Q&A With Ivan Telegin



Editors Note: After talking with Alex Burmistrov for Jets Nation, Andrey Osadchenko was able to catch up to recently signed prospect Ivan Telegin. Topics include Telegin’s improved offensive numbers, playing in the OHL, the world junior championships and his goals for next season.

– Comparing your stats from the last season to your rookie year, one can’t help but notice that you significantly improved the number of your assists. Last season you improved this number by more than 2 times. How did you make it possible?

I think it happened because I changed my game a little bit. If you take a look at my rookie season stats, you’ll see that I scored more goals than this season. I didn’t take as many shots on net as I used to. Instead, I tried to help my teammates to score. Especially in the second half of the season.

– As a playmaker, what differences have you noticed between North American and Russian forwards?

I would say the biggest difference is skill. I know a Russian forward when I see one. For instance, take Vlad Namestnikov who plays for the London Knights. It’s obvious he’s Russian just by the way he plays.

– A lot of Russian players get annoyed when they come to North America and have to deal with dump and chase.

It doesn’t happen a lot, actually. I rarely see guys dump it in and skate towards a defenseman to engage into a battle for a puck with him. Usually, everybody gets into offensive end by passing. During my rookie season I saw a few teams that would do it, but more skilled teams didn’t play dump and chase. On the contrary, they played in a very similar style we play in Russia. They looked more skilled.

– North American goalies are known for being more skilled than Russians technique-wise. Does it mean that they are more difficult to score on?

I really can’t say much about it. I’m not a goalie, you know. I know nothing about their technique. Besides, I haven’t played in Russia for 2 years, so it’s hard for me to compare. All I can say is that I found North American goalies a little easier to score on in my rookie season.

– What would you say was the highlight of your last season?

Let me think about it. Hm, I’d say it was the game against the Owen Sound Attack late in the season. We were down 3-4. I managed to tie it up in the dying seconds of the third period. In the end, we won in a shootout. It was a huge win for us. At that time we were competing with them for a top spot in our division. I think, this was my best game in the last season.

– Yet Saginaw Spirit got eliminated in the second round by the Windsor Spitfires in 6 games. What prevented you from going further in the play-offs?

It’s hard to tell. I think we had a better team. We should have passed them. Unfortunately, we underestimated the opponent and got ourselves into situation where we couldn’t afford to lose anymore. In game 6 they outshot us and played much better overall. We weren’t ready for that game.

– You moved to North America with a very little command of English language. Did it get any better since then?

Basically, I don’t have any problems in this regard. I can speak and understand English. It’s all good. I also keep working on it, so it’s going to get even better.

– Is it true that they had billboards with your image in Saginaw?

It is. I think they were 3 billboards around the town. There was a big picture of me and a line that said: “Have you seen the Russian bull?” (laughter). I thought it was pretty funny.

– How would you describe Saginaw as a town?

It’s a small community. I don’t even know the exact number of local population. Everybody knows each other. They’re all good people. No matter where you’d go people would say hi and wish you good luck. It’s amazing. I really liked it.

– So people would often recognize you on the streets?

Well, I wouldn’t say it happened all the time, but every now and then, yes, they would. Usually I would go for a walk with the team’s owner. He always would be like: “Hey! Let me introduce you to Ivan. He plays for the Spirit and Team Russia”. He introduced me to a lot of people. There was a funny story once. Our entire team went to a restaurant where were supposed to be waiters for the night. There was one girl that came up to me and told me she loved me (laughter). I got really shy, gave her a smile and didn’t say anything.

– How else would you spend your spare time, aside from serving tables?

I’d hang with either the Spirit’s owner or my friends. In fall we usually played golf. In winter we’d go to the movies or chill at home playing videogames.

– And by videogames you certainly mean NHL 11?

Yes, it was either this or golf.

– Where do you perform better – in real life or in NHL 11?

(laughter) Well, I wouldn’t say I’m awesome when it comes to NHL 11 but I’m okay. There are CHL teams as well, so we usually played for them. It’s fun to take a look at yourself as a third person.

– You played for Team Russia in the World Juniors 2 years ago in Saskatchewan. Yet you didn’t play last year in Buffalo. Why do you think you weren’t called up?

It’s a little bit incorrect to say that I wasn’t called up. I was invited to the training camp. But 2 weeks prior to the Juniors I got injured. So my agent called Valery Bragin [Team Russia’s head-coach] and told him I couldn’t come. If it wasn’t for the injury, I could have made the team.

– Did you follow this tournament closely?

Of course. I cheered personally for the guys from my hometown – Dmitri Orlov and Maxim Kitsyn. I congratulated them both after the final. I was really happy for them.

– Were there any conflicts in your team because of the fact you cheered for the Russians?

No, no conflicts whatsoever. They were all shocked. They couldn’t understand how in the world did this happen. They couldn’t believe that Canadians didn’t manage to hold on to their big lead. We joked about it afterwards but in a friendly manner.

– Recently you signed a 2-way deal with the Jets. Did you expect them to make you an offer?

I did. The negotiations began in February. I was eager to sign this contract and it finally happened a few days ago. It made me really happy. To be honest, I was getting tired from all the waiting. I think, I may have been signed earlier if the Thrashers hadn’t moved to Canada.

– Where are you going to play if you won’t make it to the Jets’ roster this season?

I think I’m going to be sent down to the juniors because I’m too young to play in the AHL.

– What do you think about the Thrashers’ relocation to Winnipeg?

I don’t mind it at all. Although, I’ve never had a training camp there. We’ll see what it’s like. I’m coming to Canada next week to train with my junior team and after that I’m going to the Jets’ training camp.

– Are you concerned about the cold weather in Winnipeg? It’s legendary.

Why should I be afraid of cold? It’s not cold if you play. Besides, I’m from Siberia. I’m not going to have any issues with the cold.

– Curiously enough, you were traded from Saginaw to Alex Burmistrov’s former team – the Barrie Colts – about a month ago. Is it just a coincidence?

Pretty much. I got a call from my agent and he told me the Colts wanted to me to play for them. He told me: “Take your time and think about it. If you want to, you can stay in Saginaw”. I gave it some thought and decided to move to Barrie. A little change won’t hurt, you know?

– The Jets revealed their new logo a couple of days ago. What do you think about it?

I liked it. There’s nothing else to add.

– For 2 years you played for an American team. However, most of the nights you would face Canadian teams. Are there a lot of differences between Canadian and American fans?

I think so, yes. Canadian fans are better. They love their hockey more. Even though, both Canada and the US are hockey countries, Canadian fans are more into the game.

– Have you noticed that Canadian fans behave a little different when their team play against an American team?

I did notice that. I don’t know how to explain it, though. For example, when we played in Canada, the fans always sang their national anthem. In Saginaw I rarely heard American anthem sung.

– What are your goals for the upcoming season?

My main goal is to make it to the Jets’ roster. If I won’t be able to do this, I’d love to play at the World Juniors. The way I play is going to be the defining factor.

  • PhillipSmithson

    That’s one confident young man. Doubt we’ll see him in the NHL this season, but if plays his cards right it won’t take him too long. Playing for Hawerchuk in Barrie won’t hurt either. Dale is on speed dial with the Managers in Winnipeg so there will be plenty of updates on Ivan through-out the season.