Alexei Morozov: “We believe that hockey is the number one sport in the country. And we don’t compare ourselves to football.

I met Morozov during the championship parade in Magnitogorsk, where the president of the KHL came to congratulate the Magnitogorsk hockey players. By the way, during the conversation, Morozov agreed with my idea that Metallurg not only won the Gagarin Cup, but also started a whole trend towards rejuvenation of the league.

“Let everyone admire the KHL”

— You came to the Metallurg championship parade in Magnitogorsk. How special is this for the entire league?

– Of course, it’s a holiday! Not only the players, but also their wives and families are preparing for it. All the city! Special thanks to the club leaders who agreed and organized such a parade. The weather was nice, the guys walked the streets, stopped at the amusement park and the factory. They signed autographs, took photos and showed everyone the Gagarin Cup.

It’s a wonderful day and such events popularize hockey and attract more fans. It’s a thank you to the people who supported their favorite team throughout the season and to the players themselves for their hard work. It’s very nice to see each other again and remember the “golden” moments that we experienced during the KHL championship and playoffs. Do you remember the speech of the new head coach Andrei Razin, when he took charge of Magnitogorsk for the first time and said: “I do not promise you the Gagarin Cup, but we will play honestly, everyone will beat on the ice”?

But in the end the guys fought and the Gagarin Cup was won. Metallurg proved to be a great team. The guys deserve this vacation, for which I congratulate them on behalf of the entire league.

— Recently, an assessment of the commercial efficiency of Russian sports clubs was published and Magnitogorsk entered the top 5 in hockey. Here is another consequence of the Gagarin Cup.

— This club is generally legendary, with great traditions. There is a continuity of generations. I remember how Gomolyako and the Koreshkov brothers played for Metallurg when they won gold medals. Then another generation came – Mozyakin, Kovarzh, Zaripov, Platonov and many other club leaders. But now a new generation has grown up, and Mozyakin was already helping the team as a coach.

You can see how Magnitogorsk works with its squad, with its fans, develops in the media space and attracts young players to hockey, which are the future.

It’s great that the city loves hockey so much, that there is a good stadium that meets all standards, where it is nice to come, spend time with your family and support your favorite team.

— I even say that hockey surpasses football in these rankings, although RPL is a large commercial company…

– We do not compare. And we believe that hockey is the priority. But if we take many indicators of attractiveness, it will become clear that hockey remains the leader in our country. We live with the idea that we ourselves must continue to grow and develop, without being compared to other sports.

— Let them watch KHL?

– Good motto!

“You wanted rejuvenation? Please receive”

— “Magnitka” won the Gagarin Cup, paving the way for rejuvenation. But it turns out that veterans can no longer find new teams. Radulov, Shipachev, Kagarlitsky found themselves in limbo. But before, the KHL was criticized for having so many older hockey players in the league.

– If we were scolded, now it turns out that they will praise us? Everyone wanted a rejuvenation – please, we got it.

Vadim Shipachev is still under contract with Ak Bars. Yes, Alexander Radulov too, Dmitry Kagarlitsky… But it is time, and yet the teams are now being formed. If there are places left, these guys will be attracted.

Well, as for the young people, they criticized the KHL for the fact that we lack confidence in the juniors, that they do not develop, that we press them with foreign players. But look, last season showed that our coaches won’t keep a good, promising kid on the bench if he’s stronger than a foreigner or a veteran. On the contrary, the one who is strongest on the ice is the one that the technical staff sends to the game to achieve its objectives.

It’s a good thing that rejuvenation is now underway. There is a lot of good up-and-coming talent that should develop and improve each year. This will make the league even more interesting.

— From now on, the pre-season begins on August 1st. And we lost several tournaments, like in Sochi or Kazan. But the clubs benefited from it.

— We do not participate in the organization of these tournaments. And I’m not sure the clubs make a lot of money from that. However, organizing such pre-season tournaments is expensive. They are useful for preparation, but now the time has been reduced a bit because the next season will last a month longer. And now many clubs have reconsidered their preparation for the championship, abandoning some tournaments.

However, they have enough time to play friendly matches and participate in other tournaments. But there will still be tournaments, clubs will come to some cities and we will still see interesting hockey in August.

“So far only Vityaz has signed five foreign players”

— What do you think about the staff of KHL clubs, taking into account the fact that the limit for foreigners has been increased to five people?

— It is important to understand that the North American market is not yet open, it will be July 1st.

We have until December 27 to recruit players without exceeding the limit. So let’s wait and see everything. The preseason doesn’t begin until August 1, when teams will begin submitting their applications for the season. In the meantime, some clubs are waiting, some players are in pause mode, in order to get a better contract and better conditions, considering different offers.

There is no rush and I know that so far we only have one club with a full squad of foreign players – Vityaz. And someone wants to attract fewer foreigners by hiring more Russians. Everyone follows their own path.

— The NHL actively protects its coaching market, and there are simply no outsiders there. Maybe in the KHL a foreign coach should be counted towards the foreigners limit? So they took the “Tractor” from French-speaking Benoit Groux – and they only had a quota of four foreigners.

— We have our own school of Russian coaches waiting for the moment. Someone has already gained such experience leading teams and made a name for themselves. Some people didn’t make it. We now have Russian coaches working in almost every KHL club. There are not many foreign players, and why introduce limits and restrictions?

If there is a good foreign specialist who will benefit our league, our teams and our players and who will teach young people something, then why refuse him? A striking example is Bob Hartley, who led Avangard to the championship. How many guys played in front of him! He gave new impetus not only to Omsk, but to our entire hockey. Now I talk to people who played under Hartley, and they tell me Bob even put shin guards on them and taught them things our coaches don’t tell them. How to block pucks, how to catch them…

So I think there is no need to impose restrictions at this time. There is no large influx of foreigners and there are places for Russian specialists. And the fact that we can gain good experience from the foreign coaches who come to us is indisputable. And you must use it!

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Source : MatchTV

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