Washington Capitals’ defenseman Dmitry Orlov was recently interviewed by Alena Grebenkova of Sports Express Russia. Orlov discussed his return to Russia following the pause in play on March 12, working out at home, his top three career highlights and the team’s motivation for winning a second Stanley Cup.
AG of SER: With the only hockey news being Ovechkin playing Gretzky in NHL20, did you watch that matchup?
DO: Honestly, I didn’t watch it, but I knew that it would take place. They did a great thing in collecting money [for charity]. And for the fans it was nice to see those two legendary hockey players playing together. With everyone is sitting at home, this is a nice bonus for hockey fans.
AG of SER: Did anyone on the team’s chat tease him about losing the first game to Gretzky?
DO: (Laughs) Not really
AG of SER: I understand Kuznetsov is representing Washington in the NHL Cyber Tournament, which the league [NHL] organized.
DO: Yes, I saw it on the news. People are trying to come up with new things to do, given that the usual rhythm of life is gone. You have to come up with something.
AG of SER: Regarding the continuation of the NHL season, opinions seem to be divided. Some think it’s blasphemy to think about hockey when many are fighting for survival. Others think that playing out [the season] is a must. No one wants to lose money. What do you think of it?
DO: Once the virus calms down, things will be more clear. After all, nothing depends on us. Decisions will be made by other people. But judging from the news, the epidemic in America is not in decline. Of course, I would like to finish the season and determine the winner of the Stanley Cup. We have done a great job. Hockey is our life and work. But we don’t think about it, yet. The most important thing now is to protect your family and friends. Everyone can get sick. Everyone is at risk. Plus, many people are going through a difficult time. Our main job today is to withstand quarantine.
AG of SER: Who do you think is Washington’s main competitor for the Stanley Cup this season?
DO: We have few games left, but until recently, it was not clear as to who would enter the playoffs and who would not. It’s hard to single out one main competitor. In our division, the teams are usually close together, so it’s not known how it will all end.
AG of SER: Ovechkin said that he would start with the playoffs [when season resumes]. Do you agree with him?
DO: I think that it would be better to finish the regular season. Then there wouldn’t be talk that other teams [i.e. those on the bubble] were not given a chance. I think that the season will simply end in accelerated mode. The playoff series, wrong as I think is, will also be made shorter.
AG of SER: Recently you said that the first month of hockey will be just awful. How long will it take for players to get in shape?
DO: It’s different for everyone. The main thing now is not to overdo it and not to overload the body. Killing the body makes no sense. It is not known when we will begin practice again. As soon as we are provided with some information, we will begin to work hard. The hardest thing is when there is no ice training. It will be more difficult for us to regain our previous rhythm.
AG of SER: Are you in a Moscow apartment now?”
DO: Yes, we returned to Russia and stayed in quarantine here with my family. When I flew here, I had to get tested for Coronavirus. They called me from the clinic and took a swab for a test for coronavirus. Thank God, I tested negative.
AG of SER: Are any normal workouts possible at home?
DO: I have a personal trainer I’m working with. We are constantly in touch. He corrects certain points of my workout. I also bought home sports equipment in order to at least somehow keep myself in shape, so I can work out. We have a few more things that we are working on. I try to get as much out of my workout as I can, even on the porch. (laughs)
AG of SER: [Artemi] Panarin said joking that if the escrow gets increased by too much, he will miss the next season [and returning to the KHL]. Are you not worried about your salary?
DO: I am sure that everyone is worried about it. Of course, I would not want the escrow to be any higher. But to prevent this, everyone wants to complete the season in order to avoid big losses [in revenue].
AG of SER: I hear the NHL will, most likely, try to finish the season without spectators.
DO: It is very sad. As everyone says, we play for the fans. This is a trite phrase. But, in fact, without them, there would be no such energy. I would not want to play in the empty stands. When our relatives are attending the games, we try to please them and enjoy the game. Okay, in childhood, we played only for our parents. But now, in such an atmosphere, it will be difficult.
AG of SER: Two other guys from Novokuznetsk, [Kirill] Kaprizov and [Ilya] Sorokin are going to the NHL. What do you expect from them in the first season?
DO: The main thing is that these guys have the confidence of their coach. Kaprisov is a good player and has a good head on his shoulders. He can join the team with no issue. Plus, his game is improving every year. With goalkeepers it’s a different situation. There is a lot of competition, as a lot of people trying to claim one sport. But Sorokin is also a skilled goaltender. They both played for the national team, so the guys have enough experience. I think it only takes a little time to adapt.
AG of SER: When you left for the NHL, there were places overseas to keep players [farm teams, such as the Hershey Bears]. This team’s roster can exceed 25 people. Is this normal? After all, most of them will play in the AHL?
DO: Everyone knows what is best for themselves. Therefore, they make their own decisions, taking risks. Some players simply stop seeing themselves in the KHL and believe that, even in the AHL, they will get better. But this [AHL] is also a pretty good league. I played there, and it was not easy for me. It all depends on the age of the player. If he is 20 years old, then you can still try it out. And if older, I think it is better to stay in the KHL and play at a certain level.
AG of SER: Dmitry Jaskin decided to stay in the KHL. Did you discuss this decision with him?
DO: Yes, we talked about this topic. I am glad that he had such a good season at Dynamo. In this situation, he made the right decision – to stay. It’s not known what will happen to the season in the NHL and the salary ceiling. No one knows how much money the clubs will have left after quarantine. So, this is the right choice. Perhaps Dima will become even better at the KHL level and then return to the NHL.
AG of SER: It is clear that the season in the NHL is not over. Who would you give the Hart Trophy for the best player of the season, today?
DO: Draisaitl and McDavid are having great seasons. They feel each other perfectly on the ice and it’s hard to play against them. I would also say Mackinnon and Panarin. I think these guys are the top 4 this season.
AG of SER: I recently talked to Kovalchuk about the three best moments in his career. What moments would you highlight?
DO: Winning the Stanley Cup, winning 2011 World Youth Championship, and playing in my first NHL game. Any player would be waiting for this moment. And I am very glad that everything in my life turned out that way.
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Дорогие друзья! Огромное спасибо, что разделили с нами наш праздник! Для нас это значимое и большое событие! Ещё раз приносим искренние извинения за задержку с кубком! И спасибо за понимание, мы старались сделать все максимально быстро! Спасибо за тёплый приём! Нашим родным, друзьям, тренерам, отдельная благодарность! Вы сделали наш праздник, наш день! Мы никогда не забудем этот праздник! P.S. Лена @govor_elena , тебе и твоим родным, отдельная благодарность, если бы не ваша помощь, то не известно когда бы кубок был в Новокузнецке!
AG of SER: What is your biggest disappointment?
DO: When I was injured at the 2014 World Championships in Minsk.
AG of SER: Vladimir Tarasenko recently said that your generation spent all your time on the street. So learned the rules of life faster, as in had to fight on the street and quickly grow up. Do those who enter in the NHL now behave and think differently? For example: Samsonov, or Sergachev?
DO: Today’s generation, of course, is slightly different. But specifically, these guys are also from the outback [Siberia]. Therefore, they are more like us. They also spent a lot of time on the street during their childhood. But it all depends on the upbringing, on their parents and their abilities. But, of course, the new generation is the e-sports generation. Time is running. Since childhood, children have iPads, phones and other gadgets. We didn’t have it. My child is not yet a year old, and he is already clutching at the remote control and the phone.
AG of SER: Last year, Washington had a small Stanley Cup hangover. Was there a strong motivation to win this year?
DO: I would not say that in the past year there was a hangover (laughs). We also wanted to repeat as champions. But the team was not in the best condition, physically [due to injuries], because of this we regressed. It would be hard to win. But I think that the series with Carolina turned out to be quite good. We ourselves are to blame for the fact that we lost an important game, where we were leading with the score 2-0 or 3-0. But this year, of course, everyone is angry, hungry. We have new guys who have joined the team, quite well. Everyone tried to play for each other. I don’t know how we would have done in the playoffs, but I think it would be interesting. Let’s see what happens. We have motivation. Winning is always a pleasure – these are positive emotions and happy memories.
AG of SER: Have you watched the MFM [IIHF World Junior Championships] this year?
DO: At that time, we were in the locker room and watched the final on Canadian channels. I also managed to watch the game with the Swedes when we [the Russian team] won.
AG of SER: And Tarasenko watched on the sports channel and, only seeing himself on the ice, he realized that this is not the same game.
DO: I heard this story. For fun, I also watched this game. Perhaps those people who are not big fans of hockey could see the final of 2011 and not understand what is happening. Some people simply don’t know the names of the players. But, they were glad that the Russian team won (laughs).
AG of SER: You [Washington Capitals] have a general chat. Many left the Washington area while others stayed there. How do you cheer on each other now?
DO: Yes, we constantly communicate. Everything is positive. Quarantine also has advantages in that everyone can spend time with their families. Usually we have a lot of away games, and we rarely see our children. When I arrive home, he [my son Kyrill] is already sleeping. And now we are together every day and my son sees me and smiles. He even started to find out (laughs ). You need to take the best out of any situation.
AG of SER: How much did you miss hockey?
DO: In fact, I missed hockey. But to say that I can no longer wait to play is also impossible. I have not thought about it yet. We need time to skate in order to get ourselves back in shape. God willing, quarantine will end soon, and we will continue to live a normal life.
By Diane Doyle