On Wednesday, January 18, the President of the hockey club "Donbass" Boris Kolesnikov visited an open training session of the first team at the ice arena "Druzhba", during which he answered many questions from the media.
- Could you share your impressions about the performance of "Donbass" in the Continental Cup?
- Impressions are good, but the result is bad. There is a lot of talk about the prestige of this tournament. From our side, after we failed to win the Continental Cup, it isn’t ethical to continue discussing this subject. I agree with the majority of fans, who are saying that in this tournament there weren’t enough representatives from the KHL and champions from Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Germany... It is incomplete, but God allowing "Donbass", "Sokol" and "Berkut" will definitely win such a trophy in the future and then we will talk about its prestige.
- Where to get new fresh talents for “Donbass”?
- We have got special hockey schools in Donetsk. One of them involves 180 boys and is located in Tekstilshik, the second the newly opened Arena “Almaz” which involves about 150 boys. I think we need about five full value hockey schools in Donetsk. Within a short period of time they are going to repair Arena “Ldinka” which is located behind the “Druzhba”, and hockey club “Donbass” will get one more arena for its Academy. Plus there will be another training arena for the Academy, which will be located between the Kuibishevskiy and Kievskiy districts. We need to create conditions for the junior team. What does Donetsk school mean? The oldest Donbass school player is fourteen years old, do not forget Oleg Tverdovskiy, who is a two-times winner of the of Stanley Cup. We can see that “Donbass-98” is the most mature team. You should remember the names – after four or five years, you will have some players to be proud of. And right now, we have what we have. Of course, we should work hard on quality. But “Donbass” will not look at passports or citizenship. There is, for example, good youth in “Beliy Bars”. They are wonderful guys, but they still have two or three years to mature to the adult group.
All decisions are made by the head coach and his coaching team. I am not getting involved in selection work. I know a couple of Ukrainians, who may enhance the "Donbass".They are Ponikarovsky and Fedotenko. But what kind of motivation should they have to come to our club today? We need to achieve some goals in the Hockey world first in order to be considered a good team.
- You are talking about the youth team, but at the same time, the presence of such a team in the league of MHL is one of the conditions of performance in the Continental Hockey League.
- We have an agreement with Alexander Medvedev, that they will give us two years of delay in creating a team for MHL and three years for the special arena construction. There is no reason for us to be in KHL without the youth team. The point of making a team for MHL isn’t a business of other foreign countries, but still we just must have a great team. We are working on the creation of "Donbass Junior." And I think that since September, the team will already start to play, at least in the Ukrainian Championship.
- Can you say that the Hockey Club "Donbass" will have its own Arena of an equivalent level to "Donbass Arena"?
- "Donbass Arena" is simply unique (smiling). But I can say that we started working with famous companies of the world, who will prepare a proposal, after which we will choose a project. I can say that the capacity of the arena will be not less than 10 thousand spectators. Not less. For how much more - we will discuss it with the fans.
- And where will be its location?
- I would not like to talk about it now. Michel Platini the president of UEFA, told me and Rinat Akhmetov that the main thing – “is that the government executive give you land”. If the mayor will give land to us, I think we will build a modern and comfortable arena for fans.
- What is your activity at the moment in connection with preparation to Euro-2012?
- One thing we have left is the airports. And it's more complicated than the stadiums. If the Champions League allows having a battle-worthy staff of "Donbass Arena", then there are not so many airports of this level in our country. To be honest, the only one is “Boryspil”. That’s why the problem of training the management of airports is a problem number 1. We will have to provide Donetsk airport to the future labor collective by 2d February. The airport of Lvov by January 25th. The Terminal D at “Boryspil” should be finished by the end of the March – early April and after this we will conduct training for personnel.
- What is the concept of the Hockey club?
- Unfortunately, our city isn’t a hockey one. This is not Chelyabinsk nor Voskresensk, where they have traditions of hockey over 50-60 years. That’s why it is more complicated for us. There is no tradition and no such interest. But on the other hand, there is something easier. Mistakes we are making are our mistakes. And we will overcome them with our boys. It’s sounds trite, but there are no victories without a defeat. You need to be stronger and move forward. And if it happens once again that we will be able to win the championship, and will again participate in the Continental Cup, then we will try hard to make our fans happy.
- Perhaps the best way for Ukrainian clubs is to get together and hold the championship, for example, with Belarus?
- Teams from "Barcelona," "Roma," "Milan", are already coming to our city and to have lower levels of hockey team than the championship KHL, we have no moral right to ... But the model, that you are talking about is very interesting. In Belarus, besides "Yunost", there are some strong clubs. This is - "Metallurg", "Neman", "Gomel". We have - "Sokol" "Berkut". I think this model has the right to be considered. The whole question is in the organization. On the same platform of VHL we could collect 15-16 Russian clubs and 3-4 teams from Belarus and Ukraine. But it must be discussed with the management of VHL. Although, I think it would be interesting.
- What challenges do you set for a team in the current High Hockey League Championship? Well, let us say the greatest challenges…
- The greatest challenge is to win the League. “Donbass” should get into the Final, and only after that can we speak reasonably about reaching the certain level and now we must enhance the team up to KHL level. But if we, God Forbid, drop out at the quarter-final play-off stage, in that case what KHL can we talk about? The Olympic principle “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the taking part that counts” - is good, but for hockey and for “Donbass” it is unacceptable. A lot was written about how it was the first time for a Ukrainian club to play in the European Cup Final. Experienced fans certainly remember that in 1986 Kiev Club “Sokol” being the USSR Championship Bronze Winner played in the Spengler Cup. And it was an important tournament. And they lost only to the Canadian national team with European players on their roster. So a Ukrainian club has already played in a European Cup at a very high level. Young fans think that the bronze medal of the USSR Championship – wasn’t a great success actually, but in the country where such clubs like ”CSKA”, “Dinamo” “ Spartak” and “Krilya Sovetov” all represented Moscow, it was a great achievement for the Ukrainian Club. “Sokol” team has traditions, but it doesn’t have ambitions for now. It is temporary. There should be 4-5 clubs in the Championship. And, schools of course. If we want to create a club here, we should recruit 1000-1200 children to the Academy. It is an optimum amount. It is according to our Swedish specialist, who is the head of the Academy. Why did we invite a Swede? The whole world is now discussing that the Swedes have the best skating practice. It is necessary to practice skating from the childhood. It is impossible to learn skating at the age of 15.
- How do you think would it be possible within our city not to cross football and hockey fans interests or they are the same people?
- I wouldn’t make a comparison between football and hockey. In hockey everything is set in a different way. In hockey, leagues are at the first place – NHL, KHL, powerful national championships… they have their own specific features. It is necessary to reach this level. It is necessary to set up traditions, and our fans will be interested. Usually about 4000 are gathered for the main matches. And this is the HHL. People who like ice hockey understand the difference between the HHL and KHL. It is significant. And as for the clubs budgets – the HHL “Donbass” and ”Rubin” are almost equal to the clubs who don’t take the first places in KHL. So we should work. Let the players win the HHL first, and then we will discuss it. But there will be nothing to discuss, having taken the first-second place – we must play in KHL.
- So in the case of winning in the HHL semi-final, can we put a title: “Donbass passes to KHL”?
- And you thought that we would pass to the final and give everything up? I can tell you without doubt that if we won the League for the first time, it means that we played in a very decent way, didn’t let down our fans, thereafter we will discuss it with the coaches – how do they view the club in KHL. But if we take only sixth place for example in the HHL, there are no reasons for optimism. Of course, we would like our own small kids to become older as quick as possible, but generally speaking we had ice hockey school from 1975 up to 1985 and it graduated world class hockey players. Another question is the price parity. If in USSR times the kid puck cost 1,5 RUB, an adult one – from 5 RUB, with the salary about 150-180 RUB, and now a kid puck costs from 100 USD, an adult from 200 USD. But anyway club financing is our problem. And as for mass ice hockey – we should take into consideration the climate conditions. Now we work with the Swiss, who are about reaching the level of 90% of an artificial ice sliding. And as for the club I think we will open a new ice arena by the 1st of September here, near Druzhba Hockey Arena, and we will plan to build a new one. The first one will be for the Voroshilovskiy and Kalininskiy Districts, and another one will be for The Kievskiy and Kuybishevskiy Districts.
- Is any recruitment expected this year in the club or on the contrary are the coaching team not satisfied with anybody?
- As soon as we talk about the recruitment, at once new questions appear. It is necessary to provide new players with the vivid guarantee of playing in the KHL. In that case hockey players from Moscow, Kazan, St. Petersburg will have a motivation. But unless we win the tournament, as soon as we speak about recruitment, this hockey player will be invited by a KHL club. So, let us finish the tournament first, and after that we will discuss the recruitment.
Press-service of HC Donbass