Frolov, unhappy with ice time, has private conversation with Tortorella (Updated)
Tuesday December 07th 2010, 9:21 am
New York. Rangers Alexander Frolov: again on the fourth line.

Photo: AFP

When he signed with the New York Rangers last summer for what was considered at the time a modest $3 million sum, former Los Angeles Kings winger Alex Frolov told Russia’s Sport-Express that a deciding factor in his signing on Broadway was the promise he’d receive significant playing time and most likely play on a line with Rangers’ offensive leader Marion Gaborik.

Fast forward four months: Gaborik has missed nearly half of the Rangers 29 games due to injury and the 28-year old Frolov has found himself relegated to the Rangers fourth line with fellow Russian Artem Anisimov and tough guy Derek Boogard, playing under ten minutes per game in four of his last six contests. Frolov’s lack of ice time coincides with a lack of productivity: the five-time 20 goal scorer has only five goals and 11 points in 29 games, and just a single tally in his last 12.

It was with all that in mind that Sport-Express reporter Vasily Osipov approached the Moscow native following the Rangers home-and-home series with the rival New York Islanders last weekend, looking to understand whether Frolov’s demotion was a result of a conflict with Rangers head coach John Tortorella, or simply the logical outcome for a struggling player. A frustrated Frolov rewarded him with an honest account of his dissatisfaction with the current situation and news he’d approached Tortorella to discuss it days before. A translation of their conversation is provided below.

Update 6:20pm: Andrew Gross asked Frolov about the interview at practice today. You can read Frolov’s comments in Gross’ blog, Ranger Rants.

- A quarter of the season has past. How would you assess your game?

- I’ll start with the team: So far it’s performed pretty well, we’re holding on to a playoff spot. However, right now I’m not playing enough.  And I don’t like that at all.

- What’s happened that in recent games you’ve been moved to the humiliating fourth line with the goon Boogard?

- A couple of days ago I initiated a private conversation with our head coach, [John] Tortorella, during which he claimed that he has nothing against me personally, and is simply trying to find some new [line] combinations. He said that the distribution of playing time depends only on that.

- Is it possible to speak about a conflict between you and Tortorella?

- There is no outright antipathy.

- What aren’t you happy with?

- It’s absolutely unacceptable to me that that I spend 7-8 minutes a game on the ice, especially on an energy line. It’s just not my game, which I told the coach candidly. But there are no personal problems between me and him. I’m not a quarrelsome person. Even in our recent conversation there was no swearing or raised voices. Nobody blamed anyone, we simply discussed the situation. The coach promised that soon everything will change, I just need to be a little patient and work harder in practice.

- Could you say that still haven’t fit into his system?

- In the first few games it was indeed difficult.

- What in particular didn’t you get?

- Torts gives wingers completely different tasks, making them work more on defense. In comparison with the tactics of Los Angeles, where I spent the previous seven seasons, it was very unusual. However I’ve already adapted now to the new system [and] begun to understand the head coach’s requirements. And he seems satisfied with my performance on the ice. Or so he says at least. He promised that in the near future he’ll give me more playing time. We’ll see what happens.

- Did you present any particular complaints to Tortorella?

- To me they’re still not completely clear. He asks that I shoot on goal as much as possible at every opportunity, even from the corners. But yet he demands that I loiter in front of the net, blocking the visibility of the opposition’s goaltender. I’m trying to readjust.

- Everyone knows that Tortorella loves power forwards like Prust, Callahan or Boyle who literally burn everything in their path. Maybe he doesn’t like that sometimes you don’t play with enough aggression?

- As a matter of principal, I don’t skate by an opponent when there is an opportunity to play the body. I don’t think that’s the main problem.

- Is it possible to build any parallels to what occurred to you last year in Los Angeles?

- I don’t want to compare the two situations yet. It’s a long season, everything could still change.

- But you haven’t thought about a trade?

- Not yet. I really hope that after my conversation with Tortorella something changes. But if everything stays the same, then I’ll start to think [about it]…

Osipov also spoke to Frolov’s current linemate Anisimov about the pair’s demotion to the fourth line and his relationship with head coach Tortorella:

- Why have you and Frolov found yourselves on the fourth line?

- It think you have to ask our head coach about that. We, as hockey players, need to go out on the ice and give two hundred percent. Only your play can prove that you’re entitled to more playing time.

- But does Tortorella have any complaints with you?

- He hasn’t presented any to me individually. And there have been no personal conversations about my play.

- Frolov told me in an interview that he had a private conversation with the coach…

- I haven’t talked to Sasha about that, so I can’t say anything. Personally there are no conflicts for me. I just try to do what the coaching staff demands of me. That’s all.

Frolov on KHL vs. NHL, team loyalty, and being a positive person
Sunday August 22nd 2010, 10:09 pm
Alexander Frolov


Earlier this month Russian sports portal asked readers to submit questions for newest New York Ranger Alexander Frolov. Last week, they visited Frolov’s parents home in the Moscow suburb of Serpukhov, where they set up a video teleconference with the 28-year old winger, who’s currently in Los Angeles preparing for the upcoming season. The questions, which were posed by correspondent Denis Petrov, ranged from why Frolov chose the NHL over the KHL to whether he believes there’s a place for team loyalty in today’s game. A translation of their short and admittedly vanilla interview transcript is provided below.

UPDATE 8/27/10: Stick tap to reader Ed, who pointed out that at the very end of the video, as the interview is wrapping up, Frolov tells Petrov that he’ll wear the number 31 for the Rangers next season.

- In July there was talk about your returning to the KHL. Even the league president, Alexander Medvedev, mentioned in one interview that he expected your crossing to Russia. In the end, why did you make the decision to remain in the NHL?

- The Rangers made a good offer, which interested me. It’s a well-known club with a rich history and, from a professional point of view, I decided that it was the best option for the continuation of my career. Regardless of how the KHL has developed, the strongest league in the world is still overseas.

- Despite the fact that your contract with Los Angeles had ended, you went to the World Championship without a new deal. Did you understand that your patriotic feelings could have cost you dearly?

- Of course I understood, and knew that there was a certain degree of risk. My decision didn’t delight my agents, to put it mildly. But I had no right to miss the World Championship. At no time did I regret my decision. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to repeat the successes of the last two years. The defeat in the final against the Czechs was very disappointing.

- You’re considered a master of so-called garbage goals. How did you develop the rare skill of playing in someone else’s crease, which is unusual for Russian players?

- It’s just talent! (laughs) Seriously, I don’t really know how it happened for me. I can’t say that I consistently worked on this element in practice. It all came about on its own somehow.

- Alexander, you hold a unique achievement: During your career you’ve managed to play for all four Moscow teams. In your opinion, is the concept of team loyalty already irrelevant in modern hockey?

- I think that it’s no longer [relevant]. For a long time hockey’s been not just a game, but a business. It’s already practically impossible for a professional player to spend his entire career with one team. So the migration of players from team to team is an absolutely normal process.

- Who was your hockey idol as a child and is there a current hockey player who’s game you really admire?

- In childhood it was Alexander Yakushev. And now I don’t even know…

- Your mom suggests that you liked Mark Messier.

- Well, mother knows best! There are many good players now. At one time I liked Zigmund Palffy, who I played with in Los Angeles. I think he now plays in his homeland in Slovakia.

- You give the impression of a very positive person. How do you manage to constantly stay in a good mood?

- First and foremost it’s daily meditation (laughs). Really, I don’t even think about it. I don’t do anything special, I simply am what I am.

Filed under: Alexander Frolov

Frolov discusses his decision to sign with the Rangers
Thursday July 29th 2010, 7:12 am
Alexander Frolov signs with the New York Rangers

Photo: FHR

The Los Angeles Kings media guide lists Russian forward Alexander Frolov’s favorite NHL city to visit as New York, and his top arena to play in as Madison Square Garden.   Starting this fall, the 28-year old former King will get the opportunity to try the city and its famous arena out for more than a day or two at a time, thanks to the cap-friendly, one-year, $3 million dollar contract he signed with the Blueshirts on Tuesday.

According to reports, Frolov left as much as $20 million dollars on the table in the KHL in order to remain in the NHL and experience life New York.  Frolov discussed his decision to sign with the Rangers and his expectations for the new season in an interview with Sport-Express correspondent Alexander Shapiro on Wednesday.  A translation of their conversation is provided below.

- Many hoped that this summer you would return to Russia.  Why didn’t it come together?

– I actually had two good offers from KHL clubs, but at the same time there were opportunities to continue my career in the NHL, where a few clubs were also interested in me.  In the end I chose the Rangers, because that option seemed optimal.

- It’s generally known that you were actively invited to both SKA and Salavat Yulaev [Ufa].  It’s said that in Ufa they offered you a four year contract for the sum of about $20 million.  Is that the truth?

– I won’t hide that Ufa wanted very much to sign a contract with me.  I communicated with head coach Vyacheslav Bykov, and he talked about the interest the club had in my services.

- There wasn’t resentment towards Bykov after he didn’t take you to the Games in Vancouver?

– I already forgot about the Olympics a long time ago, and I don’t want to discuss that subject today.

- On SKA you could have become a teammate of [former San Jose Shark goaltender Evgeny] Nabokov, with whom you played in the same conference in the NHL.  Incidentally, were you surprised with his decision to move to Russia?

– Zhenka apparently thought that it would be better for him.  And it doesn’t seem right to me to discuss or criticize the action of any other player.  Each hockey player has the right to choose for himself where to continue his career.  I want only to wish him good luck: that in the KHL he will play as reliably as he did in the NHL.

- As I understand it, given the fact that you signed a one year contract with the Rangers, your return to Russia next summer isn’t ruled out?

– In our lives anything is possible.  For now I’ve been offered good conditions with the Rangers.  I want to play for this distinguished club and live in New York.

- Did you consider the option of remaining in Los Angeles?

– I spent seven years on that team, and felt that it was time to change something.

- Have you already had a conversation with the leadership of the Rangers?

– Yes, I communicated with them before signing the contract.  It was very important for me to understand in what capacity they would count on me.  I heard that on the Rangers I’ll receive a lot of playing time, will regularly be on the ice during the power play.  Most likely, I’ll play on a line with the leader of the team, Gaborik.  In New York they want me to create a high-powered offensive unit with Gaborik.

– Last season your peer Gaborik was the unconditional leader of the Rangers and scored 86 points (42+44) in 76 games.  What can you tell us about this player?

– He’s very talented, fast, sees the ice well, can both score and set up.  I think that Marian is one of the best players in the NHL today.

- One other Russian, Artem Anisimov, plays on the Rangers.  Perhaps that high-powered line will be the threesome of Frolov – Anisimov – Gaborik?

– And that, in my opinion, would make a very good line.

- For the last five seasons the main goaltender of the Rangers has been Swede Henrik Lundqvist — one of the best goaltenders in the world.  Have you managed to score on him?

– Henrik is indeed a very high class goaltender.  It’s just that right now I can’t remember if I scored on him or not.  When I get to New York I’ll by all means ask him if he can remember (smiles).

- Rangers head coach John Tortorella is famous for not entirely standard behavior.  Everyone remembers the episode, when during a game he flung a bottle at a fan.

– I don’t need to get used to it (laughs) [i.e. I'm already used to it]. The most important thing for me is that the coach lets me play.

– You’ve spent your whole NHL career on a team in the West.  Now you’ve moved to the East, where your countrymen Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, and Malkin play.  You understand that there will be heightened attention on you?

– I don’t think about inter-Russian competition (smiles).  For me the main thing is to adapt to the new club as soon as possible and start to be of use to it.  I’ll do everything possible to score a little more.

- By the way, didn’t you have the desire to sign a long-term contract, like Kovalchuk did?

– I was offered an agreement for several seasons, but the terms didn’t suit me.

- The pre-season still hasn’t begun in the NHL, are you planning to come to Russia?

– Most likely I won’t be able to get home this summer.

Filed under: Alexander Frolov