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Author: Seydamet Abrekov (MK In Lada)
Translated By: Eugene Belashchenko
Date: 07/04/2007
Grigorenko's Red Wings - Togliatti Forward is Leaving for America

2007 Russian Super League

Igor Grigorenko celebrating after capturing the gold medals at the 2002 U20 WJC
Igor Grigorenko (Detroit Red Wings) can be called a hero. This gifted forward, a great hope for the future of Russian hockey, almost died in a terrible car accident several years back. However, he found in himself the strength to return to the ice. He started to play well again and consistently score with Salavat Yulayev, Severstal and then his hometown Lada. Few believed that Girgorenko, at one point drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, will end up in America. But facts are facts, and during the regular season, Igor will try on the red and blue uniform of the legendary NHL club.

I. Grigorenko: I signed a deal with Detroit in Moscow during the World Championships. My dream to get to the NHL has come true and I want to secure a spot in North American hockey. It won’t be easy to make Detroit’s main lineup, but it is definitely worth a try.

Did Lada really let go its best goal scorer with such ease? Did they offer you to stay in Togliatti?
I. Grigorenko: My contract with Lada has expired. Nobody tried to block my departure. But they did say – If things don’t work out – you can come back.

Did the club settle all the salary and bonus financial obligations with Grigorenko?
I. Grigorenko: Not yet entirely
Did other clubs get in contact with you offering a contract?
I. Grigorenko: There were conversations, as I am planning to sign an insurance deal in Russia. I still need to figure out with whom.

Maybe it would have been easier not to leave the country, as some clubs pay even more than in the NHL? Especially since the taxes are so high in America…
I. Grigorenko: Money wasn’t the primary factor, I just want to play in the NHL. I will always have a chance to come back home.

You probably followed Detroit’s last games against Anaheim during the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
I. Grigorenko: Of course. The games ended up being great! Nobody gave anyone an inch – everyone battled to the end. That is the kind of hockey that I like and that is why I am going to America.

But you are a playmaker?
I. Grigorenko: I am prepared for physical hockey and do not experience any problems with it. Let them be scared of me over there.

How is your English?:
I. Grigorenko: Bad. I will be studying or always carrying a translator with me (laughing).

Is your family remaining home?
I. Grigorenko: Why? My wife and my child are coming with me and we won’t be apart.

But the club, as is known, is not offering you any living arrangements…
I. Grigorenko: No living arrangements and no food (laughing). I guess I will have to live in a hotel at first, until we find a suitable apartment.

Igor, you are in good shape, landed in a solid club. What about the Russian national team?
I. Grigorenko: I really want to play on the national team, but no one is calling me from there. Sadly, forward Igor Grigorenko (Detroit Red Wings) does not exist for that team.

Finally, we would like to find out your opinion regarding the current situation in Lada, when experienced veteran players started to depart, and some even filed lawsuits.
I. Grigorenko: It’s turning out to be quite ugly. The club is not paying its players on time. That is why many are thinking for themselves. If the club did not experience the financial difficulties, no one would have left Lada. It’s a team with traditions and many want to play for it. The most important thing is for the management to fulfill their contractual obligations. It’s unfortunate that Lada is ceasing to be a well off club. Now in Togliatti, only those players will play who will be hired at minimum salaries. Although, the most important thing is that the team will continue to play and raise young players. The good times will return though, I strongly believe in this!

- Seydamet Abrekov (the article was published on June 6th issue of the weekly MK in Lada publication)

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