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Author: Andrei Kuznetsov (Sport-Express Newspaper)
Translated By: Yura Zyuzin
Date: 06/23/2007
Alexey Cherepanov (New York Rangers): I heard that some NHL teams don't like Russian hockey players too much.

Alexey Cherepanov: I heard that some NHL teams don't like Russian hockey players too much.
By Andrei Kuznetsov of Sport Express
(June 21st, 2007)

Translated by Yura Zyuzin of Russian Hockey Digest

Top ranked Russian prospect Alexei Cherepanov (New York Rangers) shares his insights on the NHL entry draft prior to flying out from Sheremetyevo International Airport to attend the ceremony in Columbus.

Are flying out to meet the same fate as Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, and Malkin?
-I hope so. The draft is an important step, and I am in a great mood for it. After the pre-draft testing in Toronto I got a chance to rest for a few days in Omsk, and now Iím returning to North America via Moscow.

What do you recall from Toronto?
-The other guys from Russia who are getting ready for the draft and I didnít have much free time, we didnít really get a chance to see the city. We only managed a couple of walks through the downtown. We were staying not far from the airport, and the airplanes were constantly flying overhead as often as they do in Omsk. Yet in Omsk the airport is located in the city while in Toronto Ė a few kilometers outside of it. The tests were carried out in the hotel itself, and the interviews with representatives from NHL teams as well.

So you liked the city?
-The city is unique, not too similar to Omsk of course. It has a lot of skyscrapers, a vast amount of various stores. But we lived there almost as if in training camp Ė under a strict schedule.

What kind of tests did you have to pass?
-There were two categories of testing. The main testing, which checked the physical condition of players, and the psychological, where all sorts of questions had to be answered..

Which teamsí scouts did you get a chance to talk to?
-There were representatives of 20 teams. They talked to each player. The questions asked were different Ė about life, interests, goals, problems, about parents. All in all, about everything. I was interested to find out how various clubs approach young players, especially Russians. I heard that some NHL teams donít like Russians hockey players too much.

Who of the Russians did you get a chance to talk to?
-Apart from me there were five other guys from Russia Ė Karamnov, Seleznev, Dadonov, Mayorov, and Goncharov. Also there was Ruslan Bashkirov, who plays in one of the lower North American leagues.

Which of the teams that have a realistic chance of drafting you do you prefer?

-Iím not going to advertise my preference prior to the draft. Itís not known which club will select me, and whatís the point of offending people and spoiling relations with them? I will meet any decision professionally. It was in my childhood that I had dreams of representing, for example, Colorado, because they had an attractive jersey.

Is it imperative for you to be selected first overall?
-Without a doubt, the higher the draft the number Ė the more prestige. But itís much more important for me to be first on the ice. At least if I am selected, for example fifth, I wonít start playing any worse.

The fifth selection belongs to Washington, where both Ovechkin and Semin are stars. Moreover, the Capitals have the rights to your teammate from the Russian junior team Ė Lokomotivís goaltender Semen Varlamov (Washington Capitals)...
-As I said, I donít have a special preference. The positive of a team in the ranks of which there are many compatriots is that it is much easier to find yourself, to adapt to North America life. Washington is not a bad alternative in this regard, but Los Angeles also has quite a few European players s well. In the grand scheme of things, capturing the interest of any NHL team is a step forward.

Are you aware that a several clubs with high selections have expressed interest in North American players?
-That is their right, and to comment on their decisions is pointless. Maybe, they simply see more of the guys who play in Canada and the USA.

Yet among the players from Europe you are ranked first, but are outside the top five in the overall rankings. How can this fact be explained?
-The North American rankings are comprised of hockey players, who play in North America. There is nothing surprising about these players being ranked first, because they are constantly watched. They are all in sight. Impressions about European players are sometimes formed based on one tournament, which scouts attend. If some guy suddenly has a bad game for one reason or another, then his chances of the top spots in the draft decrease. Such an approach is wrong in my opinion Ė players must be watched throughout the course of an entire season.

Which NHL team do you support?
-In the finals I was rooting for Anaheim and was very happy that they managed to win the prestigious trophy.

What is being said in Omsk regarding the draft?
-Its summer right now Ė everyone is on vacation. Thus I wasnít able to meet and talk with a whole lot of people. Conversations mainly happen over the telephone. Everyone wishes me luck, cheers me on and assures me that I will be selected first overall. My very good friend always says that the rankings mean little, and that I have every chance of repeating the success of Kovalchuk and Ovechkin, who were selected first overall.

Nobody has any doubt that you will be picked first out of all the Russians. Who of your compatriots will follow you?
-Mayorov is rated eighth. He will most likely be the second player drafted out of Russia. But right now we can only guess, what is on the minds of NHL clubs.

Mayorov, unlike you, did not play in the Superleague. If this factor important when it comes to the draft?
-I think that it matters. In any case, I know perfectly well, that Maxim is a player with very high potential.

Have you decided where you will play next season?
-Yes, I signed a contract with Avangard and will continue to play in Omsk. I hope that we will win the championship (smiling).

To return to this past season, are you happy with it?
-A poor game for the national team at a tournament in the Czech Republic might prevent me from being the first overall pick. Itís too bad, of course, to not become the best junior player in the world due to one stroke of bad luck. If one is to judge by all the other tournaments and championships, then without a doubt, I had a good season. After all, I won three medals.

Will you attend the summer training camp of the club that selects you?
-I donít know yet. After the draft I will return to Omsk. Rest a little, and will start preparing for Avangardís season on July 10th.

Do you have any desire to ask the head coach of Avangard, Valeri Belousov, to let you attend an NHL training camp?
-Everything is possible. Itís depends on which team selects me. I donít even know if I will be invited to training camp, or if we will agree with the club that I will attend in a year.

Who of the Russian NHLers did you get a chance to speak with prior to going to the draft?
-When I was in Omsk, I spoke to Alexander Svitov (Columbus Blue Jackets) a few days ago. He plays for Columbus and told me about the team, about the city, how the draft ceremony is carried out.

Who else would you like to speak with?
-With Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers). I think that the conversation will happen soon, after all, we share the same North American agent Ė Jay Grossman.

Do you have a hero in the NHL?
-Jaromir Jagr.

Do you regret that you didnít get a chance to play with him for Avangard?
-Itís a pity, of course. But I was little back then. I attended all of Omskís games and enjoyed his game. His skill, shots, stickhandling.

You probably dreamed of getting his autograph as a child. When he played for Avangard, did you get a chance to get it?
-I really did dream of it before, but later it became somewhat awkward. Its one thing when a fan asks for an autograph and a whole different matter when the desire arises in a hockey player. Yet I probably should have convinced myself to approach Jaromir about it.

Who of the Russians is planning on attending the draft ceremony?
-Its quite possible that only Bashkirov and I will be there...

Related Player Profiles: . R.Bashkirov A.Cherepanov I.Kovalchuk A.Svitov S.Varlamov
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