Capitals’ Varlamov on the NHL Experience

So as we watched Thursday night’s preseason game in the press box, our friend Dmitry Chesnokov said, “I’m going to call Varlamov [who was watching the game in street clothes], find out where he’s sitting and go talk to him.” Well that chat is now published in Sovetsky Sport this morning, and we are happy to present the English translation here:
Simeon, please tell us about your first preseason game in the NHL, away at Carolina. This was not a scrimmage or the rookie game . . . this was a real game.
Yes, Viktor Kozlov told me that 70% of the Hurricanes’ players were real NHL-ers. I saw this too when I started warming up. I was supposed to have been nervous, but quite the opposite happened — I was happy and smiling. I was circling around the ice with my head up looking around the arena and trying to grasp the atmosphere inside. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. My dream [of playing in the NHL] came true only in part. [To make it complete] I have to play an official game in the NHL.
Didn’t you get nervous during the game?
Not at all. I enjoyed every second I spent on the ice, the fact that there are so many well known players here and against some of them I was playing that night. I did get nervous, but not before the game, but about three hours before. I was a little overwhelmed. But when I started warming up, went out on the ice, this nervousness went away somehow.
Did any of your relatives see that game?
No one. But everyone is well aware of how I did. I played in the first period and did not concede a goal after all 20 shots I faced.
Viktor Dovgan and Simeon Varlamov - photo courtesy of Sovetsky Sport
This is a lot, even in the NHL. And why were you pulled?
I was scheduled to play half that game. But a small injury got in the way – I pulled my groin. I asked to be replaced myself. It was a tricky situation. If I had played another 10 minutes I would have risked to miss a lot of games.
I hope there is nothing serious!
Don’t worry. A minor strain. But there is nothing insignificant when it comes to health.
What are the differences of the North American style of play?
The speed is a lot greater than in Russia or in training camp. The passing game is also a lot quicker. And players think a lot more quickly on the ice. Everything happens in an instant: a pass and then a shot from any position. Players can shoot even from the boards, and the puck will most certainly fly toward the net. A goaltender should not get out of the crease too far. It is imperative to see all five players of the opponent. If you lose one, there will be problems.
Viktor Kozlov helped me a lot to get ready for the game against Carolina. I was so impressed with everything, even when we arrived at the airport and got out of the bus. There was the plane, no security checks, no customs. We got on board and sat in these huge seats that were like beds we could sleep in.
Right away I forgot about the equipment bags. They were delivered straight to the arena. Players don’t have to carry them around. This is the NHL system.
And did you carry your equipment around yourself in the Superleague?
Yes, until Lokomotiv started taking care of it. And here we have all our sweaters cleaned and dried and placed in our lockers. Players don’t have to think about these things. You come in the next day and everything is ready for work. Everything is perfect, no blemishes. And that’s why the NHL is called the best league in the world. Everything is organized first class. Players are elite. That’s why everyone wants to play in the NHL, and I am no different.
You are lucky to come to this team where there are so many Russians.
I agree. I arrived in Washington on September 8th. There were no Russians here for the first three or four days. I panicked a little bit. I didn’t know what to do because my English is not that good. It was tough… But when Alex Ovechkin arrived it became so much easier.
Alex and his family treated me so well. Please thank him, his mother, his father and his brother through your newspaper. I can come to the Ovechkins’ house for dinner any time and will feel very welcome. I spent a lot of time at his house and no one [made me uncomfortable]. Although, perhaps, if there are strangers in the house, it might bother a little.
Is Ovechkin like an “uncle” to you? He is three years older than you are.
Well, not an uncle… But Alex is an idol for a lot of fans. Megastar! At the same time he is still a very good person.
Did you go to the party that SovSport wrote about, where Ovechkin was impersonating a rock star singer?
Only the first team was invited to go there. Maybe I do not deserve it yet. [Smiles.]
You even use a different locker room . . .
Well, yes. There is a locker room for rookies. I hope this is a temporary situation. If I make the first team then I will move to the main locker room. By the way, Lokomotiv had the same system.
What do you think of your chances of remaining in Washington [with the first team]?
The competition is high within the team. And no one guaranteed me a spot. But my chances are 50/50. The coaching staff will make that decision. I think I will remain with the Capitals at least for a few days. And possibly I will play in a couple of preseason games. Maybe…
A lot will depend on how my groin will react. I will soon be back to full strength. But I don’t know if the coach will give me another chance.
My goal is to play in the NHL. I fight for that spot at every practice. I fight like I never have in my life. But if I am sent down to the farm club it won’t be the end of the world. I will keep working. And live my NHL dream.
Let’s take this as a milestone: the preseason game Washington will play against Philadelphia. It might be a great game.
Deal. I would really want to play in that game.
Where are you staying now?
At a hotel for now. How it happens here is: If you are set to stay with the first team, then someone from the coaching staff comes up and says: “Go get yourself an apartment in the city.” But no one has approached me yet . . .

This entry was posted in Alexander Ovechkin, Dmitry Chesnokov, Sovetsky Sport, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Capitals’ Varlamov on the NHL Experience

  1. 7th Woman says:

    First time visitor here. Nice job on this. Good read!

  2. tj says:

    Thanks, OC, good article… Hope Varlamov will recover from the groin injury soon…

  3. muddapucker says:

    Why is it that NHL hockey players are so much better spoken than their NFL or NBA counterparts? Not only that, there seems to be a certain naivete’ that exists among rookies. They don’t seem to be stuck on themselves and think that they are God’s gift to mankind.
    Is it the press, both written and broadcast, that creates inflated images in the minds of NFL and NBA players of their significance both on and off the field? Is it the money? Is it the adoring and idolizing fans who bestow constant adualation on them?
    It is so refreshing to listen to hockey players, who as a lot, are modest and well spoken, unassuming and humble and generally willing to speak more of the team than of the individual.
    Ovechkin is the perfect example. The world’s greatest who puts the team ahead of individual achievement. Which is not to say that he doesn’t strive for individual success, he just keeps it all balanced and in perspective.

  4. pepper says:

    He sure says all the right things. Sounds like a real good kid.
    In fact, its incredible the character of the guys generally that the org has brought in. Kugryshev is another great example. When other teams are scared of drafting Russians, we grab one that not only wants to play in North America, but will throw himself to the wolves in a totally foreign place and play NA junior hockey.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that someone in Ross Mahoney’s staff is a certified adolescent psychoanalyst, the way they draft guys with good, clear heads and determination, team players. Amazing.

  5. He’s a great kid, but I don’t think he’ll be on the NHL squad this year. But that isn’t a bad thing, and hopefully he knows that. I would love to see him in a full year’s worth of AHL action, and then next season he can stake a true claim at being the back-up and maybe even the starter. I wish nothing but good things for this kid.

  6. Juan-John says:

    Slightly OT, but ESPN the Mag has an article on DC’s favorite Russian:

  7. seb says:

    Someone’s two year contract sounds just about right these days.

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