An injury-depleted Avangard Omsk team lost their fourth straight game yesterday (and sixth in their last seven), falling 3-1 to Khimik Voskresensk. The loss dropped them six points behind Kharlamov Division-leading Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and into 10th place in the 24-team KHL. A visibly frustrated Jaromir Jagr was held pointless, and took two third period cross checking penalties. After the game, the dejected Czech spoke to Igor Kakurin of Championat.ru about what the team has been going through.
– As far as I understand, Jaromir, now is probably the most critical point of the season for Avangard. You’ve lost six of the last seven matches, but ahead is an entire seven home games in which it is possible to correct the situation…
- (Jagr looks with a sort of vacant stare, as if trying to figure out what he should say).
- What do you think about what’s happening with the team?
- (pause). Hmmm… (he speaks very slowly). I think… I see that this is absolutely a bad time for us. All of us. After Alexei [Cherepanov's] death we… We lost thirteen more players from the roster… Injured. It…
- Nobody could anticipate this. It could not be expected…
- Yes, I know that. Everyone knows. But… but when you lose thirteen players from the starting roster — it’s just not right. You can’t overcome that. But you know, there’s no one for you… no one to help us. No one, but yourself. We ourselves must get through it. Hope that the injured guys return, and we can… you know… we can get back to our game. [That] we can play better hockey.
- Right now you simply look shocked. You’re not yourself.
- It is quite difficult. It wouldn’t be easy for anyone. Nobody likes to lose. And I don’t like it. And for me this is very hard. But I can only have faith that we’ll get through all this, through these defeats, and that we’ll win.
- Watching you on the ice, the impression was that you play some moments alone — for yourself, and by yourself for everyone, for your team.
- That happens again and again (grinning nervously). I know that I have to continue to fight and believe that it will help everything get back on the right course. To have faith that we’ll recover. You see, when everything, absolutely everything, goes completely badly — you search, you try to find at least something good. You fight to find something. But what else can you do?
- During your entire career, did you ever encounter anything like what is happening to you now?
- I don’t know. Maybe… (pause). No, I don’t imagine I have. I don’t remember anything like this. Maybe, sometime long ago… I don’t know. But even if there was something like this, this is one of the hardest situations in my life. That is for sure.
- So what do you think about the upcoming series of home games. Coach Fleming just said at the press conference that he’s optimistic about them and expects the return of several of the injured players to the team right away…
- I hope for that very much. We need each one of them on the roster. Need them very much. I hope that it will be so.
- In the absence of so many of your players from the roster — what has happened with your teammate Pavel Rosa, who did not play today against Khimik?
- I don’t know. I simply don’t know.
- Rosa and one more Avangard forward, [Alexei] Kopeikin, played in Astana against Barys, but did not travel with the team to the match with Khimik, and have already turned up in Omsk. For what reason?
- Yes. Some sort of problems [have arisen], but I don’t know [what they are].
- As for all of these defeats…
- We don’t score goals, that is the problem. Through all of this — we have opportunities, but we do not score. We score one or two. But this is not enough to win games. Everyone understands, that to win it’s necessary to score at least four or five goals. But with one or two, it’s hard to win. But we can’t score more than one or two. That’s the problem, you know?… (pauses). I have to go now.
- Thank you. Good luck!
- (he nods, barely visibly, makes his way to the door which is opened and behind which is a crowd of Voskresensk boys, and in the distance is the bus with the team that awaits Jagr…)
Avangard head coach Wayne Fleming would not comment on the situation with Rosa or Kopeikin, but Rosa’s agent told Champtionat today that he’s under the impression his client’s contract with the Omsk club will be terminated, though neither he nor Rosa himself, who assured Championat that he’s completely healthy, have been provided any details as to why. The team did receive a boost when top center Anton Kuryanov returned, donning the captain’s “C” in place of Alexander Svitov, who’ll remain out for another six weeks following shoulder surgery.
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