Alexei Cherepanov: My Play Has Not Gotten Worse
Thursday January 24th 2008, 12:22 am

Cherepanov talks about the World Junior Championships in an interview on the Russian web site LiveHockey.ru, posted on January 20, 2008.

In an exclusive interview for “SG” Alexei Cherepanov evaluated the tournament which brought the Russian team bronze medals.

– Lesha, tell us all you’ve learned by comparison. Did this junior championship give you more difficulty than last year’s?

- Of course, purely psychologically, it had to be more difficult. Much more attention was paid to me. I also felt some physical problems. The bronchitis noticeably affected me. I was already ill when I was playing for Avangard, then on gathering in Novogorsk it got worse and it was difficult to rehabilitate myself. In the first game after shifts I was practically gasping. But to sum it up, yes, I agree, my play in this championship wasn’t brilliant. But the main result was a medal. So the tournament, certainly, was a positive.

– Scouts from the New York Rangers – the club which chose you in the 2007 NHL Draft – kept track of your performance?

- Yes, Vladimir Lychenko [legendary former defensman for team USSR - "SG"] works for them in Russia. We communicated with him the day before I departed for the Championships. In the Czech Republic I quite often saw him in the stands.

- What did you talk about?

- Nothing in particular, just general things. My health, how I played.

- Can the Canadians be beaten?

- They certainly became weaker. From the team that played against us in the autumn Super Series, four guys have already moved on to the NHL. The Canadians had weaknesses. On this occasion the Swedes were just slightly not good enough to be able to to take advantage of them.

- And did the Swedes in general surprise you?

- In this tournament I did not see anything out of the ordinary. I think last year the level of the Championship was more serious. So, by the way, was the hype around that tournament. In the Czech Republic for many games the stands were empty. There were few souvenirs. I myself bought practically nothing – a hat and some disks of our games.

- Did you normally disagree with Nemchinov? Is it true you were reprimanded?

- Its agreed that all these conversations are internal team issues. I don’t wish to bring out anything in the press.

- In the last months your play has been periodically appraised in terms of “is he a diva or not”? Does such talk make you angry?

- It is very difficult to hide that. In my opinion, my play has not gotten worse. I’m simply scoring less. But at the same time I’ve improved myself in small ways, in the strength battles.

- And how do you deal with “star fever”?

- I believe if a person has decided something, it is complicated to change his mind. Let people talk if they have nothing better to discuss. For me the most important thing is to perform for the team. And whether I’m on the first line or not is of no importance.

- Konstantin Ivigin

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