For the first time in his life, Vasily Podkolzin spoke to the media in English and his skills with the local language were nothing short of impressive.
The 20-year-old rookie winger wanted to speak to the media and looked like he had been talking to them all season long. Podkolzin had the room laughing out loud with his quick-witted jokes and responses to questions like his favourite English word/phrase.
His favourite “word” was, “Bruce, there it is,” by the way…
Podkolzin opened up the media availability by asking the media to give him easy questions.
“This will be funny,” said Podkolzin with a laugh. “My English is still so bad. Give me simple questions please.”
Since it was the first time that we have heard from Podkolzin this season, he was asked what he had thought about the season that wraps up on Friday night.
“I’m still learning every day, English and hockey, as a player and a person,” said Podkolzin. “It’s really good, I am happy to be here. All old guys and young guys always support me and that’s really appreciated.”
Even with his limited vocabulary, you can see that Podkolzin wanted to continue to show that he is growing as a person. This is a different type of 20-year-old kid. Throughout his time in Russia, Podkolzin was constantly working with kids, aiding those in need of food or finding another way to volunteer in his home country. I’m sure things will be a lot different when he returns to Russia this summer but he continues to show that he is a great person off the ice. Podkolzin is a leader through and through and his commitment to being a role model is something that all hockey players should take note of.
Podkolzin did mention that he will be going back to Russia after the season concludes. It’s looking like that will be after a playoff run with the Abbotsford Canucks. Podkolzin was papered down to the AHL on the trade deadline day with the intention of him joining the AHL Canucks on what is expected to be a long playoff run.
“That’s good extra games for me,” said Podkolzin. “I told Bruce about it after the deadline and he said it’s good for you, good for your experience and you will be a better player after this playoff and extra games. We will see, I don’t know yet. We will talk with Bruce after the back-to-back and we will see. I hope I can bring good hockey for Abbotsford.”
One topic that came up multiple times was Podkolzin’s excitement about Bruce Boudreau. Podkolzin mentioned that he remembered meeting with Alex Ovechkin and Ovechkin told Podkolzin that Boudreau can help him develop not only as a player but as a person. Podkolzin went on to say that Boudreau is a great coach who he is happy to continue working with. Boudreau also got the Podkolzin stamp of approval when he said that he hopes to work with Bruce next season.
Podkolzin also had some fun at Boudreau’s expense when he said that his favourite English word is: Bruce, there it is.
All in all, the kid showed marvellously well in his first English media availability.
A few final pieces of information to note were that Podkolzin’s wife found it hard at first but has now made friends and is doing very well in Vancouver. Podkolzin said he and his wife enjoy spending time walking around Stanley Park and he really enjoyed Madison Square Garden and missed the chance to play in Chicago.
When asked if it has been fun this season, Podkolzin responded by saying, “yeah, 100%, yeah.”
“I’m really happy to be in Vancouver and to be in the NHL,” said Podkolzin. “I could be better for the team but I think I have hard work to do in the summer and be ready to be better for next season. I’m really happy to be here and have a great coach, great teammates and a great organization.”
The expectation is that Podkolzin will join the Abbotsford Canucks before their three-game playoff series kicks off on Wednesday evening with game two taking place on Friday and a potential game three on Saturday. If Podkolzin ultimately ends up joining the AHL team, the expectation is that he should the best player on that team. His upward progression in the later stages of the season shows tremendous potential in his game as he makes his way through his rookie season.
Heading down to the AHL is a great spot for him to continue to build his confidence up in North America before going home to work his ass off in the offseason. Let’s hope he continues to keep his English fresh when he heads back home because he has shown as much progression in his English as he has on the ice this season.
Let’s see the 20-year-old cook up some magic in the playoffs — a spot where he has shown to play his best hockey over his young professional career.
I also wanted to thank those who reached out in the comments or on social media through direct messages. I lost my stepmother on April 6th and my life has gone through hell and back over the past few weeks. I had to be there for my dad who had his life shattered into a million pieces out of nowhere. Luckily, he is working to build it back together but I needed to be there for a few weeks. I’m glad to be back doing what I love and once again, thank you to everyone who sent well wishes and positive thoughts my way as I was away from work. I’m back now and will hopefully be back in the swing of things!