Tuesday’s SovetskySport published an interview with Russian national team netminder and Washington Capitals’ 2006 first-round pick Simeon Varlamov. Russia had just played Switzerland in an exhibition in Canada in preparation for the World Championships this week. Russia won 6-2, and Varlamov was in goal. Portions of the interview include:
“At the team meeting before the game Bykov wished me a happy birthday, and told me that I would start the game against Switzerland. I consider it to be a present,” Varlamov said, smiling. “I wanted to post a shut out to make this birthday more memorable. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
SovetskySport: How did you feel playing in a smaller [comparing to the IIHF standard] rink?
“I was not comfortable. I tried to play the puck behind the net a lot and made mistakes, because I kept bumping into the boards and the puck kept getting stuck between my skates. The rink was very different for me in Trois-Rivi?É¬®res.”
How many times have you been to Canada?
“Four times. The last time I was here was with the Juniors team for the Superseries of 2007. It wasn’t pretty . . . ”
And what can you say about the 0-8 in the final of the World Juniors?
“Very embarrassing. If I were to lose with such margin I wouldn’t talk to anyone for a week. Terrible. Dreadful.”
Maybe this is the difference between [Russian] hockey and Canadian?
“Perhaps. There are very good junior leagues over here. Players from them go straight to the NHL.”
Will you go straight to the NHL?
“I know that the Washington Capitals are waiting for me. They keep in constant contact with my agent. I am planning on going to North America. It will be very tough to break into the first team. But I will try my best. I am even ready to spend a year or two in the AHL.”
Two years? Ilya Bryzgalov told us that the pay in about $50 thousand per year.
“I know how much players are making in the AHL. But I am not interested in money right now. I could stay with Lokomotiv, where I was offered a great contract. Nevertheless, I have already told the management and fans that I will be leaving. I am not hiding it.”
Can a 20-year-old go straight to the NHL?
“There have been precedents. For example, 21-year-old Carey Price in Montreal — he is my idol. Or Marc-Andre Fluery from Pittsburgh. They are unique even by NHL’s standards.”