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Author: Alexei Shevchenko (
Translated By: Sergei Chveitser
Date: 01/19/2006
Nikolai Lemtyugov (St. Louis Blues NHL): I do not agree with Mikhalev

2006 U20 World Junior Championships Nikolai, you played against Dynamo in strange skates. They look white, but it looks weird.
N. Lemtyugov: Yeah, it's all coming from the World Championship. We weren't allowed to wear skates of a certain brand, so I found a way out.

You repainted them?
N. Lemtyugov:
Let's leave this as my secret.

Do you think about this past World Championship, or are your thoughts with other things now?
N. Lemtyugov: For 3 or 4 days, that was all I thought about, but now I'm trying to forget it.

Forget it? But you are the silver medal champion of the world!
N. Lemtyugov: I want to forget the final match, but they won't let me forget it. The media keeps writing nasty things.

N. Lemtyugov: In the last edition of one of the newspapers, they wrote that we should be ashamed of the silver medals. Personally, I don't think so.

Really, what's there to be ashamed of?
N. Lemtyugov: You see, if people writing this stuff didn't watch the game on TV but were there with us, they wouldn't be saying these things. To be honest, the interview that our coach Sergei Mikhalev gave really hurt me. He says some mean things about the guys.

He said that you broke down mentally in the finals?
N. Lemtyugov: He said a lot of things, and I don't agree with them.

But you've got to agree, that in the final, the Canadians just ran you over, intimidated you.
N. Lemtyugov: It's not that we got intimidated. But look at how the referees didn't count the goal and nobody paid attention. It's not the players who were supposed to go argue with the refs. There are people who must stand up for their team's interest. Everybody should be doing their own work. To be honest, I don't want to talk about this. As for the whole tournament, I think the players have nothing to be ashamed of.

It looked like in the final, you weren't ready to the physical hockey of the Canadians?
N. Lemtyugov: Why do you say not ready? We all knew what to expect and were preparing for it from the beginning. It would be more accurate to say that we lost to them in the physical department, but we prepared for the physicality. Nobody got scared, none of the players.

But did you analyze why nothing worked for you in the final?
N. Lemtyugov: The Canadians had a team, but we.... you know yourself how it was. I'm not surprised that the hosts finished first. They had a plan on how to win, and they stuck with it, they organized a wonderful tournament. It upsets me that now they say that we, players, didn't do something, didn't give our best. It's not true, we left everything we had on the ice.

Can you say that about yourself too?
N. Lemtyugov: Yes I can. This was my first junior World Championship, I tried my best, so this "silver" really doesn't shame me. The whole tournament was great and flew by very fast. Right now we are being criticized for the result, but don't forget, in a year, in 2 years, even in 5 years, they will be proud of our result. It will be the best.

So you are saying we will have problems in the future?
N. Lemtyugov: I will publically apologize if I'm wrong with my prediction, but I think in the next few years we can forget about results like this at the World Championships. To be honest, I feel sorry for the guys who will come home from next year's tournament because of what the media will do to them.

We are all maximalists.
N. Lemtyugov: Yeah, it's getting scary. A lot of countries who can play hockey just as well as us have already forgotten about medals at the World Championships, but we are always demanded to win gold. Everything should be looked at realistically, nobody will remember how we blew out all our opponents, but will remember about the 0:5 final.

And Malkin's unsuccessful play.
N. Lemtyugov: Ah, Malkin again. All everyone talks about is Malkin, Malkin... we have a team. Why does everyone keep writing "Malkin and the team"? He is a good player, very good player, but he's not the only one. All the problems begin fromt his. The media at the tournament only wrote about him. Will Evgeni go to the tournament? Will he play there? As if there are no other players on the team. Nobody waited for him there, we would've played without him too. I have nothing against Evgeni, it's not his fault that the media only wrote about him, but I want to say that the rest of the guys were puzzled. We are a team, it's not a fact that we would play worse without him.

In other words, this added attention to Evgeni played a bad joke on you.
N. Lemtyugov: How do you think we felt when we read after a win that only Malkin won? You know, in Canada they had a clip about the World Championship and they showed all players of team Canada in it. Every member of the team, they didn't single anyone out. Now do you understand why they became the champions and not us? It turns out they were all "stars", but we only had one. Even our coaches can be accused of this, they didn't conduct themselves properly. All attention to Malkin, and the rest doesn't matter. It's not good and I wouldn't want Malkin to be mad at me after this interview, I'm not blaming him for anything and just stating my opinion.

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