New York Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev arrived in Switzerland on Friday, laden with souvenirs from New York and ready to join Team Russia as it begins qualification round play at the 2009 IIHF World Championship on Saturday. Radio Mayak was on hand at the Russian squad’s practice and interviewed the 24-year old winger upon his arrival. Their interview was transcribed by Russian web site AllHockey.ru and is translated below.
UPDATE 12:35pm: Zherdev will play against the USA on Saturday on a line with Alexander Frolov and Sergei Zinoviev. A live broadcast (in Russian) is available from Sportbox beginning at 2:15 EDT. Nevermind, they’re blocking IP addresses from outside Russia.
Nikolai Zherdev: I’m ready to play tomorrow against Team USA
Russian national team recruit Nikolai Zherdev evaluated his performance in the NHL in the past season, and related how he followed the national team from overseas and expressed readiness to take the ice already tomorrow.
- Was it difficult to accept the invitation from the national team after the disappointing defeat by Washington in the first round of the playoffs?
- Not difficult at all. As you know, when I met with the coaches in New York, we discussed it straight away: that if we get knocked out after the first round, I’d come. We lost – it’s OK. We’ll win next year.
– How would you evaluate your game in the current season?
- I think that I played OK. We got into the playoffs, that was a first for me. I never played for the Stanley Cup. I wanted to try it very much. And we lost in a struggle.
- Would you say that this is the most disappointing defeat in your career? The Rangers led in the series 3:1.
- No, there have been more disappointing. In the final of the junior championship, I remember, we lost 14 seconds before the end of the game. But here was a struggle — the playoffs are unpredictable. The guys said that it’s possible to lead 3:0 and lose 4:3, it’s possible to be losing 3:1 and win. And so it turned out for us with Washington.
- Why couldn’t you score in the playoffs?
- I couldn’t get my game going. I tried, but it didn’t work. I hope that the next time will be better.
– Is Team Russia an opportunity to bring the season to a successful close?
- Certainly. I followed the performance of the team on the Internet. Although, it wasn’t possible to watch the games — there [in the US] they don’t show the championship. As soon as we lost, I immediately went home, picked up my things, and booked a plane ticket and flew to Switzerland.
- Were you in touch with any of the players?
- I only talked with Kalinin (Dmitri Kalinin was a teammate of Zherdev’s – Ed. Note) a few times.
- Are you ready to play tomorrow against Team USA?
- Yes, I’m ready.
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