Wellwood's first season with Atlant began strongly. Coach Nikolai Borchevzky (formerly a Toronto Maple leaf, as celebrated at PPP) was playing Wellwood around 20 minutes a game, and he was enjoying top-six ice time. However, Borchevzky was fired in early October and replaced by Milos Riha, who had been fired by Spartak Moscow around the same time. Riha replaced the team's attacking style with a stricter, defensive structure. Wellwood has seen a considerable decrease in minutes, and is now back in a familiar place, skating in the bottom-six with limited minutes. In 20 games played, Wellwood has only 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist).
Who cares, though? PITB loves Kyle Wellwood because he's unique, and uniquely self-aware. His sheepishly, but candid personality is unique in hockey circles, and thankfully, his personality lives on, even in poorly translated Russian interviews. What follows are four Kyle Wellwood interviews, organized chronologically, in which he touches on everything from his adjustments to Russian life, women in the workplace, his former Canuck teammates, and the future of the NHL. This is must-read material.
Just a heads-up: Google Translate is an imperfect animal. Still, it is possible to get around the broken sentences and come to an understanding of what is actually being said, and we have tried to facilitate this with minimal editing. Enjoy!
The first interview takes place almost as soon as Wellwood arrives in Russia. He answers a few questions while unpacking his things and getting settled in the Atlant locker room.
Good evening, Kyle, welcome you in Mytishchi.
Thanks, I'm very pleased.
How was your flight?
All is well, but I was very tired and sleepy. Flying with two changes, in New York and Prague, for a total received nearly 11 hours.
Did you attend one day Russia?
No, I'm in your country for the first time. I was amazed that everything is great. Big country, a huge expanse. But the nature here is very similar to Canada.
How did you [enjoy the] weather in the capital?
Wet, slush, but tolerable. Again, in this weather I'm used to. At my home in Windsor, Ontario, the weather - not a rarity. True, I know that in winter you have here is very cold, but I'm ready.
For cooling you are ready, and to play for Atlant?
I am ready to give all the best in every game and do everything in my power.
Do you know someone from the Moscow Region club players?
No. But it does not bother me. Let us get acquainted. By the way, you are just playing with The Knight?
Yes, and why it interested you?
There is my old friend - Josh Gratton.
Kyle, finally, say something to our fans.
Always be loyal to your team and keep it, no matter what happens. And we, the players will try to justify your hopes.
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Yesterday evening at the Riga ice stayed Mytishchi "Atlant", recently intensified the 27-year old Canadian winger Kyle Uellvudom. Two previous seasons Kyle played for the NHL Vancouver Canucks, where reputed strong slogger third or fourth level, and even enjoyed the sympathies of fastidious Canadian fans. After the game Uellvud with ethereal sadness in his eyes wandered lonely backstage at the Arena Riga, recalling fifth-grader who transferred to another school and who have nothing to do with themselves on the break. Korrespondant dinamofans.ru (which, I must say, [was a] despairing fan of the Canucks in the year 1994) could not ask Kyle about a new turning point in his career ...
Kyle, you have already played three games in the "Atlanta." What are the first impressions of the Continental Hockey League?
Feel the major differences from the NHL game plan. Firstly, it is much more space, a little more than slow play, and most importantly, a huge number of very skilful players - it surprised most.
What were forced to leave Vancouver?
It's very simple - could not find a job in Vancouver. There was a proposal to play in the KHL - and here I am.
There were there any offers from other clubs in the KHL?
To be honest, I do not know. I was getting ready for the season in training camp in Phoenix, but to gain a foothold in the first team I could not. Then my agent asked me how I feel about the fact that the move to Russia. I replied "yes." Offer from Atlanta was the best at that time.
How do you feel a part of Atlant?
Until quite hard. We do not have the necessary "chemistry" in the team - this is a very serious problem.
Do you feel a player capable of solving problems, Atlant in the attack?
It should not only do I feel, and all five guys who are on site. I hope that this will happen, and that I can help the team.
You had ever been to Latvia?
No, first time here. In fact, I did not know much about Riga and Latvia, but a lot of guys from the team said that out of all cities KHL they like best to play it in Riga. I agree with them - are really cool!
Have to see the city?
Yes, although we only ride the bus to Riga. But tell you a secret: I will have the opportunity to walk around the city - because of visa problems, I'll be staying in Riga before Friday.
You had one match in Moscow, Minsk and Riga. What particularly memorable game in the capital of Latvia?
Well, first, the fans here in order louder. I noticed that you have plenty of its own, special chants, and chants of the whole stadium. Well, and was very impressed with this guy who went to the ice before the game - with a big head and all in lights.
With the famous Moscow traffic jams already had to face?
Yes, the very first day. I had to go to the checkup, I went to 6.30 and for three hours getting to the doctor's study. Very tired!
Do you further your career with a KHL?
Yes, I want to play a good season and has established itself in Russia. So far I like everything here - the guys are excellent, hockey ... hockey here in our performance, I hope, will be still a little in better.
A familiar face in North America in the KHL has not yet met?
That's just today - Michael Tellkvist. He and I played together in Toronto and St. John's, so I really know him well. Chatted with him on the rolling and after the game. Right now, maybe try to find [him]...
Well, thank you, good luck and looking Tellkvista!
This interview follows an Atlant victory over Salavat Yulaev, a KHL team based in the Republic of Bashkortostan. Yes, their team name is not their location. In fact, it's a person--the leader of the Baskhir revolution, and therefore a national hero. Interesting. Salavat is loaded with former NHL notables, including Dmitri Kalinin, Alex Radulov, Canuck draft pick Kirill Kolstov, Victor Kozlov, and Senators draft pick Ilya Zubov, who made some waves last season for refusing to report to the Senators' affiliate in Binghamton. A poll on the left sidebar indicates that 2 HC Atlant fans feel that Wellwood is Atlant's best player. That sounds familiar. Two weirdly overzealous Wellwood fans with a complete lack of perspective, claiming he's awesome when the stats indicate otherwise? There is a Russian PITB. I don't think it's an official poll, mind you. Look at the third voting option.
Anyhow, this interview comes after the coaching change, and it's my guess that Wellwood isn't boasting when he compares Atlant's style to the New Jersey Devils.
You are playing against one of the strongest teams in Russia.
Yes, and it was visible. As part of the Ufa club serves many top players, especially impressive attack. But today we were able to oppose them with their own advantages.
In what period of the match you've had particularly difficult? Yes, throughout the game was very hard. Salavat constantly put pressure, but Barulin was able to reflect all of their shots. With a wall behind nothing is scary.
You have just recently moved to Russia. Already had such a short time to find a mutual understanding with our partners?
Just want to note that I like it here very much. Of course, at first it was a bit unusual, but I am slowly adapting to Russia. Yes, and problems with reading the game is almost not there.
Many players hard to rebuild after the NHL to Russian big box (ice surface). For large areas, even better to play than the smaller ones. Have more creative freedom, more opportunities to play the puck. So I'm in this transition can only see advantages. However, at sites in the NHL is fast.
Which of your previous commands more like Atlant? Toronto or Vancouver?
I'd rather be called our team the Russian New Jersey Devils. Why? We love to attack, and most importantly, know how to do it. We have a distinct leader and scorer in the person of Sergei Mozyakin, and the potential we can aim a blow at the highest awards this season.
In this one, Wellwood discloses, for the first time, that Phoenix actually offered him a two-way contract, but he turned it down. He discusses Russian food in a typically Wellwoodian moment, and in my favourite answer, admits the larger Russian ice surface might be better for him because he simply isn't a complete enough player for NHL ice. He talks about missing his family and his girlfriend back at home and how they're watching his games online, the way the media handled the Rypien incident, the looming potential NHL lockout, and women in the workplace. This is my favourite of the four interviews.
Preseason you've spent pretty cool, but still "Phoenix", where you were on the testing conditions, you have not picked up. Why?
Staying offered, but it would have been only two-way contract. I was not happy with.
Many people in your place would have stayed home and played in the AHL, waiting for his chance ...
No, the AHL - is passed stage. In the KHL, of course, everything is different: a big ice, requires more equipment and personal mastery. The game is, incidentally, a very lively and I really like. As regards the reasons for my decision, then several of them. The first is a new experience, which I regard as extremely positive. And play in the European area is like.
For your style, great ice is just the thing.
Yes, I'm not very technically and overall player.
What were your first impressions after arriving in Russia?
Food is very good (laughs). Of course, initially I was much surprised, because of differences with North America just a mass. I can say that the ride here I was not afraid of Russia have heard many good things. Language difficulties, however, seemed difficult, because those Canadians who have tried to learn Russian, said he was very difficult.
About Atlant know anything before?
Nothing. Neither the players nor the coaches nor the city had heard nothing. Just one day I was asked: "Do you want to play for Atlanta," and I replied: "Yes." Relatives have supported me. By the way, do not think that the KHL so easy to break - there is also a solid competition.
Kyle, now Russia's youth team will hold its traditional series of matches against teams of junior leagues. You were once a star of the League of Ontario and even won the prize of top scorer. Tell that to the prize.
It was 10 years ago, I played for the Bellville Bulls. The trophy is called "Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy and awarded to the person who attains the most points - I scored, I think, 118. By the way, our team was the only ice rink in the league of great European sizes. It was since then and I love the European court.
You had a stellar hockey youth, but further career has stood out quite difficult. You do not gnaw hurtful thoughts that you are not a star NHL and play in Russia?
No, it's a good experience. Of course, I like the NHL, but to gain a foothold in this league is very difficult. KHL - the second in the world, and here too, good hockey, so I feel no resentment on that score.
Your family comes to visit you?
It's hard to say. My girlfriend is still there, and my parents watching games on the Internet.
What are some contacts with his former NHL club - "Vancouver", "Toronto", "Phoenix" - support?
With former teammates sometimes communicate, but no more.
You've probably heard about the incident between the striker Canucks' Rick Rypien and fans Minnesota. Rypien lashed out at the audience applauded his removal, and thus earned a disqualification ...
Yes, I know about it - especially watching this moment on Youtube. Rypien is actually a normal guy, and you should not do in this case caused a sensation. This is a good reason for journalists to inflate the "big deal". In America, this pretty often.
Kyle, in the NHL in the current off-season there was not the easiest situation for the players - a lot of good players left without contracts, some veterans have finished his career, though could still play. In your opinion, how likely lockout after in September 2012 completed a collective agreement?
The lockout is quite likely. Players hardly satisfied with the situation, and large payments to the reserve fund, many feel that they should earn more. The owners of clubs, respectively, a second opinion. In the NHL club can not have more than 50 players on contracts, including players from the farm, so free agents today is not sweet.
And one last question: I heard that your mom Donna is working firefighters. Is this true?
Yes. And that surprise you?
[In] Russia, [this] is a very unusual profession for a woman.
In Canada, it is in the order of things, we women work, and loggers and miners.
Mom likes her profession?
Note: Special hat-tip to Irene, our favourite bilingual Bulie. God bless her, she understands the Cyrillic alphabet well enough to search the Russian Internet (it surfs you) for Wellwood content. In her own words, "These are tough to find since they have a different alphabet, [and] especially because, with no 'W' in their language, they've come up with about 6 different ways of spelling Wellwood." Thanks to Irene for overcoming the obstacles this world continually places between Kyle Wellwood and our hearts.