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Author: Svetlana Kar (RP Exclusive)
Translated By: RussianProspects
Date: 01/12/2004
Inteview with Ak Bars forward Denis Loginov (Atlanta Thrashers)

One of the least known names on Russia’s squad at last April’s U18 World Junior Championships was that of Denis Loginov. Much of Loginov’s obscurity is due to his club, Ak Bars Kazan, who are known for spending large sums of money on premium veterans rather then building the club’s core through its’ hockey school. Nevertheless, the young prospect made enough of an impression during international competition to be drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Last summer, the talented player earned a promotion to Kazan’s main lineup and has spent most of the 2003-04 season with the Super League club. RussianProspects correspondent, Svetlana Kar, caught up with Denis Loginov in Kazan.

Tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born, how did you get into hockey?
D. Loginov:
I was born in Kazan. My mom took me to play hockey when I was five.

What was your first team?
D. Loginov:
My first team was SDUShOr. This stands for Athletic Youth School of the Olympic Reserve.

Did you always play as a forward?
D. Loginov:
Yeah, I was a center right from the start.

Is hockey more of a job or life for you?
D. Loginov:
Hockey is a job for me, but it is the job that I can’t live without.

Do you like any player, who plays in the same position as yours? For example, in the NHL or the Super League?
D. Loginov:
In the NHL, I like the Swede Mat Sundin. I really like his strength and aggressiveness during the games.

Who provided the most influence on you becoming a professional hockey player?
D. Loginov:
I had a really good coach, but he died when I was little. This was Vladimir Georgivich Kryukov. When I was 16, coach Gusev started to work with me. He provided me with a lot of what I needed to become a decent hockey player. Of course, I don’t consider myself that yet. I trained with him for two years.

How would you describe your style of play to the readers who know little about you?
D. Loginov
: I enjoy smart, graceful and physical hockey.

Which aspects of your game, do you believe you need to improve?
D. Loginov
: The coaches tell me that I am doing well. The main things I need to work on are skating and maneuverability.

After going through the club’s ranks, Denis Loginov made his Super League debut with Ak Bars Kazan in September of ‘03.
How is your first season in the Super League going thus far?
D. Loginov
: So far it has not been satisfactory. I played only 7 matches so far. I think I played ok, but could have scored and missed a bunch of scoring chances. Not long ago, I scored my first Super League goal!

Can you share with us, what are the most noticeable differences between the level of hockey in the Super League and that of the first league/junior national team?
D. Loginov
: Here everything is much faster. Here play grown professionals. On the junior team, guys my age play at my level of hockey. Hockey is definitely more difficult in the Super League.

Denis – during the preseason and the beginning of the season, you skated fairly often on Kazan’s fourth line. What happened? Why haven’t we seen you on the ice lately?
D. Loginov
: Because we have very strong centers. The coaches are still hesitant to put me in the games, because playing center is a big responsibility. They tell me that I need to improve my skating, and that is why I haven’t played much yet. Right now, they put me out there on the left wing.

What goals did you put before yourself prior to the start of this season and how do you believe you have done thus far?
D. Loginov:
I need to play more, score and needed to earn a spot on the U20 Team Russia at the World Junior Championships. It hasn’t started yet, as it will be held in December. Unfortunately, I haven’t received an invitation to the training camp yet. I hope that next year I will get more ice time with Ak Bars Kazan, start scoring and will earn an invitation to the U20 national team.

How have you improved over the past season?
D. Loginov: I gained more experience, skill and improved my vision of the ice.

Ak Bars does not have many young player in the lineup (younger then Alexander Drozdetsky and Denis Denisov, who are both ’81). Can you share with us your impressions about this team? How are the practices held? How are the young players regarded? Please talk about the quality of the coaching staff.
D. Loginov:
The practices are very intensive and interesting. The team is very good. The management picked up a lot of good players, but it is not quite a collective yet. I think that in the future we will play more like a unit. Vujtek and Kotov are both very good coaches.

That’s good that you mentioned Vujtek, what are your impressions of the club’s new head coach?
D. Loginov:
Everything is fine with him!

Are there enough veterans on the club to teach the next generation of players?
D. Loginov:
Yeah, I am being taught by Zavyalov. He observes my game, advises me, criticizes me if I am not doing something right, and sometimes calls me names, to encourage me to become even better. I really appreciate his help!

How do you think Ak Bars will do this year?
D. Loginov:
I hope my club continues to play well and everything will be fine. I also hope that our team will be first, because it now boasts a lot of young players.

What are your plans for next season?
D. Loginov:
I plan to continue to play for Ak Bars. I aim to play better, more stable, and assume a more leading position in the lineup.

You spent the last season playing for Ak Bars Kazan’s junior farm team, Ak Bars 2. What did you aim to accomplish last year, and do you believe you succeeded?
D. Loginov:
Yes, I played pretty well, scored, accumulated points. The most important thing was that I earned a spot at the (U18 – RussianProspects) World Championships.

What was your role on the farm club? Did you get a lot of ice time in odd man situations?
D. Loginov:
I do not like Cherentsov, the coach of our junior farm team. He did not let me play often. I could have earned a lot more points. I believe he did not like me at all.

Last year you were the only Ak Bars player chosen to represent Russia at the U18 World Junior Championships. Why were you the only one? Did you already know the other players on the national team?
D. Loginov:
Because there is no other players my year here that are of the same level. So, I was the only one from Kazan, who came to play for the national team. I had a chance to meet the guys when I was playing at a regional tournament for Team Povolzhe [River Volga region – RussianProspects].

In April of 2003, you went with Russia’s U18 squad to Yaroslavl for the U18 World Junior Championship. You left the tournament with the bronze medals. Can you share with us your impressions of the tournament and your role on the squad.
D. Loginov:
I was very happy that I made the team. Though, we did not take first place, I was very pleased.

Did it help you to play in front of your own fans, or did their presence pressure you a lot?
D. Loginov:
During the first game I was really shaking. But, still, it is better to play at home. The fans really supported us.

Which opponent was most difficult to play against?
D. Loginov:
We needed to play seriously against every opponent. But, the Czechs were probably our most difficult opponent.

Who did you play with on the same line? Could you describe the performance of your line at the U18 WJC?
D. Loginov:
I played with Petrov and Dubinin. We had seven defensemen on the team, so there was never the same defensive pairing behind us. Dubinin played very well, but Petrov is still very young and small, and played weakly.

Can you recount for us the last couple of games against the Slovaks and the USA?
D. Loginov:
Unfortunately I did not play against the Slovaks, as Shafigullin took my place in the lineup. We won against the Americans for the third place.

Last year you were drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers 203th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. What were your expectations from the draft? Where did you think you would be selected and were you happy with where you were picked?
D. Loginov:
Yeah, I was picked 203rd overall. I thought I would be picked in the third of fourth round. I guess that means that is an indication of how badly I play. In any case, I thought I would be picked higher. Overall, I am happy, that I was picked at all. My agent also told me that he was very happy that I was picked. If played, for example, in the Moscow region, then my number would have been significantly higher. No one comes here to Kazan, because they know that the junior farm team here is weak. We get very few scouts here.

Many players came to Nashville for the draft ceremony, but you weren’t among them

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