for me
Valery Belousov is truly one
of a kind
Why did you not participate in the ODDSET Hockey Games?
I’ve missed a month of action before that, so when I got a call from the national team, and I said I had to be 100 percent. Coaches said, ‘Alright, no problem; you can arrive when you feel better’. As you can see, we reached an agreement on that one.
The majority of hockey fans and experts in Russia are against the Eurohockey Tour. How do Finnish hockey fans treat this tournament?
I am not sure. I think our fans always love to see the national team in action; I myself would also love to play the entire season without any ‘distractions’, but in the meantime the coaching staff has to see the players on the ice. All in all, Eurohockey Tour is a great opportunity for the players from SM-liiga to showcase and perfect their skills
You weren’t on the 2011 golden team Finland’s roster. Do you still regret it?
I was supposed to make it on the roster, but got injured during the KHL playoffs and was not medically cleared to play. I was very upset, but couldn’t do anything about it.
Any thoughts on the forthcoming World Championships?
All I can say is I will do my best to help my team this year; that’s of course if I have finally recovered by that time. As for right now, all my thoughts are with Traktor and about playoffs.
There was a time when KHL had tons of coaches from Finland. Was this a vogue or are Finnish coaches better than the Russian ones?
I think that by inviting foreign coaches KHL teams want to bring something new to their game. Finnish coaches are very professional, and under no circumstance did I want to denigrate Russian coaches – they are very high skilled specialists too!
Did you ever happen to work with coaches like Jortikka or Summanen?
Are they really as emotional as they often show themselves to be?
You can google the videos; they speak volumes about the temper of Finnish coaches.
Could you compare Finnish and Russian coaches?
Finnish coaches are workaholics and want their players to be like this. In the same time they want to make the training process as simple as possible. On the flip side of the coin there are Russian coaches who are more unpredictable and spontaneous in their decisions.
Valery Belousov is your typical Russian coach, isn’t he?
Yes, he is (smiles). I can’t even compare him to anybody. He’s truly one of a kind.
Internet is full of videos from Lahti Pelicans training sessions. Is this really like the training sessions in Finland go down?
I saw these clips (laughs). Even though I am sure the guys give it their all at
the training sessions, these are just ads made for entertainment of the fans.
Kuznetsov is the best Russian language teacher
Do you feel upset that Aaltonen did not arrive to Chelyabinsk? You promised to rock and roll with him.
Yes, I miss him somewhat. We could have improved our stats had we played alongside each other.
Being the only Finnish player in Russia, do you feel yourself lonely at times?
I might have been lonely during the first few months, but quickly felt myself at home. Traktor is a very close-knit team; everybody treats me well here.
Some players from Finland say it is impossible to learn Russian. Do you agree?
It’s not impossible, but is very difficult indeed.
Michael Garnett has been feverishly learning Russian for quite a while. Do you want to join him?
Uh-huh, like he doesn’t have other things to do (smiles).
So he studies the language because he’s a goalie?
Our goalies are bizarre, no doubt (smiles). In all seriousness, I want to learn the language, but it’s very difficult.
Do you any language barrier problems?
There are some, but not so much. I know some ‘magical’ words that are more than enough, like ‘kofe s molokom’ (eng. coffee with milk) or ‘amerikano s molokom’ (eng. Americano with milk).
What is the funniest Russian word?
I think all obscene Russian words are funny.
Is it true that Russian players teach the foreign ones to use the obscene words?
Ask Kuzya, he’s the best Russian language teacher (laughs).
Avangard’s Matti Kuparinen once said he was surprised that Russians shake hands to greet each other, and whistling is a bad omen. Are you surprised by things like that?
These are typical Russian stunts,
I know that. I had to shake hands a lot, and I’ve also heard about whistling as
a bad omen. That’s all fine; when you go to another country, you should be
ready to accept the traditions and customs of its people; if you don’t like it –
go back to your neck of the woods! I like it here though.
Do Russian and Finnish mentalities have a lot in common?
Yes they do! We are neighbors, so we are alike in many respects.
How do you like Traktor and Chelyabinsk in general?
I like playing for Traktor. It’s a great team with great teammates; the city has wonderful fans. That’s all I need.
Before your tenure in Traktor you played for Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Could you compare both teams and cities?
I think Chelyabinsk is a bit better than Magnitogorsk. First off, it’s simply bigger; secondly, there are many things to do other than hockey, and Chelyabinsk has a more developed infrastructure in general. In the same time, I am very thankful that Metallurg invited me to play for them and gave me an opportunity to be a part of KHL. Metallurg was my first KHL team, and I had a good time there. There is one thing that both cities are similar in – fans in both Chelyabinsk and Magnitogorsk deify hockey.
What’s your attitude towards altercations between Chelyabinsk and Magnitka fans?
I don’t like it one bit. I think fans should enjoy hockey instead of quarreling with each other. It’s just a game; you should not take it so seriously! Relax guys!
You once said that Traktor works on diesel fuel. Is there enough gas in the tank left for the playoffs?
I certainly hope so. We used to blunder in the beginning of the matches, but now we are on the winning track. I think that our performance is getting better by the match. We have had a nice two-week break to recuperate. There are two games left to play in the regular season; we have to win them both and get ready for the playoffs.
In the end of the last season Traktor was atop the overall KHL leaderboard. Now the results are somewhat more modest. Do you think it’s because Traktor got weaker?
I don’t think we should compare the two seasons. We had a huge spell of luck last season and won matches that pitted equal opponents. This season is a little bit different, and still I think our team has been solid throughout the season.
I will say exactly what every other player out there says – we don’t care which team we get.
While you were injured, Traktor had a cold streak; once you were back, Traktor got out of the slump and started winning. Do you think these events are linked?
No-no, it’s not about me. Traktor returned to the home ice and had a great four-match home series, that’s all.
This season you assist more than you score. Which one do you like the most?
I think everyone likes to score; I am not an exception. As for the stats – this season I have great linemates that utilize my passes to perfection, that’s why I have more assists than goals in my season’s resume.
Patrik Thoresen has recently become the best foreign player in KHL history points-wise. Are you planning on beating his record?
Yes, I’m already snapping on his heels!