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Author: Yana Romanova
Translated By: Yevgeniy Belashchenko
Date: 03/25/2003
Alexander Naurov's Journey: From Kristal Saratov to Russian U18 Team

Alexander Naurov has been a player, who has been touted to have great potential by his teammates, as well as coaches as long as a year ago, when he was a relatively unknown winger, hidden deep in Lokomotiv’s junior team. Even then, several fellow teammates on that same Lokomotiv squad described him as one of best wingers in Lokomotiv’s system. This season he has ascended to Lokomotiv 2’s top line, along with 2003 NHL Entry Draft prospects Konstantin Glazachev and Alexei Ivanov, with whom he also skated on Russia’s U18 squad. This would be a success story for any player. However, considering that this gifted individual started playing hockey at the late age of 10, this success story is something very special.

First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where were your born and how did you get into hockey? What was your first team?

A. Naurov: I was born in Saratov. I started to play hockey at a fairly late age – 10 years. My parents were at first against it, since hockey is a rough sport, and injuries are possible. However, with time, they got used to it, and now are really into it, rooting for me and, of course, worrying. My first team was the local Kristal, where I spent four years, then I moved to Yaroslavl and have been playing here for the past three seasons. To be honest, I fell into hockey completely by accident – I was brought into it by a classmate who started playing earlier then me.

Were you playing forward from the beginning?

A. Naurov: Yes, I never really even thought, that I could see myself at any other position.

Do you like anybody who plays your position?

A. Naurov: Well, currently there are plenty of players, who are high class professionals and can serve as examples. I really like the game of Kovalev and Dmitri Vlasenkov (when I arrived in Yaroslavl – he stood out from the rest) [Atlanta Thrashers prospect – EB]. He is the one who currently serves as an example for me. I try to carefully observe him during games and learn something from it.

Who influenced the most you becoming a professional hockey player?

A. Naurov: I think, that it was all the coaches with whom I have worked with at one time or another. Each one contributed his part. I would like to especially single out my first coach – Anatoliy Dmitrievich Lukoshin.

How would you describe your game to readers, who know little about you? What aspects of the game do you feel you still need to improve upon?

A. Naurov: I believe it is a bit early for me to judge my own game. I need to work right now, try to improve in practically all aspects of the game. Probably, my short coming is my inconsistency – I can play very well, and then relax a bit. In any case, less talk, more action.

Tell us about your Super League debut?

A. Naurov: It hasn’t happened...yet! (laughing) When it happens – I will definitely tell you about it.

You sometimes practice with the main team. How is it for you, a young player, to play in the company of such veterans, as Kovalenko and Nemchinov? Do they help you at all?

A. Naurov: At first I didn’t really feel right, but then got used to it. Hockey is still hockey, whether it is with the second, or the first team – it’s still hockey. I regard the previously mentioned players with respect, and if the time comes for me to pass the puck to them, I do it as carefully and attentively as possible.

Who do you usually skate with while playing for Lokomotiv 2?

A. Naurov: On the second team, I play on the line with Glazachev and Ivanov. However, Kostya [Glazachev – EB], has lately practiced with the main team, so... Together we play some pretty good, exclusively combinational hockey. If you think about physical hockey, you can pressure one, but three players are tougher to hit. Pervyshin and Anikeenko play on the blue line with us.

Tell us about how the practices went for Lokomotiv’s second team?

A. Naurov: The first team accentuates scrimmages and combinations, while the second team builds strength and concentrates on the physical exercises.

What are your impressions regarding the level of hockey in Russia’s Super League?

A. Naurov: I would like to second the popular opinion that our Super League is only second to the NHL, and it’s not that easy to break into it.

How do you like Pan [Czech for Mr. or Sir – EB] Vujtek? Have you had a chance to make his acquaintance?

A. Naurov: Of course, I had a chance to meet him. I think he is a good coach. He values and maintains a good relationship with the players.

Tell us about your impressions of Lokomotiv’s hockey school. How are the coaches, the management, conditions for the players...

A. Naurov: The hockey school is one of the strongest in Russia, for the large part because of the conditions: in Yaroslavl, there are three bases for the players, and everyone has a place for practice and relaxation. It is a powerful and refined system, which required a large financial investment and not many clubs risk to put out such sums of money to develop their youth hockey system, unlike Yaroslavl.

Do you go to the gym?

A. Naurov: Of course, I work out on many machines, but I especially like the bike. I don’t have much time to ride the real ones, so I push the pedals on the one in the gym.

Tell us about your success at the international tournaments? Who do you play with, and how did it work out thus far?

A. Naurov: I became the champion of Russia three times in the lineup of Lokomotiv’s 84-85 team. With the ’85 Russian national team, we won the Five Nations tournament in Sweden, and took second place at the Four Nations tournament in Yaroslavl.

Can you tell us how you have developed over the past season?

A. Naurov: I am getting better bit by bit (smiling).

Have you ever been to North America?

A. Naurov: Three times: one time in New York, another time for a couple of friendly games and also to the Invitational Cup in Winnipeg.

Do you follow the NHL?

A. Naurov: As much as the press and television covers it. If we are talking about the clubs, I like Pittsburgh.

What do you enjoy doing outside hockey?

A. Naurov: We’ll go bowling sometimes. I also make time for books. Kostya Glazachev and I like to go around to many restaurants – we like to try different foods.

What has been the most important victory thus far in your career?

A. Naurov: It would be the victory over the Czech national team in Sweden. To begin with, we almost got into a fight during the pre-game warm ups, and then beat them by a sizeable score.

What do you strive for?

A. Naurov: To always win.

What are you missing today?

A. Naurov: Psychological stability in everything: in life and hockey.

You are eligible for the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and will likely selected this year. Have you thought much about it?

A. Naurov: I think it would be great, if I made it into the top 150 selections of the draft. By the experience of several others, I understand that draft position is not that significant. Even if you are at the end of the long list, if you want to play in the NHL – you will be able to earn a spot there. Currently the level of hockey is very high in the Russian Super League, I can play here as well, and not only can, but want to play in Russia.

- Yana Romanova

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