Last year in New York, Jaromir Jagr took Brandon Dubinsky under his wing, regularly staying out on the ice after practice to work with the young rookie. This season, he’s helping another promising Ranger draftee, 2007 first round pick Alexei Cherepanov. As Cherepanov explained in this interview with Russian daily Sport-Express following his hat trick performance in Omsk’s first pre-season game, his idol is already imparting valuable advice and spending extra time on the ice with the future Ranger.
Alexei Cherepanov: I Still Have Time to Get Jagr’s Autograph
During a conversation with this Sport-Express correspondent, the author of a hat trick on the net of Slovak team Skalica at the President of the Republic of Baskortostan Cup didn’t conceal his joy.
- To be honest, I very much wanted to score today, but I didn’t think that I could get a hat trick. But if it wasn’t for my linemates, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this success.
- The audience hoped to see a shower of goals from Jagr, but you became the hero of the match.
- Jaromir will score his [goals].
- Your line was the best on the ice. What can explain that kind of mutual understanding?
- This is the third year that I’m playing together with Sasha Popov and Anton Kuryanov. In this time each has had time to learn each other’s style of play, that’s where the understanding comes from. As for the other combinations, they are new and the guys need time in order to gel.
- Does it not surprise you that you played on the first line, and Jagr on the second?
- The roster is determined by the coach. Maybe this was a kind of tactical plan?! In general, during pre-season there can be one [plan], while in the season, quite another. But to be honest, it doesn’t matter to me on which line I play. The main thing is to score and provide the maximum benefit to the team.
- Last season, you said more than once that Jagr is your idol and that you dreamed of playing on one team with him. Today your dream has come true…
- You can’t even imagine what emotions are now overflowing in me. A dream is a dream, but at the same time, even I could not imagine that we would play together for the Omsk club!
- Most likely, you now wait for the chance to play with him on one line?
- I think that such a thing is possible! Anyway, now I dream of scoring off a pass from Jagr.
- Has it been possible to get the autograph of the Czech?
- Not yet, but after all, the whole season is still ahead.
- Do you communicate with him often?
- Yes, sometimes I ask him about the NHL. Jaromir knows that I have been invited there, and once said: “You want to play in the NHL – train more.” After these words I began to work even harder. By the way, after each practice Jaromir works extra with me: shows me all kinds of techniques, teaches me how to shoot, tells me how and on what I still need to work. In a way he is one of my coaches.
- They say that you have postponed your departure to the NHL in many respects because Jagr came to Avangard…
- My contract with Avangard still runs for one year, so I did not think at all about a departure. And then when I learned that my idol would play in Omsk, I generally forgot about the NHL for awhile.
- Do you think that with this roster Avangard can win itself a championship title?
- We have an excellent group, and we’ll all try to make it so that the team achieves the highest results. The arrival of Jagr should give to us, the young guys, more confidence. We will watch Jagr and learn.
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