Vladimir Antipov: our surprise is to go far in the playoffs

Does Traktor intend to win Gagarin Cup this season?

Do you think Traktor comes to the playoffs with less strength and confidence than last year?
No; I believe we’ve become even stronger due to the fact that we now have the playoff experience.

Which team would you hate to face the most in the playoffs and why?
It’s hard to say; the league has plenty of good teams like Magnitka, Ak Bars, SKA, Dynamo, Avangard. They will be hard to play against, but we will still have to play against someone anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

Back in 2007 you said in an interview that you ‘would surprise everyone in the playoffs’, and you did just that with Salavat Yulaev. With that being said, are you a regular season player or a playoff player?
It’s tough to say. I try my best in the regular season as well as in the playoffs.

Does Traktor have a playoff surprise for Chelyabinsk fans?
Yes we do, and that is to go far in the playoffs, preferably at least as far as the conference finals.

Do you think Valery Belousov is going to give you extra motivation in the playoffs?
There’s no need to do this. The atmosphere, the nerve – everyone feels it and doesn’t need to be pumped up even more.

What exactly did you say during the final intermission of the already historic match against Yugra in 2012?
Nothing special really. We just wanted to play the game and fight until the end because everything is possible in hockey, and it turned out to be just that.

Your thoughts on this miraculous comeback that fans won’t soon forget.
It’s great that we pulled off a victory in that game. Traktor always fights until the very last second of the match, and this comeback is a living proof of our desire to be victorious.

Do you think it’s possible to motivate the teammates during an unsuccessful match without using obscenities?
I think it is quite possible.

You often get injured during the playoffs. Do you want to play it safe sometimes and not show you’re A-game?
, I never think about doing this.

Are you comfortable in Traktor?
Yes I am; I like playing for Traktor.

Why at times don’t you get back to the bench immediately once your shift is over?
It usually happens when we have the bench that is farther from our net.

Do you talk to the goaltenders right before the match?
Not if it’s an accidental exchange of words.

Do you have any pre-match rite or something of the kind?
No, I don’t; except for maybe going to the training camp (laughs).

Do Bykov-Zakharkin duo and Valery Belousov want the same thing from their wing forwards?
Essentially yes – dynamic play with focus on the opposing team’s net.

What about the training process?
Every coach has their own secrets of the training process, so I can’t quite compare.

Who of the younger crop of Traktor’s talents has got the most upside?
I’d have to say Yevgeny Kuznetsov and Valery Nichushkin are the most talented ones.

When you score, do you recall your first goal ever?

With almost two years in Chelyabinsk, could you say that your ‘evergreen’ heart (reference to Antipov’s tenure in Salavat Yulaev; the team’s color is green – translator’s note) has become black and white?
I can’t answer that question.

What do Traktor and Salavat fans have in common?
They’re almost identical when it comes to love for the game and the support of their respective teams. Fans
of both teams are very raucous.

Do you have friendly relations with some of your teammates?
Yes; Kostya Panov, Dmitry Ryabykin, Kuzya and Vyacheslav Belov are my friends.

Do you have any favorite places for holidays? If yes, what are they?

Of course I do; I like two places – Europe and my parents’ countryside house.

Do you go to church?
Yes, I regularly do.

Are there any plans for the next season connected with Traktor?
It’s too early to talk about it; we have to finish the current season first.

What are you planning on doing when you hang up the skates?
Again, I have several more years in me, so for now I’m not going to make any plans.

How would you react if you were asked to be one of Traktor’s coaches once your player contract had expired?
It’s way too early to be a coach for me – I want to play hockey.