Since arriving in New York for Rangers training camp in early September Russian forwards Enver Lisin and Artem Anisimov have become fast friends, spending most of their time together both at the rink and away from it. So inseparable are the two young Rangers that it’s become fodder for friendly ribbing among their teammates.
So it was only fitting that Russian web site AllHockey.ru decided to interview the pair together, and solicited questions from readers in early December.
The resulting Q&A was published on Thursday. Readers’ questions covered a broad range of subjects ranging from hockey to hunting to questions about teammate Donald Brashear’s desire to play in Russia and of course the requisite plea for the talented youngsters to turn their back on the NHL and return to play in their homeland.
Due to the length of the interview, I split the translation into two parts. The first half is below; the second half can be found here.
- Welcome Artem and Enver. What do you think of fighting on the ice? You’ve now played overseas for a long time, you’ve gone through the rigorous grind of the AHL, I’d like to know your opinion and receive an answer to the question: is it worth it for our league to follow the same path, to permit more physical play? At times the hockey in the Russian league can be as boring to watch as figure skating.
Enver Lisin: I have a normal attitude towards fighting on the ice — it’s an elementary overflowing of emotions. My opinion: it’s better to let off steam on the ice, where the rules don’t forbid it, than in some bar. So those who want to fight, let them fight. But I don’t think it’s necessary for the Russian league to go the NHL route. Why should we start following the NHL — we have our own league, our own history, our own hockey.
Artem Anisimov: I hold the opinion that one should fight only when it’s really necessary. For example, when a team is losing it’s necessary to get it worked up, shake it up, charge it up with emotions. One of the ways to do this is to fight. But flapping your fists for no reason doesn’t make sense. And in my view giving five minutes for fighting in Russia would be the optimal solution, otherwise it doesn’t make sense: you fight once, and you miss the whole game.
- Which [size] ice surface do you like to play on, European or North American, and should the KHL change its ice surfaces?
EL: I prefer North American. There’s no doubt that games in Russia would become much more interesting if the KHL reduced the size of the ice surface.
AA: I’ve played on small ice surfaces for the last three years and it seems to me that they bring more conflict to the game and that the speed gets considerably higher. I think that if the KHL were to change the size of the ice surface, the hockey would become even more interesting.
- Are you waiting for offers from [national team coaches] Bykov and Zakharkin [to join the] Olympic team?
EL: I’m always open for offers.
AA: Of course, I’m waiting — it can’t happen this time, but sometime in the future I’ll get to play for my country.
- About Donald Brashear: is it true that he speaks Russian and plans to play in the KHL? There were rumors that he could find himself with Chekhov Vityaz, a team that delights [fans] with physical play and frequent on-ice fights, while not forgetting the main task: scoring.
E.L.: Yes, he really wanted to play in the KHL, like you said, he could have found himself with Checkhov Vityaz, but the New York Rangers won out, apparently. Donald often asks us about Russia, so maybe a little later he will go and play in our country. He speaks Russian, but only a very little bit.
AA: Incidentally, he even has a teach-yourself-Russian CD in the his CD player.
- A question for Artem: Do you have a girlfriend? And if not, what plans do you have for your personal life?
AA: I have a girlfriend.
- Enver, tell us, how is it for you to play in New York now?
- Playing here is excellent, people love hockey here and are very active fans of ours and support us well, it’s always nice.
- Is there anything in New York in memory of Alexei Cherepanov? A park, museum, sculpture or anything else?
- As far as I know, there isn’t anything in memory of Alexei Cherepanov in New York.
- Enver! First of all, a huge hello to you from Saratov. Well done! And secondly: Did you follow [local soccer team] Rubin out of the corner of your eye?
- A big hello to Saratov too! I remember this period in my career very well — it was my first professional team. We always had excellent fans there, we tried to play as well as we could for them, and to my way of thinking, we didn’t do too badly. Our team even made the playoffs — I remember we played against Mechel Chelyabinsk at the time.
I don’t watch football [soccer], but since I lived in Kazan for three years, I love the city, and to be honest, it was nice that Rubin won.
- Artem, hello. Have you received offers from the KHL? Is it possible you were invited [to come] back home?
- No one called me personally, I wasn’t offered anything. I didn’t receive any specific offers, but I continue to have a good relationship with Lokomotiv, it’s my home team, and I think that if at some point I want to return, they’d take me there.
- Dear boys! Congratulations on your first victory in life: you play in the strongest league in the world — not everyone gets the chance. But it’s time to show what you’re capable of. It’s time, guys, time! Years pass, and you haven’t made any progress — [come] home to your home team, it’s time to pay your debts.
EL: Not everyone can be like Ovechkin and Kovalchuk. Yes, years pass, but I don’t think that they’ve been lost without a trace, we learn something every day, we love hockey, we try, we work, and if something doesn’t work out, we don’t get upset and we continue to work on, with even more persistence.
AA: Don’t worry, everything will work out. As they say, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
- Good day, Artem and Enver. Are you given enough time to simply read a book and do you enjoy doing so? If yes, what are you reading now?
EL: Yes, there’s plenty of time, especially on the plane and on road trips. The last [book] that I read was one of the works of Boris Akunin. Right now there’s a book lying in my bag, but so far I haven’t opened it.
AA: Yes, I love to read from time to time. Generally I prefer fantasy. For example, right now I’m reading “Ancient”. I also like historical books, especially the history of ancient civilizations.
- Artem, it seems that you generally score your goals against more experience goaltenders, yet beating young ones is difficult for you?
- For some reason lately I can’t even beat the more experienced ones (laughs). I don’t know, its probably the enthusiasm of a young player in full swing, there’s always more of a desire to score on a more skilled goalkeeper.
- Artem, what are your favorite places in Yaroslavl? Where do you like to go?
- I love to just walk around Yaroslavl, especially along the embankment, to wander around the center [of the city]. During a walk, maybe stop to grab a bite to eat at some little restaurant or cafe to replenish my energy.
- Enver, hello. Do you enjoy fishing, hunting, relaxing in the fresh air? If yes, what exactly do you enjoy doing?
- I like being out in the fresh air very much, I spend a large part of the summer in Abkhazia. I’m not a fan of fishing. Sometimes I’ll go hunting in the mountains — the process [of hunting] itself is interesting. I also like to ride horses.
- Enver, many people, knowing that your played in Kazan and hearing your name, think that you’re from Tatarstan. Reveal the truth, what is your home town and the history of your name?
- No, I’m not from Tatarstan, I was born in the Moscow area, in the city of Voskresensk. And I must say that I’m very proud of that, since many good hockey players have come from our city: Larionov, Kamensky, Kozlov, Titov, Zelepukin, Berezin, Kvartalnov — I could go on.
It was my grandmother’s idea to name me Enver. In Arabic it is translated as “sun, light”. It’s even the name of one of the Suras in the Koran.
- And a question for both guys: who from the players currently playing this fine game would you name as friends, or even good acquaintances?
EL: Ilya Bryzgalov, Artem Anisimov.
AA: [Devil's prospect Alexander] Sasha Vasyunov, Semyon Varlamov, Enver Lisin, [ex-Wolf Pack teammate] Vladimir Denisov.
- Enver, Artem, hello! Good luck and success to you in the NHL. Confidentially, guys, are New York girls beautiful?
EL: I can say in strict confidence, I have not yet seen more beautiful girls than in Moscow and Kazan. But in New York girls are different, they’re also beautiful, and in general in New York you can find whatever you’re looking for.
AA: The notion of “beautiful” is different for everyone. In my opinion there are beautiful girls everywhere, it doesn’t depend on the country or city.
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