|2008 Super League|
Evgeni Dadonov (Florida Panthers) is one of the up and coming 89 born right wings who has at one point being compared to Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings) in his understanding of the game and style of play. While Dadonov has a long way to achieve Datsyukís accomplishments, the young forward is on his way, already with more than a season of professional hockey under his belt with HC Traktor.† The young forward has also been a consistent member of Russiaís U18 and now U20 national squads and will represent his country in Decemberís U20 World Junior Championships.†† Our correspondent Alessandro Seren Rosso had a chance to conduct the interview with Evgeny in collaboration with the HC Traktor press department, who have been very helpful and accommodating, deserving a lot of the praise for their assistance.
Hello Evgeny. Tell us a little about your self.† Where were you born and why did you choose hockey?
Evgeni Dadonov: I was born in Chelyabinsk. †My older brother played hockey and of course it was him who decided these things during our childhood, not me. †At the age of three my father put me on skates and I learned how to play myself, at the yard rinks.
Who got you into hockey and what was your first team?
E. Dadonov : It was my father. My first and only team was ďTraktorĒ. I remember how I prepared for the first practice like it was today. At first I was coached by Raikin, then by Igor Viktorovich Kalyanin, who now works with the main team. During my graduation from Traktorís school, my coach was Boris Vladimirovich Samusik
Did you always play as a forward?
E. Dadonov: Yes. But at first I tried playing center, but was quickly transferred to the wing.
Is there a player in your position that you like, either in RSL or in the Superleague?
E. Dadonov: When I was growing up, I really Pavel Bure.
How would you describe your game to the readers who know little about you?
E. Dadonov: I play a fast-pace, technically-sound style of hockey.
What aspects of your game do you think you need to improve?
E. Dadonov: I would like to have a stronger shot.
Hockey for you is more work or life?
E. Dadonov: Itís definitely both.
What do you like to do in your spare time from hockey?
E. Dadonov: I try to rest and get back my energy. We have a tough schedule and so it is impossible to do something active during my free time. But when the season ends, I like to be more active. I play soccer, for example. †Also I like to go on vacation where there is a beach, like Turkey or Egypt.
How many years have you been in Traktorís system and how do you like it at the club?
E. Dadonov: I have been with Traktor for six years now. †As far as the clubís situation, itís getting better and better every year. Earlier the club had some problems, the club had a small budget. †Now everything is getting better.
Try to compare your skill level prior to this season and after its end.
E. Dadonov: I think I improved a bit during this past season.
Can you describe how you felt during your debut with Traktor in the Superleague?
E. Dadonov: I played my first game for Traktor in the High League [Russia 2] finals against Krylja Sovetov from Moscow during the spring of 2006. We were already ensured a place in the Super League [Russia 1] thus Gennady Fedorovich Tsygurov decided to give young players a chance to play. In the Super League I made my debut in Traktorís first game of the season. It was a game against SKA from St. Petersburg, on September 7th 2006. †Before this, we played a little against Super League teams in various pre-season tournaments, and it seemed to me that there was nothing tremendous and that I could rapidly overcome all of the differences. But the first official game really broke all of my illusions and preconceptions. The opposing defenders were really tough to face and it was hard to adjust for me.
Last season was a very hard one for Traktor. What happened? What was the team missing to get into the playoffs?
E. Dadonov: We didn't have enough luck on our side. We lost a lot of points because of goals in the last minutes. We were actually not that far from the 16th place and could have made the playoffs. †But I think this season will be different and we'll get into the playoffs.
In your opinion, do you think players need to develop in the High League before stepping on the ice in the Super League, or are they capable of debuting directly in the Super League?
E. Dadonov: After graduating from the hockey school a player needs to spend some time with the farm team. Overseas, for the passage into professional senior hockey, there are a number of junior leagues. We have the same.
Earlier this year you were a member of the national U20 junior team that competed at the Super Series against Canada. How would you compare this team to the previous U18 one that won the World Junior Championships title?
E. Dadonov: Iíd say that head coaches Mishat Fakhrutdinov and Sergei Nemchinov are very similar. The style, the character, even the training exercises and game tactics. If Sergey Nemchinov draws conclusions from the failure in the super-series, then we will be able to win future world championships in the future.
Can you talk a bit about your personal achievements with the national team during the past season?
E. Dadonov: In the beginning of the season I believe I did well, as I played a lot and scored too. I earned coaches' confidence and constantly played on first or second lines.
What happened in the super-series? Are the Canadian players actually that much better than ours?
E. Dadonov: Of course, we did not play well. Frankly, I did not think we could have won a single game. We must forget this fiasco now and to work to improve. We have so many games for national team in future and an opportunity to get better.
Do you follow the NHL?
E. Dadonov: Before I was drafted by Florida I barely followed the NHL. But now I will make an effort to do it.
Do you have a favourite team?
E. Dadonov: When I was a kid, I was a fan of Detroit and Colorado. Now I prefer Florida. (smiling)
Do you like the rough North American style of hockey?
E. Dadonov: Itís a game for true men. There's no way to escape the tough hockey in the smaller North American ice rinks. And that's cool with me.
Did you already meet members of the Florida organization?
E. Dadonov: Only with their Russian scout. †The conversation was about the need to study English and about inviting me to the training camp for the next season. There will be a camp for rookies and I'll need to be there. As I understood, Florida would like to see me there. However, we are still a season away and I will decide when the time comes...
- Alessandro Seren Rosso (RussianProspects.com)