Mikhail Grabovski: Maybe he got his license suspended?
- When during preseason you were able to finds the back of the net, but at the start of regular season you were in scoring drought from Minsk it looked like "eternal bad luck". Did you dwell on it?
- Absolutely no. There is nothing eternal in life and so is bad luck. I waited it out. When you're being trusted it's easier to deal with temporal difficulties. And they trust me in Toronto.
- Is this the biggest difference between Ron Wilson and Gi Charbonneau?
- No, there are others. Ron is more experienced than Gi, he has brought his team to the Stanley Cup final. Also, he has different approach towards players: in Montreal our relationships were strictly businesslike. Here in Toronto coach takes an interest in his players life besides hockey, can have heart-to-heart talk with you and it prepossesses you. Finally, what's also nice is that Wilson - proponent of euro style of hockey. I have no idea where it comes from, but being a North American he allows us to improvise more. Oh and I already said about the trust.
- They trust you so much that it looks they pick players "for Grabovski" now, and not cover holes with you as it was before.
- Perhaps. But this is normal because i'm playing center. Recently looks like coached found optimal blend of our line - Kulemin and Hagman playing wings. Before Kolya (Kulemin) recovered from his injury they constantly shuffled my partners. Now burst of our line's offensive production I directly link to Kulemin's complete recovery.
- Especially "burst" goes along with your "fondness" towards Carolina. Four goals in two games in three days - it's big. Where such a love for Hurricanes comes from?
- How you can not love them if the name of the city is female's name. (Grabs laughs)
- Wait a sec... I hear some romantic notes. So, very soon we should discover you're no longer promising single.
- Oh, come on... Let's agree: you haven't asked - I haven't answerd, ok? Let's talk hockey only.
- As you wish. Then shed some light on if it was possible for you to wind up in Toronto's farm club during your drought?
- Impossible. The contract was put in the way that they could only trade me to some other NHL team. I've got enough of two way agreements. I've had a dilemma this summer: whether I play in the NHL or I come back to play in Russia.
- To put it this way one must be confident about what he can do.
- I've never had any problems with that. Always felt there is nothing extraterrestrial for me in the NHL and I could play some good hockey here. I now I think I'm proving this.
- Oh you're sure do. From now on You can only improve uour previous, even though modest personal record.
- Yes, but I'm more happy about my other record. My seventeen-twenty minutes a game - this is what I craved. Now, when I have it what else do I need?
- Well, how about comfort in life for example.
- I'm perfectly fine. I always liked Toronto as a city and Toronto as an NHL club. And these are not regular words and not regular due to management. I said it before, when playing for Montreal and Hamilton. There is a friendly team climate in Toronto. It is so encouraging: I feel myself as I felt before in Neftehimik (Russia). Look, it's very reminiscent of what I've had there: experienced coach, young team, complete trust.
- You can tell me whatever you want, but I won't believe Saturday's game against Canadiens was regular game for you.
- Of course it was a special game for me. But not because I hold grudge against my former team. It's the opposite, I made my first steps in the NHL playing with them and only for that I'm grateful to my former teammates and Gi Charbonneau. But I've had the same satisfaction from victory as if it was any other game, except that we lost to them one month ago 1:6 and it has strengthen it a bit.
- Ok, now let's talk about the most important: what was between you and Sergei? Was his charge a surprise for you?
- Oh, and there you go... Why all reporters, whether it's in Canada or back home have clung to this episode? Right in that game Kostopolus sent our player Van Rynn to hospital for more than a week. But, I feel like no one talks about this really unpleasant moment comparing to our trash talk.
- Illegal hits are common in the NHL. But clash of two out of total four countrymen in the NHL we couldn't leave unnoticed. Why would Sergei charged into you so viciously?
- It was hit like any other hit and I don't hold grudge for Sergei. It's NHL - anything happens here. But why he's mad at me, I don't understand. Maybe, he got his driver license suspended, maybe he has problems with his girlfriend - I don't know. But there is no my fault in his problems.
- One of the versions says you've said something to him. What was that?
- I don't remember exactly, but it was regular trash talk as it happens in cases like that. I told him to look at the scoreboard and said he was too young to fight me. Andrei (his older brother) didn't want to sort out our relationship as he's older and controls himself. But if someone so eager to engage into fist talk, we can always meet after season end in Minsk.
- Another thing you've said is the "I have no friends in Montreal". Also, some say Ponikarovski translated it the wrong way.
- I doubt it. Alexei's English is very good to be it this way. Other thing is reporters interpreted my words incorrectly: I meant I have no friends among opposing team on ice.
- Why you're using partners to translate it for you? Your English is not so good?
- Not so bad, but it's not ideal either. When one on one I speak decent, but right after game you colleagues surrounded me and I had to ask for my teammate's help.
- I guess you spend more time with Russian speaking guys after hockey games.
- And it's a wrong guess. This is a beauty of Toronto - they don't have team divided in groups by some features. We're all together. And it's good as my English is getting better because, for example, during road games I share the hotel room with Dominic Moore.
- By the way we're not disturbing him now with our conversation? It's 1am in the morning.
- No, it's ok. He went to visit his local relatives.
- You shouldn't feel yourself lonely in Toronto also because, If I'm not mistaken, here is the biggest Belorussian population in Canada. They have even Belorussian church.
- Seriously? I didn't know. I've heard they have many Ukrainians here, but I haven't met Belorussians so far. And I don't feel lonely at all. I have my relatives in Toronto too. My dad's cousin lives here. He's is my guide to the city.
- So, I see you're feel yourself comfortable here. What do you see in your future?
- Fight for the playoff berth. They don't demand it here right away as we're building new team. I hope to contribute. The more I contribute - the better.
Sergei Kostitsyn: and what happened?
- Sergei, what happened between you and Grabovski?
- And what happened?
- Many blame you for this hit against member of national team.
- So what, let them blame me. Am I supposed to kiss him every time I meet him on the ice? We play hockey here... I play tough against anybody, why should I make exception for Grabovski? They all the same for me on ice. I think that was a clean body check. And this is his problem he did not keep his head up. It's fraught with serious consequences in the NHL.
- How do you explain that emotional moment, when you wanted to fight you former teammate?
- It just happened the way the game unfolded. And fight?.. I was ready to fight, but knew Grabovski wouldn't want it.
- This conflict can have some consequences for the team Belarus micro climate. Maybe you talked it over after the game?
- No, I don't talk to him.
- Supposedly, you had bad blood with Grabovski from long time ago?
- No, no bad blood. I'm not mad at him and never was. I have no relationship with him.
- What can you tell more about the game against Toronto?
- That was the worst game of Canadiens since the start of the regular season. We forgot it right when it's ended. In all other games where we lost we looked much better. In general, I'm happy, as the team plays good hockey and has won 9 out of 13. That's a good result. If only we could win those two road games against Columbus and Toronto.
- Why you couldn't finish road trip better?
- We started to make too many trips to the box and were punished for this. Besides, the whole team was unorganized against Toronto. We came out thinking it was an easy win.
- Are you happy with your start of the season?
- Of course I'd like to have more points by now. Probably there is a reason everybody says second season is much more harder then your first one. But it's hard for me to tell the reason why. I wouldn't say the opponent knows my game and keeps me in check every time I step on ice. And training camp this year was as hard as last year's and I had to prove that I'm a regular on Montreal.
- How do you like to play with Lang and Latendresse?
- Fine, I do not complain. Lang is a veteran player, very good center with good hockey sense. Latendresse was recently transferred on our line since Higgins recovered from injury.
- Does Lang try to teach young players like you and Latendresse?
- No, Robert understands that players in the NHL already know how to play and are able to play hockey.
- Don't you regret that you don't play with your brother on the same line, only from time to time?
- Of course I feel better playing with my brother. Last season we played together alot. This year it doesn't happen that much. Why? This is prerogative of the head coach and only he is in charge of who plays on what line. Players in the NHL do not advise to their head coach with whom they like to play. Coach keeps neutrality towards any of his players, there are no favorites for coaches. This is one of the distinction between North America and Belarus or Russia.
- Did it help to start season early playing for Belorussian cup?
- You have to start early to be ready for long NHL season. And the experience in Keramin (hockey club in Belarus) was very helpful. The level of hockey back home did not disappoint either. We had to demonstrate our best hockey.
- It would be nice to start season with Belorussian Cup and finish it with the Stanley Cup
- Of course, this is my main goal. We have a good shot at the Stanley Cup this season.
- Canadiens celebrate 100th anniversary. Does management demand the cup?
- Management, of course, would like to celebrate this even by winning Stanley Cup. But no one puts pressure on players. There is no such pressure that is usual in that kind of situations in Belarus or Russia. Because life doesn't stop at that.
- And what do your fans and Canadian press demand?
- After last season's win in the Eastern conference Montreal is being viewed as on of the main candidates for Stanley Cup. Last season we had young team. Today everybody became more experienced, tried the taste of playoffs. The loss against the Flyers long time forgotten. We all think about this season now.
- How is Andrei doing after vicious hit from Sauer?
- Pretty well. He missed couple of games and came back.
- How was it for you to play without him?
- It's ok, I was doing my job and did not try to compensate for his absence.
- How do you feel you already regular in Montreal?
- And this is the question you have to ask coaches and players.
Perhaps. But this is normal because i'm playing center. Recently looks like coached found optimal blend of our line - Kulemin and Hagman playing wings. Before Kolya (Kulemin) recovered from his injury they constantly shuffled my partners. Now burst of our line's offensive production I directly link to Kulemin's complete recovery.
I guess Kulemin's doing for Grabs what he did for Malkin. Hopefully Grabovski won't have to leave to alllow Kulemin to shine.
Quite impressed with Grabovski's interview. I particularly liked the credit he gave to Kulimen and the explanation he gave regarding his comment about having friends still on the Habs (or the lack thereof).
As you wish. Then shed some light on if it was possible for you to wind up in Toronto's farm club during your drought?
Impossible. The contract was put in the way that they could only trade me to some other NHL team. I've got enough of two way agreements. I've had a dilemma this summer: whether I play in the NHL or I come back to play in Russia.
To me this means one of two things: the translation was a bit off and he meant that he'd have to pass through waivers in order to be sent down and he thinks he wouldn't make it through. Or, the Leafs have promised to deal him rather then send him to the Marlies if it came to that.
Because teams never think one game would be an easy win.
Anyway, nice interviews.
Good players don't. I play provincial soccer and I have never heard or seen any of my team mates go into any game, regardless of the competition, thinking it will be easy. Maybe in house league they do that, but when you play competitively it should not (and generallay doesn't) happen. It's like going into a test unprepared because you assume it's going to be easy. Idiots might do it, but top students won't.
Grabovski gives very good interviews from what i've seen....very professional but not cliche- filled garbage. I am really happy with how he talked about the team dynamic in the dressing room and how comfortable he is in Toronto.