Vasily Podkolzin is being asked a lot of questions about his rookie season in the NHL and he spent over an hour with Russian sports media outlet Sport-Express for a sit-down interview.
He spoke about a variety of topics from dropping the gloves, being sat out for a game, the team’s leadership, and much more. Let’s get out the ol’ Google translator machine and pull out the most intriguing quotes from the hour-long conversation.
We will begin when he was asked about being sat out as a healthy scratch in Chicago. Podkolzin spoke about how Chicago’s arena was one of the places he really wanted to play in and was disappointed he didn’t get to be in the lineup for that game on January 31st. Podkolzin is a mature individual and knows that the healthy scratch was to help him in the long run.
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“In Chicago, they told me that I do not play but at the same time, the decision was explained,” said Podkolzin. “Head coach Bruce Boudreau came up to me and explained everything. This is a common practice for young players when you sit in a box with a coach and he explains certain nuances and schemes to you from above… I lost confidence because I could not score for a long time. It’s clear that I’m only in my first season, but I still need to somehow learn how to cope with bad matches on a mental level. Emotions must be protected, but I have such a trait that if I make a mistake, I think about it for too long.”
Podkolzin spoke about how the season was tiring as he only played in 55 games during the 2020-21 season. He joked that his legs were getting heavy even with him only getting the low amount of ice time that he got. He also mentioned J.T. Miller getting 26 minutes of ice time a night.
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He was asked about having 14 goals and 12 assists in his rookie season. The interviewers talked about expectations that were on the rookie and how he is looking at going into his sophomore season as an NHLer.
“It is difficult to give an unambiguous assessment,” said Podkolzin. “On the one hand, only 26 points in 79 games is not too big numbers. But if you look at my playing time, it’s not all that bad. I can say that I could score much more than ten goals. If I converted at least a third of my chances, I would have more than twenty goals. I hope that after the first season, Vancouver will remember me for my game and dedication. Everyone says, however, that the second season will be harder. But all the same, the emotions from the debut will already subside, so it will not be easy. But I hope that in the summer I will work hard and come to the training camp fully prepared.”
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From seeing how hard the kid works, we’re pretty confident that he is going to show up to camp fully prepared.
When asked about Bruce Boudreau, the interviewers must have seen the 24/7 clip of him because they asked if Boudreau is still swearing in the locker room.
“Yes, maybe,” said Podoklzin. “But there they have only one swear word, everyone says it.”
I wonder what that effing word is…
Podkolzin was asked more about his coach and had high praise for Boudreau.
“He speaks to the point,” said Podkolzin. “Even if he raises his voice, it is precise because it is required at that moment. At the same time, he feels the mood very clearly. Can calmly defuse the situation. It became clear that Bruce had such a manner of communication. It’s still unusual for a Russian player, but it’s normal in the NHL. [In Russia] there is a distance between a coach and a hockey player, but in North America, it is a little less. For example, in the locker room, everyone calls him by name. I can’t get over it yet and I still say ‘coach’.”
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As the conversation transitioned into the personnel in Vancouver, Podkolzin was asked about some of his teammates. It began with J.T. Miller.
“Despite the fact that we have Elias Pettersson on our team and Bo Horvat — J.T. Miller was one of the best strikers of last season,” said Podkolzin. “He took on a very difficult role as a leader and justified it one hundred percent. J.T. does everything thoughtfully… It is clear that he is very experienced, but still enjoys his actions and constantly teases me.”
He was then asked to elaborate on a comment he made about Elias Pettersson a while ago. He has said in the past that being on the ice with Pettersson is hockey on a completely different level. He expanded on that quote when asked about it.
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“Elias often worked with me in training, and explained some points,” said Podkolzin. “But being on the ice with him is really different hockey. He just says, ‘do what you can, don’t worry. If you’re in a good position, you’ll always get the puck.’ By the way, here’s another story. If I don’t receive the pass, I get upset, I apologize. Petterson once asks me: ‘Why are you apologizing all the time?’ Well, I answer, it is inconvenient in front of partners that my mistake leads to a counterattack. He says ‘if you had the right idea, but something did not work out, then there is nothing to worry about.'”
He was then asked about his fight with Max Comtois of the Anaheim Ducks.
“I was ready,” said Podkolzin. “I’m not going to specifically look for them. I understand perfectly well that the level of fighting there is on a completely different level. But I will never back down if the situation arises.”
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The interviewer laughed and asked if Podkolzin would challenge Ryan Reaves to a fight.
“No chance,” said Podkolzin. “But anything can happen on the ice. I’m ready.”
Podkolzin was asked about the pressure of playing in Canada. He was directly asked if he felt the pressure.
“Undoubtedly,” said Podkolzin. “At the beginning of the season, when we were losing, they threw jerseys on the ice. But that’s probably the case everywhere.”
He was asked about Ilya Mikheyev and Andrey Kuzmenko joining the team and was glad to hear that more Russians were appearing on the team. He mentioned it was hard in the first half of the season being on his own and that everything was terrible with English. He also said that all the guys were great to him and invited him out for dinner every night on the road.
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“They perfectly understood that I was alone, with no one to talk to,” said Podkolzin. “But now everything will change.”
Now, with an NHL season under his belt, Podkolzin is ready to be a support system for Andrey Kuzmenko while pushing to be a top-six player in his own right. The Canucks have a lot of questions in their top-six group but the well-known answer is that there’s no shortage of talent on the wings. We will see all three of the Canucks’ Russians battling for minutes at this training camp and that should bring out the best in all three of the very competitive players.
That wraps up the Podkolzin interview with Sport-Express. It’s always good to hear from Podkolzin as he speaks so well about the game and his time away from the rink. We will have you covered if there are any more interviews that feature relevant quotes to the Canucks or how things are with Podkolzin.
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