Anisimov discusses pre-season travel, Avery’s demotion and the Lokomotiv tragedy
Tuesday October 11th 2011, 7:58 am

Photo: Luis Alvarez/AP

The travel schedule may have been hectic, but one benefit of the New York Rangers opening the 2011-2012 season in Europe is that it provided an opportunity for Sovietsky Sport reporter Lana Lapitski to chat with Rangers’ third year center Artem Anisimov.  Lapitsky caught up with the 23-year old Yaroslavl native prior to the Rangers’ season opener in Stockholm, and again in the locker room following their 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.  The pair discussed a wide variety of topics, including the team’s pre-season journey around Europe, living in New York, Sean Avery’s demotion, and the Lokomotiv tragedy that rocked Anisimov’s home town in early September.  A translation of their conversation follows.

- I didn’t think anyone from the Russian press would come! – Artem exclaimed when I approached him after morning practice.

- You’re not tired from galloping across Europe?

- Who, me?  No! I’ve visited four countries, played hockey — it’s great!  I got to see Prague, we were there for two days.  After the day’s work we walked around the [city] center.  And we were lucky with the weather.  I liked Goethenburg, too, we had a free day there.

- And what did you see?

- Nothing! The fog was too thick, - Anisimov laughs. Lundqvist took us to the best restaurant in the city, we had a great team dinner…  Bratislava, we just went there and back.

Stockholm?  I had already been there with Team Russia when we played in the Euro Hockey Tour before the 2010 World Championship.  I love the old town with its ancient buildings, cobbled streets, small alleyways and cozy restaurants. You can’t find anything like it in America.  The country itself is only a little over 200 years old.

- And Zurich?

- I’ve been there many times.  Every summer I train there with [Soviet hockey legend and former Lokomotiv junior coach Vladimir] Yurzinov.

- How did you manage to lose so badly to Zug?

- We were ready [for the game].  But we’re used to North American hockey, and we met the Swiss on big ice.  We tried to play a physical style, win dump-ins and face-offs.  But they were able to cut us off.  We made a couple stupid mistakes on defense, let in a couple goals and the game didn’t go our way.

- How has the roster changed with the arrival of Brad Richards.  He’s a center, your competitor.

- Dubinsky moved to Richards’ line.  And I was put on a line with Fedotenko and Callahan.

- That’s the second line?

- For us all four lines are of equal level.  There’s no difference where you play.

- What was your reaction to the fact that Sean Avery was released from the roster?

- I was surprised.

- Has the time passed for the agitator?

- That’s not the issue.  Sean is a very good person.  A highly skilled, fast player.  This decision was made by the coach.  I’m just a hockey player.

The Rangers PR representative asks us to wrap it up.  But I ask Artem a few last questions which must be asked of him as an alumni of Lokomotiv.

- In the summer you became a [restricted] free agent.  Did your home town team call you [to come play for them]?

- Yes, there was such an offer.

- Do you not think, now, that someone from above protected you?

- It’s possible.  I try not to think about it.  The guys can’t be brought back.  We must play for them, they will remain in our hearts forever.

- Did you go to Yaroslavl?

- I was at the funeral. It was terribly difficult, – Artem’s eyes darken.

- I heard that the NHL wives have organized a charity fund to help the victims’ families.

- Yes, they’re selling specially designed bracelets.  My girlfriend and I ordered some for ourselves.  We’re just waiting for them to be sent, – here Artem’s voice fades away completely...

***

After the game [a 3-2 overtime loss to Los Angeles] Artem was extremely frustrated:

- I’m not happy with my play. I need to capitalize on my chances.

- You were even sent out on the penalty kill.

- I played on [the penalty kill] last season too.  It’s very good when you get more [playing] time.  You don’t get cold sitting on the bench… It’s a shame that we messed up so much on defense, took so many unnecessary penalties.  It’s a good thing that Lundqvist bailed us out often.

- Who was rooting for you in the stands?

- Vladimir Yurzinov was at the game.  He advises the Swedish team AIK.  He came to me play.  He often gives me advice.  My girlfriend and parents couldn’t come.  They had trouble getting a visa.

- How is life in New York in general?

- It’s a great city!  In my free time I like to go to Broadway and watch musicals. It’s cool when they sing live!   I’ve been to the shows “Mamma Mia”, “The Lion King”, “The Phantom Opera”…  And I really like the team. Everyone gets along with one another, helps each other.  There’s no differentiation between who’s Russian, American or Slovak.  10-12 of us go out to dinners, a lot of team activities…  Last season I roomed with Norwegian Mats Zuccarello on the road.  And here’s my friend — Anisimov points his neighbor in the locker room, Brian Boyle — we sit together everywhere, at the table, on the bus…

- Why are you not on Twitter and Facebook.  Gino Malkin has already become Mr. Twitter.

- I don’t like social networks.  I think it’s better to read a book or do something useful than to hang out on the Internet. I have friends who know my phone number. And I can always call them.

- Many stars have come to Stockholm.  For example Teemu Selanne from Anaheim.  Perhaps you met a childhood idol here?

- No.  I always liked how Joe Sakic played in Colorado.  And now I love to watch Pasha Datsyuk.  He’s the model center.  Plays perfectly on defense or on the attack.  Very good shot, golden hands.

- Do you follow Datsyuk’s example?

- One should only be like oneself.  But I can take something for my arsenal from others.  It’s never too late to learn.

- Do you have a nickname?

- In Russia they called me Grandpa.  It’s an old story.  My friend Sasha Vasyunov, who died in the Lokomotiv crash, thought up this nickname.

- Why Grandpa?

- Because I was slow, paused [during play].

- And in the NHL do you have a nickname?

- Artie.  American’s can’t pronounce my name completely.

Filed under: Artem Anisimov


Anisimov not satisfied with successful sophomore season
Sunday March 27th 2011, 3:52 pm
Artem Anisimov

Photo: Yarsport

With seven games remaining in his second NHL season, New York Rangers center Artem Anisimov has already eclipsed the numbers he put up in every major statistical category during his rookie year.  And his current 18-24-42 stat line is on par with those achieved by current linemates Brandon Dubinsky (13-28-41) and Ryan Callahan (22-18-40) in their respective sophomore seasons, fueling hope that his career will take a similar trajectory as his two teammates’, who currently lead the team in scoring.

As Anisimov told Sovietsky Sport correspondent Alyssa Volbidakht following last week’s match-up with the Ottawa Senators, he isn’t satisfied with his sophomore production, and recognizes that there’s room for improvement. In the interview, translated below, the the 22-year old Yaroslavl native also discussed the Rangers playoff aspirations, their Madison Square Garden neighbors the New York Knicks, and why he chose to wear the number 42.

- It would seem that the Rangers really don’t want to be the last playoff seed.

- That’s the truth.  We need to win each game. The more points we collect, the further the separation from those pursuing us.

- As your goaltender Henrik Lundqvist likes to say, “Every day I remind myself that last season we missed the playoffs by only one point.”

- Exactly! Now we could even overtake Montreal.  We’re looking at those in front of us, instead of behind.

- Are you happy with your successes this season?

- No.

- But you have good statistics!

- Could have been even better.  There are very good examples in the league.  Steven Stamkos, the Sedin brothers, Pasha Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Sasha Ovechkin, Zhenya Malkin… I need to improve myself, to raise the level of my play.

- It’s possible that you’ll meet some of those guys at the world championship.  Will you be going to the national team?

- It depends on the situation in the NHL.  For us the most important thing now is the playoffs.  The further we go, the better.  But if there’s a misfire and the Rangers are knocked out, I’ll gladly play for my native team Russia.

- Do you go to New York Knicks basketball games?  After all, you play in the same arena…

- I’ve never been.  There’s not enough time.  But I’d really like to get out [to one].

- So you didn’t get acquainted with Timofey Mozgov.

- Well… We saw each other in the training center where the Knicks and Rangers train together.  We met during lunch in the cafeteria, said hello…

- After the Knicks traded Mozgov for Karmelo Anthony, they lost seven of eight games!

- That’s how it goes.  Sorry, I really don’t follow the NBA intently.

- Why did you choose the number 42?

- When I played in Hartford, I wanted to take the number 12.  But the sweater with that number was already hanging from the rafters of the local arena…

- Actually, 12 is the only number removed from circulation there.  In honor of the former forward and captain Ken Gernander, who now coaches your farm club.  He’s the AHL record-holder for goals in the playoffs – 123.

- And then I wanted to take the number 24, because that’s my birthday.  But my conscience wouldn’t allow it — my friend [Devil's prospect Alexander Vasyunov], with whom I played together for 7-8 years, wore that number.  What to do?  So took it and inverted it.  And got 42.

- I have to ask you: have you ever read the Douglas Adams book “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?”

- No. What’s that?

- In it the number 42 is answer to the meaning of life and everything else.

- Really? – Anisimov is extremely surprised.  – I didn’t know.  I’ll have to read it.

- In English it’s called “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

- Thanks, I’d rather read it in Russian.  It’ll be easier.



Anisimov happy to remain a Ranger
Monday March 07th 2011, 7:40 am
Artem Anisimov talks to Andrei Nazarov following the New York Rangers loss to the Buffalo Sabres on March 3, 2011.

Photo: Vasily Osipov, Sport-Express

Though still a work in progress, New York Rangers sophomore Artem Anisimov has spent the majority of his second season in the NHL centering the Rangers top trio, regularly facing opposing teams’ top checking or scoring lines and playing a major role in the team’s ability to overcome injuries and remain in the hunt for a playoff berth.  His improvement has been reflected on the scoresheet:  Just 58 games into his sophomore year, the 22-year old Russian’s 13-18-31 stat line eclipsed his rookie totals in all three categories — goals (12), assists (16), and points (28).  And with 14 games remaining, he’s just four goals shy of the first of what Rangers fans hope will be many 20+ goal campaigns as a Blueshirt.

Anisimov’s progress as a player has not only turned the head of Russian national team assistant coach Andrei Nazarov, who was in New York last week to talk to the young pivot about a potential role on Russia’s World Championship team this spring, but the heads of scouts and general managers around the league as well.  That became all the more evident at the NHL Trade Deadline, when the Yaroslavl native was included in a rumored blockbuster trade for Dallas center Brad Richards that (fortunately) never took place.

After the Rangers’ 3-2 defeat by the Buffalo Sabres last Tuesday, Sport Express reporter Vasily Osipov met with Anisimov to talk to him about his second season in the NHL.  Their conversation covered Anisimov’s growth as a player, his role on the team, the visit from Nazarov, and his feelings on being the focus of recent trade rumors.  A translation of Osipov’s interview is provided below.

- What was the reason for the loss in the game against [Buffalo,] a principle adversary in the fight to make the playoffs?

- In terms of tension, the game reminded me of a playoff game.  The speeds were crazy, there were battles on every inch of the ice.  The Sabres had more success, most likely, because they converted on their chances.  For the most part, we weren’t able to solve the most valuable player of the last Olympic Games — Ryan Miller.  The American goaltender once again played above all praise.  The defeat, of course, is disappointing, but the situation still depends only on us.  We must not relax at all, and continue to fight for a win in every game, for the playoffs.

- But blame can’t be placed on you — you were very active and effective…

- I’m still working at consistently having one hundred percent concentration on the ice.

- Today, having scored your fourteenth goal, you broke your personal goal-scoring record for a season.  And many experts say that Anisimov has improved very much this year. Who better than you can best reveal the secret of your progress?

- First and foremost it’s due to hard work in practice.  And in general, progress is made up of small components.  For example, the ability to read the play, anticipate an opponent’s actions.  Improvement in each component results in improvement in your play in general.  In addition, I’ve gained experience, which helps one feel more confidence.  So now I get more enjoyment from hockey than a few years ago.

- Do you feel that head coach [John] Tortorella trusts you more?

- Yes, you get those feelings when you’re put out in the final, deciding minutes of a game.  When, in essence, you have no margin for error, and the game’s result depends on you.  At those times the adrenaline is overwhelming.  Post-game shootouts are the same way.  During these moments the coach’s trust is also shown.  I’m very glad that I’m often not left as an extra in the deciding moments of a game.

- Do you worry on the ice like you used to?

- It’s already much less than in my first season, when I often just didn’t know where to go or what to do (laughs).  Now I can control my nerves, even in critical situations.

- At the trade deadline there were persistent rumors that you would be traded to Dallas for the Canadian Brad Richards.  What thoughts did you have that day?

- There was some nervousness, of course.  But I tried not to get caught up in it. I plugged away in practice as usual.  Only in the locker room did the guys tell me that it was a real possibility.  Naturally, I was very happy that the deal ultimately didn’t take place and I remained with the Rangers.  It’ll give me additional strength to prove that their trust in me isn’t in vain, and to help the team win a ticket to the playoffs.

- On the Russian national team you’re no longer relegated to the role of fourth line center.  On the contrary, the coaching staff expects you to be one of the leaders.  Are you ready for such responsibility?

- It’s difficult to talk about it now, because you really need to be in a concrete situation.  So let’s wait and see.

- This coming summer you’ll become a free agent.  Could that influence your prospects to play in Slovakia [at the World Championship]?

- Let’s not rush things.

- And the last question: How did your conversation with [Team Russia assistant coach] Andrei Nazarov, who flew in specifically for the game, go?

- He called in the morning and said that he would wait for me after the game.  [We had] a good, professional talk.  But the details, you’ll excuse me, are not for the press.

Osipov also spoke to Nazarov, who, in addition to his position with the Russian national team, is also head coach of KHL team Vityaz Chekhov.  A translation of their conversation, in which Nazarov discussed not only Anisimov, but also his interest in Rangers tough guy Derek Boogaard, can be found here.

Filed under: Artem Anisimov