Barry Melrose: “Filatov came to the NHL too early” (Photo © Doug Benc, Getty Images)
In this translated interview with Telekanal Sport by Vladimir Italyantsev, Barry Melrose, former NHL head coach and now TSN analyst, talks about Filatov’s career in the NHL, about the reasons of his return in Russia and tried shading a light over Nikita’s future.
– What do you think about Filatov’s decision to return to Russia?
– I think it’s not a thoughtful act from his side. But what is even harder to understand is why Columbus signed this player at all. With Ken Hitchcock as coach it’s very tough for finesse players like Filatov to make the team.
– But what about Rick Nash, another finesse player?
– Nash is bigger and he can hit. This is not what you can say about Filatov. To tell you more, Columbus is just not his team. And probably NHL too. Filatov came to the NHL too early, he didn’t understand its traditions, didn’t know who was Ken Hitchcock and what style of hockey his teams play. Filatov wasn’t ready to play under Hitchcock’s system.
– But do you think that Filatov will ever come back?
– You can never tell. Nowadays a lot of players negotiate contracts with KHL and NHL teams at the same time. Players just tell their NHL teams: “If you don’t give me a lot of ice-time and a good contract, then I’m going to the KHL”. Nice, isn’t it?
– But at the same time Maxim Afinogenov decided to try his luck in the NHL after failing previous season. And now he’s shining for the Thrashers.
– The reason is that his previous team, Buffalo, plays more defensive hockey. While Atlanta with players like Ilya Kovalchuk and Vyacheslav Kozlov spends more time in attack. That’s just what Afinogenov needs.
– You said that Hitchcock oppresses technique sound players. But Steven Stamkos, who played under you earlier in his career, recently claimed that you didn’t give him a chance to show his worth.
– He can claim whatever he wants. This kid has a lot to work on. He’s having a good start, especially compared to last year, but we’ll see where he ends up at the end of the regular season.