"If you look at the game of Andree Hult, it’s hard to call him purely a Swedish hockey player – we had recently heard him described thus from one of the local hockey professionals. - After playing in Russia, he retained some of the Swedish skating, but has already managed to pick up something from the «Soviet" hockey school”.
Andree, a 24-year-old Swede has arrived at Donetsk with a small "luggage". During his short-lived career, he has managed to play in three countries and has played at least two levels of the championships in Sweden, Russia and the Major League Championships in Slovakia. Since he became the first recruit from far abroad, Hult, like many other new players, has joined the team during the current championship VHL with a great desire to grow and evolve with the rapidly developing Ukrainian club. To fill in the gaps in knowledge about the recruits, Andre was asked to introduce himself as fully as possible.
- I started to play hockey when I was about five years old. I come from the Swedish town of Burlänge. By car it is about two hours north of the capital of Sweden - Stockholm. Burlänge is a small town. The population is about 40-45 thousand people. Quite simply it is the most normal of Swedish towns. When I was about 13 years old, I was determined that I was going to play hockey. Until then I had a choice: I played football and hockey. When I chose to play hockey, I moved to the nearby town of Mora. There was a hockey and boarding school. Once the team reached a high level and began to play in Elitserien. I signed a two-year contract with them and played there for two years. I have an older brother, Alexander. He was selected by the club, "the San Jose Sharks" at the NHL Entry Draft in 2003. However, two years ago, he decided to finish with hockey and began playing poker online. He lives in Las Vegas now and my parents live in Burlänge. I don’t have a wife or girlfriend yet. That’s the story of my youth.
- Which one from the two of you (you and your brother) decided to play hockey first?
- Alexander decided first. He was considered a talent. I’ve always tried to work hard everywhere, but always remained in the shadow of my brother, because the oldest is always in front. I've always been interested in competing with him, and when we had a chance to play in the "Bofors" together, and we played a few games in one link, then I was able to prove that I am better. Later on, Alexander walked away from hockey, and I continue my career.
- Children’s hockey schools and the training of young players in Sweden – is a topic for another discussion. What were your first lessons about?
- In my case, I was 10 years old when I started serious training. My father was a coach in the children's hockey school. He loved to learn all the most advanced techniques, always went to conferences, traveled to other schools, absorbed the best and was giving it to us. Three times a week we had a training session, where we were studying individual technics of skating and analyzing different game situations.
- Andree is a French name, and Alexander is a Greek name. What was the reason your parents called you that? Who have you been named after?
- My brother was born big, so our parents called him Alexander the Great in a funny way. As for my name, to be honest, I have no idea.
- I would like to ask about your brother once again, tell me, is he was the one who helped you to move from Sweden to Russia's HC "Dimitrov"? I heard that Alexander played in the club shortly before you arrived?
- When I played in the club, "Mora", which appeared in the Elitserien, I could not manage to find common ground with the trainer. Sometimes things happen. He often left me on the bench and did not let me play. I can say that we did not get along together. When I moved into the second league club the "Bofors" and became the top scorer, the team coach rearranged me to the fourth link, 15 rounds before the end of the championship. I think it was because I was close to signing a contract with the first team, "Mora." I lost the game and began to practice badly and scoreless. As a result, at the end of the season I lost the deal with the "Mora”. Then I called my agent, a Swede, but who lives in Russia. I asked him for advice and how can I get out of this situation and he suggested. I move to Russia. It was good for my future development. I agreed. The agent suggested HC "Dimitrov", because it was the same club where my brother was playing earlier, so they knew us well. After a little while three of my game mates followed me and moved to the club. How did it happen that my brother joined HC “Dimitrov”? Alexander has always been a fan of "adventure." He has played for approximately 25 clubs during his hockey career.
- We partly consider your move to Perm as an "extreme experience". Ural is not so far away from Siberia, and as far as we know the horrification of Siberia is a favorite Russian topic for Europe. How did you get to "Molot-Prikamie"?
- In the summer of 2009, me and Kenneth Berkvist signed contracts with the Moscow region "Chimik", which performed in the KHL. However, the team ran into financial difficulties and its future was unclear. They were going to continue playing in the Second League, although the 2009-2010 seasons they spent in the Highest League. At this time, my agent suggested Perm to me. I checked where it was on the map and realized that it was far away to the east and its mountains, almost Siberia. So I called my friend and suggested he try and move with me, because I was worried about going there alone. When we arrived there and began to play, we saw that the level of hockey was pretty good. We joined the team, we played the game and fans were sympathetic to us. We played in the "Molot" for 1year and decided to stay for one more, because there was a chance for the team to get in the KHL.
- Perm has a very interesting logo - an attacking angry bear. If you sent this picture from Siberia to your home, it could seriously scare people...
- I often "joke" about it, and have already sent this picture to Sweden many times. As soon as my relatives, friends, or other close people see this design, they ask me if I am alright. Their thoughts about Russia are fundamentally flawed. They thought that the bears walk through the streets, I am making a fire right in my room and everything around is constantly dark. I told everyone: "Stop talking nonsense”. Everything is not the same as you imagine it to be. Come to Russia and you will see! "My opinion and view of Russia changed completely after I had been playing there and living. All the scary things that people know about Russia are absolutely untrue.
- How important for your career were the two years at “Molot Prikamie”?
- I grew up as a player and as a person. I was alone, living away from home. There was also moral pressure, and stress, because I had to play, we had to score, because if you do not do your job, you can be fired. I didn’t want that. It’s predictable; if a Russian team signs a contract with a player from abroad, they are expecting from him to play better than their players or recruits from other neighboring countries. They all believe that even a Swede must work 150 per cent. This is both good and bad. You are under constant pressure, but you are always developing as a person and as a hockey player.
- The next club in your career was Slovak “Lev”. How did you get into Poprad?
- We signed two contracts with “Molot-Prikamie”. One was for HHL, the other for KHL. Of course, we wanted to develop and play in a stronger championship. I can’t tell for sure, but there was a situation when “Molot” didn’t progress to the KHL, so we decided to use a contract clause and try ourselves at “Lev”, which was going to play in the KHL. A Russian agent helped us to move to Slovakia. First we had a trial, and then after two weeks I was offered a new contract. There were two ways of signing – KHL and Slovak League. I played all pre-season with the KHL team and when the new season started, two new forwards came to the team. Due to this I and two other players from the KHL team were taken to the Slovak League team. I started playing in the local championship. I played 1,5 month and after I was offered the following terms – If I wanted to play in the Slovakia League team, I had to break the contract with the KHL team; if I didn’t do it in this way, I wouldn’t play very often. It frustrated me. I was disappointed. When one signs a contact one expects that playing well means progressing to the first team, but in that situation it was something strange. I wanted to play in the KHL and didn’t agree with these conditions, so I decided to leave the team.
- Could we say that you made an effort to establish yourself in “Lev”?
- I tried several times to speak to the Coach, who persuaded me that I would play in the first team, but actually I didn’t have any chance. I didn’t want to stay in the Slovakian League because I wanted to better my level of playing.
- How did it happen that you came to the “Donbass” team?
- Staying in Slovakia, I asked my agent to find me new clubs. He told me that there was an opportunity to continue playing in the lead team in the Russia HHL. He told me that there were positive opinions concerning this team. I got to know that “Donbass” represents a big Ukrainian city, and looked through the roster. Everything about this team seemed pleasant. When I got the information about “Donbass”, I asked my agent to sign the contract. It was a well-considered balanced decision. Now I am here.
- Looking through the roster did you see anybody familiar?
- Only Vladislav Egin. We played together in “Molot-Prikamie”.
- What impressions do you have about Ukraine? What new things have you learnt?
- I understood that there is much in common between Ukraine and Russia. I like Donetsk very much. It is a big city and it is being built and developed. Of course it is difficult to get used to the team, when you don’t know anybody. One acquaintance is good but not enough. I can’t speak Russian well, but I’ll try to learn it. But anyway I adapted very quickly because the guys are very friendly and kind. Many players speak English, and it helps.
- You made your Donbass debut in the match against “Lokomotiv” Yaroslavl. Did everything that you saw at the rink live up your expectations? Did you imagine Donbass in action like this?
- Before coming to Donetsk I was in Sweden for two weeks. I didn’t have the opportunity to practice with anybody unfortunately. When I first came here and went to the locker room the team sat on their "suitcases" and were planning to leave for Yaroslavl. As a result of it, I first managed to get on the ice only in the morning before the game with the "locomotive" and only for 20 minutes. I was very upset about this, because of the lack of training, long flights, no one will benefit. In addition, the coach immediately put me in the game. It was hard, but I think I didn’t look like a novice in that game, even though I wasn’t playing to my full potential. I really wanted to show my teammates what I can do, and that they can count on me.
- Did you feel the fact that Sergei Varlamov and Denis Kochetkov had been playing together for a long time when you first joined the link?
- For me this is a big responsibility. Every time I play with them in the same link, I can feel that they cooperate well together. Every game I am trying to play my best so that I won’t lower their playing level and instead I am supporting them and growing along with them.
- If your relatives ask you “How is your life”? What will you answer them?
- I will answer them: "Normalno" (this word was said by Andre Hult in fluent Russian) I was surprised, because everything is built on a professional level. People at the office and the teams are friendly and trying to help, Vladislav Egin helped me to choose an apartment... Everything is all right.
- If we count all years you have spent in Russia, it would be around 5 years. Does anybody call you Russian in Sweden?
- Something like that (laughs). My friends and relatives were planning to come over to visit me, but to get a visa to Russia is pretty complicated, and many could not deal with this paperwork to arrive for a couple of games. But it’s different in Ukraine… a lot easier!
- How good are you in Russian? Is it enough to understand the coach if he is complaining about something and to pretend that you understand him?
- (He Laughs). In fact, I know quite a lot but it’s hard to speak. I can express myself in the store, restaurant or taxi. I understand clearly everything what the coach says to me in Russian during the games or training.
- For many players to play in the NHL - is the most sacred dream. If it never happens, will you assume that your career is a failure?
- NHL - this is certainly a dream. It’s very hard to get there. But for now I have other goals - to get into the KHL.
- What about the Bratina Cup this year? Is it in your plans?
- I really would like to become a winner of VHL. I think our team not only deserves to play in the Final; we should be part of it. From what I can see now the VHL includes many teams of a high level, and the level of the VHL became higher recently, but HC "Donbass" stands out from the all the teams and is better suited to the level of the Continental Hockey League.
- What can fans expect from Andree Hult in the near future?
- I'll try to play even better to help the team reach the final playoff in the High Hockey League.
December 5, 1987
Career: Lev (Poprad, Slovakia, 2011-2012), Molot-Prikamie (Perm, 2010-2011), Oktan (Perm), Molot-Prikamie (Perm, 2009-2010), HC Dimitrov (Dimitrov, Russia, 2008-2009), Bofors (Karlskoga, Sweden, 2007-2008), Mora (Mora, Sweden, 2003-2007).
Press Service of HC "Donbass"