As the hockey season is just finished, Evgeni Dadonov of the Florida Panthers has got back to his home town Chelyabinsk to rest after his first North American season. In this interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda he talked about his debut season and about the future.
You said that your dream was to play in the NHL. And at the end of the season it happened.
Evgeni Dadonov: "Yes, it did. At the end season, when Florida had no chances to get to the playoffs. The team's sport director, Jack Birch, said that he wants to see me in the main team. He said that I looked good in Rochester and then they wanted to see me in the NHL. They called me to the Panthers as many first team players were injured. Then they gave me a jersey with the number 63. My teammates welcomed me in the team and they said that they would help me if something would be wrong."
What are the main differences between North American and Russian hockey?
Evgeni Dadonov: "It's more mobile. Rinks are smaller and there is little time to make a decision. Andrei Nazarov in Traktor trained me for such game. There is more pressure, more individual plays. They always say you to not allow the opponents to breath. Everyone fights for a NHL spot and thus they work very hard. I didn't notice many rough plays. And the games in the AHL, where I spent most of the season, are attended by 8-10.000 spectators."
Did you leave Traktor because of a conflict with the head coach? There was a rumor that he fought you during a practice.
Evgeni Dadonov: "No, nothing similar happened. Yes, with Nazarov you have no time to get bored. He bantered me, he scolded me, but he never beat me. There was no conflict. The former Traktor's GM Isaac Valitskiy said to me that I can leave to Florida when I want. That's all."
Do you want to play for Traktor in the next season?
Evgeni Dadonov: "I recently talked with one of the team's directors, Stanislav Mosharov, with general director Vladimir Krechin, with GM Igor Varitsky and head coach Andrei Sidorenko. They said that I have a valid contract with Traktor, and that they want to see me there."
And what did you reply?
Evgeni Dadonov: "I replied that I'll be training for the next season, then I'll go to the US. If Florida guarantees me a spot in the NHL, then I will remain. But if they don't give me NHL guarantees, then I'll get back to Russia and play for Traktor. During the past season, Nikita Filatov and Viktor Tikhonov returned back into the KHL."