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Mikhail Grabovski: ‘Let Ovechkin get ready’

Mikhail Grabovski: ‘Let Ovechkin get ready’
By Yuri Bakerenko

At the end of ice training, the only Belarusian hockey player playing in the NHL, Mikhail Grabovski, did not hasten to go to his locker. When all the other hockey players had gone for a rest and with only Alexander Kitarov working on the ice under the personal direction of Eduard Zankovets, the MiG-84 flew and flew. “He decided to starve the journalists. He probably, wasn’t ready to talk,” a colleague assumed. But Grabovski, being a professional from top to toe, could not abandon his responsibilities.

The trainer said that I do not have enough strength. Therefore I work harder, skate more.

I have good feelings since my return. It is pleasant to come home and to train with guys with whom I had played earlier on the home ice. It is a little hard right after a flight, but I think that every day I will feel better and better.

With whom would you like to play in one line? Perhaps with the Kostitsyn brothers?

If we appear in one line, I will play with them with pleasure. Not only with the Kostitsyn brothers, but also with many other guys: Stepanov, Ugarov, Koltsov etc. Let the trainer decide. It does not make any difference to me.

Many people perceive you as a messiah. Does it put pressure on you?

It is not the first year I return to the national team, so I am used to it. Now, of course, I have the home championship, local fans and pressure, but all this makes me stronger.

Do you have boldness?

Every hockey player dreams of playing at home in the presence of their own fans; all the more for me because I play far away from home. The forthcoming World Championship is very unusual and important for me. To tell the truth, I could not even fall asleep yesterday, because of the strong desire to appear on ice as quickly as possible.

Do you follow the play-offs in NHL or not, to avoid tormenting yourself?

Certainly, I follow. It is always necessary to watch how other teams play — it brings experience. Well, let the strongest win.
Has Glen Hanlon changed since the last time he trained the Belarusian national team? Perhaps he became more serious?
With age, we all become more serious as we gain more experience. Glen is not an exception. As a trainer, he has worked in many places, so he has become more serious. Although he is just as emotional as he used to be.

Is it comfortable working under the direction of this expert?

Glen is a Canadian trainer. It is very simple and comfortable working with him. I understand him without the need for translation, and receive great pleasure from the training process.

Is there any difference to be in the national team from when you were 25 and when you are 30?

Now that I am at home, I feel younger than I am. My relatives are nearby, my father brought me to training, as he did in my childhood.

Are you ready to play half an hour during a match?

Probably yes, I am ready. We will see. I know that Glen Hanlon trusts me. It is necessary to justify this trust.

Your wife and daughter have remained in the USA, whilst you have brought your son along. Why have you decided to split the kids?

It just happened this way. I thought that it would be hard for my wife to fly, while remaining alone with two children is also hard. So, let the son to be in company of men.

Have you invited friends from America to the World Championship?

Acquaintances will arrive, as well as relatives of my wife. Ovechkin and Kuznetsov will come and Chimera, Ward and Brouwer as part of the Canadian national team.

Do Canadians treat the World Championship as a second-rate tournament?

Well, no. For them it is nice to play for the national team. And those hockey players who do not play in the play-off, always participate with pleasure — except, perhaps for some superstars who are probably already somewhere in Las Vegas having a rest.

I imagine Ovechkin is very upset after his unsuccessful Olympic Games for Russia.

Yes, he expected more. On top of that, he did not get to Washington for the play-offs. The season was not particularly successful for him; and for me too. However, he and I have now a possibility to change something, by playing well in the World Championship. We will have our last game in the group against the Russians. We will be ready for Ovechkin. But he will need to be ready for us too.
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