Despite leaving the Vancouver Canucks early this summer for the KHL, Nikita Tryamkin’s found ways to keep himself in the news here since.
Just yesterday, Sport-Express correspondent Igor Eronko published an interview with the towering Russian defenceman in which Tryamkin doesn’t hold back. Tryamkin, who struggled just as much to adapt to Vancouver as he did the Canucks, goes into detail about some of what made the adjustment difficult in both facets of his life.
The interview starts with Eronko asking Tryamkin about his desire to come back to the KHL, citing Pavel Datsyuk’s admission that the draw to play in your home country is enticing. Tryamkin doesn’t shy from that comparison, agreeing that it’s a part of the draw.
As it concerns the potential for a return to Vancouver, it doesn’t sound like Tryamkin is in any hurry. When asked about the fact that the Canucks maintain his NHL rights at the expiry of Tryamkin’s three-year pact with Yekaterinburg Automobilist, he had this to say. Try and bear with the Google translation (more on that later).
“What, did not go up, did it? Well, what – I will not say that the ‘Canucks’ is a bad team or something. However, I can not say that I will go overseas in three years or, conversely, I will not go. Maybe I’ll have a brick on my head, and I’ll stay a fool. Let’s see how I’ll play by that time. If I need it, and we’ll get along under some conditions – everything can be. But this is still far away”.
It will probably help the Canucks, assuming they want Tryamkin back, that former head coach Willie Desjardins won’t be around. The Canucks fired the embattled coach at the end of a second straight bottom-three finish.
There are many players who didn’t gel with Desjardins, but few, if any, who had a seemingly worse relationship with the coach than Tryamkin. After coming to camp in poor shape, reportedly, Tryamkin struggled to get into the Canucks lineup, missing a significant portion of the first month in a series of healthy scratches.
Even when Tryamkin was in the lineup, he seemed to be on a short leash, and his ice-time reflected as much. Among regular Canucks defencemen, only Philip Larsen played less than Tryamkin’s 16:44 on a per game basis.
As the season neared its end, Desjardins was vocal about his want for more from Tryamkin on several occasions. It just wasn’t a good fit.
Does Tryamkin have hard feelings? I’d venture there’s no love lost between the two. To Tryamkin’s credit, he wasn’t too hard on Desjardins; he seems more bewildered than angered. Eronko asks if Desjardins is unpleasant, and Tryamkin responds with “he’s normal”.
And later in the interview, Tryamkin adds “I have many times been superfluous. Yes, not even a lot – almost always me. And did not understand why. I spend a good game, and for five or seven minutes to the end I’m put on the bench without any explanation. It was very strange”.
“I talked to [Desjardins] one on one. I could ask him anything. They even told me: “How do you ask such things?”. Well, what should I do? I train, work, that’s why I come to the coach, asking when I will play. I did not come to sit there”.
In fact, Tryamkin was far more conversive about his former teammate Nikolay Goldobin’s situation than his own. Tryamkin brings him up, seemingly unprompted, when asked about Alexander Burmistrov.
One player Tryamkin might have as an ally in his ongoing bewilderment with the death throes of the Desjardins era? Nikolay Goldobin. And Tryamkin brings him up, seemingly unprompted, when asked about Alexander Burmistrov.
“And so – in touch with Kolya Goldobin. I wonder how he will go in this camp because I’m for the Russians. I want our guy to be in the main team. He’s good, talented, fast”.
“I’m certainly not a coach, but, in my opinion, Kolya should be allowed to play. He is small, brisk, his hands are in order, and he knows how to score goals. Vaughn, in the first match scored, and after that he was sentenced to ten minutes. So what is this? Where is the logic? Especially since the team was finishing the season. Then, “Arizona” scores – he again put. He scores in Edmonton in the last game – we score together, went out in fact in one link, because in three games – he is again saddled. If a person does not play, how will he grow up? How do you understand that he can play?”
There are a couple more interesting notes after that. Tryamkin makes it clear that playing time was his primary reason for returning to Automobilist, and confirms that the Canucks had a two-year offer on the table for him to stay. He adds that it wasn’t weight, but Tryamkin’s conditioning specifically with which the Canucks were most displeased.
Tryamkin goes on to discuss the inordinate hype that accompanied his arrival and the Zdeno Chara comparisons. He speaks glowingly of the Sedins. It’s mostly standard fare.
The translation, courtesy Google, makes it difficult to pry much else of circumstance from the interview. Until the very end, that is, when Tryamkin fields questions about the city of Vancouver itself.
There was something of a controversy surrounding those comments, too. Noted sensationalist Slava Malamud promoted the article, citing Tryamkin as calling Vancouver a “junkie city”. The Google translation of the article says “drug addict city”.
Here are the comments, as they show up through Google translate. They come in response to a series of questions about Vancouver’s reputation as it relates to drugs.
“There is such. Addict, that’s really it. Everyone smokes grass everywhere. The city is all in smoke. There is still a street – I do not remember what is called. So there even in a car it’s scary to go. A lot of bad guys. They can not stand on their feet, but they still smoke without stopping. There is such chaos – a really devastated street. Cirque du Soleil in Vancouver came, my wife and I went, and for some reason we returned on this road. And in the evening there is a real life. After nine hours. Cool there ( laughs ). Life begins at night”.
“They smoke everywhere. There is not something that smells of grass – it stinks, everywhere is stinking. Okay this drug street, where these guys settle, but in downtown, in the center of the city stank the same. We lived on the tenth floor – even there, it used to smell. This is how much you need to smoke? It seems to me, it was possible to stick the receiver out of the window and inhale”.
I’d caution against lighting the torches and fashioning pitchforks. Eronko, who unlike Malamud has a great reputation for fair and balanced reporting, translates Tryamkin’s comments and provides the context in which they were made. Eronko even told me personally that there was no malice.
Nikita Tryamkin: Vancouver is a dope city. Everywhere you go it’s not just smell, it really stinks of weed #Canucks
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) September 24, 2017
Tryamkin meant it was a big surprise for him that smoking weed is so OK & popular in Vancouver. He actually liked the city and the fans
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) September 25, 2017
Honestly, it’s hard to argue with much of what Tryamkin has to say here. Vancouver does have a well-deserved reputation as a marijuana-haven. As someone who frequents Commercial Drive, I can attest to the almost constant smell of “grass” in this city. And yeah, the area he’s referencing, which I would think is the downtown east side, could be jarring for someone not familiar with it.
In general, you get the sense that Tryamkin wasn’t too keen on his time with the Canucks. The culture shock seems to have been significant. And he’s in no rush to come back here, though he hasn’t ruled out the possibility.
That all makes perfect sense to me.