Igor Nikitin: “We do not expect miracles from Radulov. Let him be himself at Lokomotiv”

If we remember this way, then Igor Nikitin, as assistant head coach, worked with Alexander Radulov both in CSKA and in the Russian national team during the World Championship in the mid-1990s. Otherwise said, they have known each other for many years. This currently played an important role in Radulov’s negotiations with Lokomotiv. Nikitin gave us the details in an interview.

“Radulov’s strength lies in his work ethic and thirst for victory”

— It’s nice to see people like Alexander Radulov joining Lokomotiv. How did you react to this?

– Well how? You understand that this transition did not happen without my participation, ”Nikitin laughs. “I have known Sanya for a long time, we have worked together and have always had a personal relationship. We met him and talked. They said we wanted to see from him how he could help Lokomotiv and how the team could help him. Yes, there is a common history here. I hope this works.

— Tell us how Radulov will help you and how you will help him?

– Mastery – definitely. The thirst for victory, which has always characterized Sanya, his work ethic… And I know how he trains. Of course, energy. And I’m not just talking about hockey, but also just about human emotions that can drive the game. I think we need all of that. I can’t say directly that we missed it. But there are only a few players like Radulov in our league.

At the same time, and we discussed it together, I think that Sanya must remain himself, of course, but be one of the enigmas of Lokomotiv. Because our team has grown, many guys are already in leadership positions. And they will have a good example before them.

On the other hand, our guys are quite independent. They have already proven themselves to be a driving force as well. And that can be an important factor. Because Sanka will soon be 38 years old. With all due respect, you can’t fool physiology. Therefore, we need a mutually beneficial process: Sanya and the team must be inseparable, in one bond.

“Sanya does not see his main task in personal statistics”

— Sergei Andronov, the leader, the captain, the leader of the locker room, left Lokomotiv. Do you see Radulov in this role?

– This is also a factor. Leaders are different and Andronov is a specific example of this. Seryoga has done a lot for Lokomotiv. Some people may not notice this. But I, as a person from the inside, know everything that Sergei made an invaluable contribution to the common cause.

Sanya is the opposite of him in terms of energy, he has a different energy. But these guys are united by the fact that they are ready to give everything for victory.

This happened at CSKA, where Andronov and Nikita Nesterov are two completely different types. However, when it came to victories, they became inseparable. The question is how to use these sticks, but that is already the task of the technical staff.

— A month ago, Lokomotiv also applied for Mikhail Grigorenko. We can’t say that Radulov was hired instead?

“I know Misha well, I understand his strengths.” A slightly different guy, and of course Radulov is not in Grigorenko’s place. Everyone is a great original hockey player in their own right. But here, how to play cards – if you don’t have a card, what’s the point of waiting for it? You try to win with another card. So we took Radulov’s map.

— Won’t Alexander get stuck in defensive patterns, as was the case with some Ak Bars stars?

— I certainly won’t talk about Ak Bars, but if we talk about Lokomotiv, we discussed it with Sanya. We were immediately united by the fact that we do not see the main task in increasing Radulov’s statistics. What Sanya wants and what we want is to win. And all other nuances fade into the background.

I repeat once again that Radulov will help us with his energy and talent. You can neither drink nor smoke it, this can only be done with a strong desire. At the same time, we have enough qualified hockey players who are already on the verge of becoming leaders.

It is very important to emphasize that we do not expect miracles from Radulov. We expect him to be himself. And that will be enough for him to come true.

“We will put in Radulov’s top three those who will help him in defense”

— Which Lokomotiv line could Radulov play in? With whom?

– Understand, I do not want to put anyone aside now or, on the contrary, place the responsibility on anyone. We already have theoretical glimpses of who he will play. But during the pre-season, all the “chemistry” is determined on the ice.

We just want to use Sanya’s strengths. And we will put in his top three the people who will help him on defense. At the same time, Radulov, in principle, cannot be overloaded with defensive functions. No matter how you feed the wolf, he always looks at the forest.

But there are certain rules, and I worked with Sanya – he knows me and I know him… We will find the right partners for him so that he can realize himself. And the guys next to him realize. Because when you play with such a great forward, you have to be not only smart, but also a savvy hockey player.

photo of Lokomotiv in the final against Magnitogorsk

— How much did you watch the final series against Metallurg (0-4)?

– Of course, we have watched this series again – and will watch it again. We were solving a complex problem, which was not enough for us.

So, I won’t say that we lost to Magnitogorsk on the road. But it took so much energy that there was none left for implementation. The functional condition was not great. And when we are already playing playoff finals, against an opponent in good shape, it is difficult to count on success in this situation.

So we find out where we missed something in functional training, which should have been done differently. Well, yes, there was a ten day break, but that’s just a fact. And there are purely tactical and also individual aspects on which we must strengthen ourselves. The ending gave me a lot to think about.

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Source : MatchTV

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