“Znarok came to Kazan and immediately said: ‘I will live on the base. What’s Going On Behind The Scenes Of The ‘Ak Bars’ Star

“Znarok came to Kazan and immediately said: ‘I will live on the base.  What’s Going On Behind The Scenes Of The ‘Ak Bars’ Star

“Khovanov took the minimum contract in the KHL”

– Alexander Khovanov – we remember him from the first link of the Russian youth team. You have now fired the striker from the Minnesota system. How did it work?

– Sasha trained in Kazan, we contacted his representative. But we understand that with Ak Bars’ current roster, there’s no guarantee Khovanov will get a spot there. A few years ago, we already encountered such a situation, gave the player a certain carte blanche, discussed with head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov. He entrusted Khovanov to play in some matches, but those chances weren’t used.

The player left for Minnesota, realizing his problems, we were in constant contact with his representative. And after last season, Alexander himself said: “I want to stay in Russia. To prove my worth, to rise to the top of the Major League.

The player made financial concessions. I took the minimum possible contract in the KHL and in the Major League – half less.

On Monday, Khovanov completely passed the medical examination. Minnesota was expected to terminate his contract. Because the NHL club until the last wanted to keep it or exchange it. But the player clarified that he would not go to North America.

— We think Khovanov has potential. Several KHL clubs have approached us with an offer to trade sports rights. But he’s only 22, he showed a good game. If everything changes in Sasha’s head for the better, then he will realize his enormous potential.

For how many years did you sign it?

– For one year. But we tend to say that if a hockey player shows up before December, we can extend it. It all depends on the player. We have two agricultural clubs – Bars and Neftyanik. Now he will start training with the Bars and then we will watch. Farms have different tasks. Neftyanik’s team is made up of older guys, they are usually looking for medals. There he can be better in terms of development.

“We manage the risks, that’s why we didn’t sign foreigners”

– Dmitry Yashkin could be in Ak Bars. When did you stop applying?

We had two or three candidates for each position. Yashkin was one of them. But when we applied, Dmitry was going to the World Championships. And he had offers from the NHL. But there was no time to wait.

Now Dynamo has swapped SKA’s rights for him, but that happened at the end of July. If we waited for Yashkin, we might miss the same Alexander Radulov.

– Did the fact that Yashkin was a foreigner affect? Here, Dominik Hasek usually calls for jailing Czechs who play in the KHL.

– After the end of the season, we talked with Dmitry. Showed interest, openly answered all questions. And it mattered to us that he was a foreigner. We try to manage the risks and so now we start the season without foreign players. Although we will not guess here. Perhaps in October-November something will change and strangers will appear with us. But it’s too early to talk about that.

– There is an opinion that Ak Bars has a very good selection of attackers, but the defenders and goalkeepers are not the best in the league. What do you think?

— We approached each position systematically. Let’s look at the centre-forwards. The first center is Vadim Shipachev. But we also directed Kirill Semenov. We have experienced defenders – Vasily Tokranov, Dinar Khafizullin, Vyacheslav Voynov. Maxim Chudinov was taken to the preview, he is in great shape. They are strong players, they have been in sight for a long time. But there are also middle-aged defenders – Dmitry Yudin, Nikita Lyamkin, Christian Henkel, they are 26 years old. And there are talented young people training with the base.

And the guards?

– I bet we have a weak goalkeeping position. And where are the strong guardians now? Discover other KHL clubs. Strangers leave someone, somewhere they take a Major League goalie. You can’t see where the brigade is better than at Ak Bars.

Timur Bilyalov kept his level that year. He used to be injury prone but last season he didn’t have those problems. It didn’t work out a bit in the playoffs, but he’s considered one of the best goaltenders in the league, he won the KHL’s top goaltender award. We see his progress every year.

Amir Miftakhov played at all youth world championships, played North American hockey in the Tampa system. When will he grow up if not at 22? As Igor Bobkov was already leaving last season, we contacted Miftakhov and found out about his plans. We had the idea that the goalkeepers of Kazan should protect the goal of Ak Bars. But Slava Peksa and Artur Akhtyamov continue to grow. When should they be given a chance? Remember the age of Sergei Bobrovsky played in the Forge.

– Barter with CSKA for the rights to Ivan Fedotov – and wait for him from the army. How is the idea?

– We have very good relations with CSKA. But not so much.

“Kvartalnov was a candidate for the position of head coach”

– Do you still have a place under the salary cap?

“We have room for manoeuvre, albeit very small. And we don’t just do viewing deals. For example, if we sign a full-fledged one with Chudinov, the amount will be moderate.

– And what are the chances of Chudinov?

— Trial contract until the end of August. We want to see Maxim in matches. In the process of training there are no questions for him, he looks good, withstands the load. Yes, there is a risk of recurrence of the injury. But today’s market isn’t one to be pushed around by like-minded players with a winning track record.

– Did you really claim Vyacheslav Bykov as the head coach of Ak Bars? He hasn’t worked in the KHL since 2015. It’s already been eight years.

– We considered different candidates, talked about each, thought. Dmitry Kvartalnov was also on our list… Bykov, no matter how long he hadn’t worked in our league. All the same, he is a hockey block, can be a motivating factor. And we have a lot of young guys at the club who could be lifted up by his example.

– Bykov and Zakharkin worked for you at the academy.

— Yes, they came, held conferences, we talked.

‘You mentioned Kvartalnov. Ak Bars broke up with him to take him back?

“Until the last moment there was no decision. Dmitry Vyacheslavovich was among the candidates. He showed a good result in three years – silver, bronze. Last year a little did not work out , a little bad luck. But all the same, he did some things for the republic – he worked with young people, played fast hockey. Even if they called him “hit-run”, but we saw how it worked.

“It doesn’t look like the 2004/05 season at all”

– Oleg Znarok said that it was his initiative – to invite Zinetula Bilyaletdinov to Ak Bars. What did this offer look like?

It was more of a joint decision. We could not appoint Bilyaletdinov without listening to Znark’s opinion. And we understand how to use Zinetula Khaidyarovich’s experience for a common cause.

– Bilyaletdinov will fly on a trip?

It all depends on his desire. He can also fly.

– What kind of rider does Znark have? What wishes did the best coach express about his life?

– There are no special requirements. Znarok arrived, he liked everything and he said: “I will live at the base.”

– How did you manage to pay for Vadim Shipachev and Vyacheslav Voinov only 1000 rubles each, without giving your talented youth to Dynamo? And you also got Stanislav Galiev from there.

– All three had a clause in their contracts on the impossibility of an exchange without their consent. At the same time, rejuvenation continued at Dynamo, they had to be given somewhere. And it was difficult to pull their contracts. At the same time, the players themselves had a desire to work with Znark in Kazan. They flew ahead, saw our conditions. Everything worked together.

When we hired Shipacheva, Voinov, Galiyev, all the guys agreed to a certain reduction in wages.

– If we imagine that the FHR will offer Oleg Znark to become the coach of the Russian national team in one season, will Ak Bars allow him to work part-time?

Everything is always possible to discuss. With the same head coach – will he have such a desire to work in two positions. And we can’t intervene here. There is a national team and there are clubs.

– Finally, explain to those who constantly compare this Ak Bars with what happened in the 2004/05 season. Why is now a completely different team and this story is not like this?

– Because now we have made each acquisition point by point. We understand how to build a team – young, middle and older.

And in the 2004/05 season, Ak Bars really brought together great hockey players. But between them, it was necessary to divide the time. After all, everyone wanted to play – Lecavalier, Richards, Heatley, Kovalev, Kovalchuk… All are star scorers. Most last two minutes. How are you going to place these top hockey players properly? From then on, annoyance was born within the team: “Ah, we play less, but someone plays more.”

Now we don’t have that anymore. Everyone understands their role in the team. Radulov, Galiev, Shipachev, Voinov were given certain tasks. And they didn’t all sign at once in a crowd, because they’re stars. So it’s not at all like the 2004/05 season.

Source : MatchTV

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