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5 декабря 2004 года. 
Russian culture shock for North American NHL vets // The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


KAZAN, Russia — They have played together in Canadian juniors, in the NHL and now Russia.

Tampa Bay Lightning stars Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier say they did not sign with Ak Bars Kazan for the money. They did it because they felt the league was the best in the world and it offered them the chance to play together.

Richards and Lecavalier represent the two most prominent North Americans to sign in the Russian Super League during the NHL lockout. Richards won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in June, and Lecavalier was named the most valuable player of the World Cup in September.

After less than a week in the country, adapting to the culture shock was not easy.

"Yeah, it's totally different," Richards said. "It's not like we got here and thought it was home. We were totally prepared for the worst we could possibly think of and that way it wouldn't be that bad. . . . Not to say it is the worst you could possibly think of. That's what people tell you to do."

Lecavalier said signing to play in Russia was not something the players entered into lightly. European leagues, including the Russian one, cap the number of foreign players a team can dress.

"I don't think we knew there was a team that could take two guys," he said. "We were both negotiating. We had an opportunity with Kazan. We looked at it carefully. We did our own research. We talked to some scouts who actually were in Kazan. We looked on the Internet."

The general manager for Kazan, Viktor Levitsky, confirmed that the process was a deliberate one.

"I personally negotiated the whole thing for a month and a half; there was a lot of hard negotiating," said Levitsky, who would not reveal salary information. The NHLPA publishes salaries of its players' NHL contracts, but Russian teams, like many of its country's businesses, do not operate transparently. Salary information is often speculative — Richards and Lecavalier likely are earning several hundred thousand dollars per month — or leaks out through unnamed sources in the Russian media.

Richards had the duo's first points in their third game, a goal and an assist. The 6-foot-4 Lecavalier, who appeared to be targeted by opponents with rough tactics, scored in his fourth game.

The language barrier is a constant battle.

"Now they understand what it's like for Russian kids who get in the locker room and everyone understands English and they don't understand a word," said Ak Bars teammate Ilya Kovalchuk, who then offered a joke. "We made a rule: In the lockerroom everyone speaks Russian. It's a rule. Like in the NHL."

On the ice, Richards appeared ready at times to head to the bench after a short 45-second shift, as he would do in the NHL. But Russian players, particularly linemate Alexei Kovalev, have a propensity for long shifts. Richards looked confused at times as to whether to change or stay on the ice.

Richards said coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov provides one-on-one instruction in English, but spoke to the team in Russian.

"It's still hard to communicate with the coaches," Richards said. "It's difficult to really know what they want. But it's getting better."

Teammates try to fill in the gaps, but some things can get lost in translation.

"Guys tell me, but it's different," he said with a nervous laugh. "I don't get all the info."

Страничка Ильи Ковальчука на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


3 декабря. Hockey lockout? Nyet! - ajc.com

10 ноября. Илья Ковальчук: "Не могу грести в одиночку" // "Спорт-Экспресс"

20 августа. Ковальчук подписал контракт с “Ак Барс”, Волчекнов и Жердев будут играть за ЦСКА.

7 августа. У Ковальчука украли заграничный паспорт. 

28 июля. У Ковальчука нет контракта как в США, так и в России. 

16 июня. Kovalchuk's deal not what NHL bargained - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

12 мая. Валерий Ковальчук: "Критикуя Тихонова, мой сын не вынес сор из избы" - Спорт-Экспресс

9 апреля. Илья Ковальчук: "Думаю, даже второе место Тихонов и Юрзинов посчитают неудачей" - Спорт-Экспресс


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