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Author: Spartak Fans (RussianProspects Exclusive)
Translated By: Alexei Belousenko
Date: 08/16/2005
Ilya Zubov (Ottawa Senators) Answers His Fans

Ilya Zubov sat down with Spartak Moscow's press correspondent and answered a series of questions from the fans of his new club. The young forward signed a three year deal with the RSL club this summer, moving away from his home in Chelyabinsk, where he has skated in club Traktor's system his whole life.

Ilya, you are product of the Trakto Chelyabinsk hockey system. Last year Traktor was very close, but failed to earn a promotion to the Super League (Russia 1). Do you feel guilty leaving Traktor behind in the High League (Russia 2)?
I. Zubov: Nope, I don’t feel guilty. I am a young player, and my goal is to play hockey and get better. As a matter of a fact, I didn’t even play in the playoffs, because of certain problems with the coach. All of my friends and fans wished me good luck.

Do you think the rivalry between Traktor and Mechel Chelyabinsk is comparable to any rivalry in Moscow? For example, Spartak- Dynamo, or Spartak-CSKA.
I. Zubov: I can’t really compare because I haven’t seen what’s going on during Spartak-Dynamo or Spartak-CSKA games. But when Traktor plays against Mechel, the entire city watches the hockey game. Traktor has more fans than Mechel.

What is the situation in Chelyabinsk’s hockey school system? Is it as successful as before?
I. Zubov: The hockey schools in Chelyabinsk are as well as established as before. However, the squads are formed, but then the best players are taking by the best clubs.

In your opinion, what sport gets the most attention in Chelyabinsk?
I. Zubov: Special attention is paid in Chelyabinsk to basketball, as the city’s mayor plays the game and really likes the sport. Regarding soccer and hockey, hockey is the prevalent sport. In the old days, Traktor was considered a very good team, which had many fans.

Ostroushko transferred with you from Traktor to Spartak. Has this helped you acclimate to the new club?
I. Zubov: Of course, it was easier with a familiar face on the team.

Ilya, is your father’s hiring as a coach of Spartak’s junior farm club related to your signing with the club?
I. Zubov: When we were called to join the club, the conversation was always about both of us, meaning that the club wanted to hire him as a coach. After all, he has been in hockey all his life.

Are you concerned that Spartak will be forced to battle for the mere 14-18 places in the Super League rankings?
I. Zubov: Why do you think we are going to fight for the 14-18 places? I believe, we’ll end up among the leaders. Our team continues to become stronger and stronger during this preseason.

What is the primary goal placed in front of the team by the coaching staff? What are your personal goals for the upcoming season?
I. Zubov: Thus far, the coaching staff hasn’t announced our goal for the upcoming season. I’d like to help our team finish the season as high in the standings as possible.

In today’s interview, Spartak’s head coach stated that the club is currently fielding five or six lines. Which line do you play with?
I. Zubov: Right now we don’t have stable lines. We are rotating all the time.

What do you know about Spartak? Why did you choose this specific club?
I. Zubov: We sat down with my agent, and we decided that Spartak is was the best option for me.

Do you know anyone from Spartak?
I. Zubov: So far, I don’t really know anyone all that well. Probably, I keep in touch the most with Mikhail Yakubov, as we both work with the same company IMG. But, I try to get along with all of the guys. I also knew the young '87 born Romanovsky and Kucheryavenko.

How do you regard the fact that Spartak is coached by individuals who are not well known, but are the products of the club.
I. Zubov: I think the fact that our coaches are not well known is a good thing. We are like one big family. We all press towards to reach the same established goal.

How long is the length of your contract?
I. Zubov: My contract with Spartak is for three years.

Have you received any other offers prior to choosing Spartak?
I. Zubov: I received offers from several Super League (Russia 1) clubs, but I picked Spartak, because it was my best option.

What you choose, to sit on the bench in Avangard for 500 thousand USD or to constantly play with Spartak for 50 thousand?
I. Zubov: I would pick Spartak. Money is not as important at my age. The main goal is to play as much as possible and gain experience.

What if during the transfer period you received a better offer from another club, would you nullify your deal with Spartak? Overall, how do you regard the responsibility of a player to carry out all contract obligations?
I. Zubov: I will remain in the lineup, because I have a signed contract. I like Spartak. I think quite the opposite, good players will strive to join our team. Regarding a signed contract, as a player, as well as the club, both parties must completely fulfill their obligations.

What kind of a relationship do you usually maintain with fans?
I. Zubov: When I played in Chelyabinsk, I visited the team’s web-site regularly and talked to the fans, I think that the fans are the sixth skater on the ice. Their support is definitely irreplaceable.

You are the leader of Russia’s U18 squad, and is ranked fairly high by the scouts. What do you think about your NHL potential? When do you plan on going over to North America?
I. Zubov: I’m not yet ready to play in the NHL. First I have to become stronger and more experienced by continuing to play in Russia. I think I’ll wait a couple more years before I’m ready to go.

Moscow is a big city with a lot of temptations (clubs, discos and many others). Do you fear that you might get lost, and veer away from hockey?
I. Zubov: Sure, I like to go to the night clubs, but not during the season. This diverts me too much from hockey.

You are a center, but can you also play wing?
I. Zubov: I can play as a left winger, as a right winger, in the center, and in the net

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