Vyacheslav Bykov: “Sixty percent of today’s roster will play in Sochi” (Photo © RIA Novosti/Vladimir Fedorenko)
After the 2-1 loss to Czech Republic in the 2010 World Championship in Germany, Vyacheslav Bykov gave an interview to the popular Russian website Sovietsky Sport. Bykov stated that the sixty percent of today’s roster will be playin in the 2014 Olympics, talked about his future with the Russian national team, tried to analyze the reasons of the defeat and also talked about the foreigners policy within the KHL.
Bykov: “This was a dramatic game for us, since the first seconds of it. We allowed such an early goal. Fortune smiled our opponents when they needed it more. It took us a lot of time to get a chance to beat the Czech defense. And it wasn’t easy at all. Their goalkeeper [Tomas] Vokoun had a brilliant game. Our players didn’t manage to realize their moments, even if we had not a few of them. But anyway I’ve thanked the guys because they fought till the last second. I’ve told them that the Silver is a product of their hard work and it’s worthy of respect. I express regrets to our fans…we tried hard, but luck wasn’t on our side today.”
What’s next for Team Russia and in particular for its staff?
Bykov: “We arrived here to get a medal, and it looks like we reached our goal. But any medal but the Gold one gives you a bitter taste in the mouth. We are upset. In the first instance we are upset because we couldn’t give joy to our fans. But my future will be discussed by the Russian Hockey Federation and the Minister of Sports.”
Do you want to stay at the head of the national team?
Bykov: “I didn’t think about this yet.”
After the game you got a call from Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.
Bykov: “He congratulated the team – all the players and the coaches – for the silver medal. He thanked us for the good job. Because we got a decent result. He emphasized that the most important thing is not to get back to the level of the 90s, where Russia rarely got medals. And two golds and a silver in a row it’s not bad, really not bad. He understood that all the players are upset, but he did want to congratulate them all.”
Did the President talk about your future within the national team?
Bykov: “I don’t want to discuss this matter now.”
Today’s defeat in the final match was a casuality due to casual circumstances?
Bykov: “It’s hard to reply to this question. We created scoring chances and our players performed at a good level. We had to score! But we couldn’t…We have to give credit to the Czechs. They deserve the title of World Champions. They had a difficult path through the tournament. They deserved to win.”
This tournament looked a bit like the ones from the 80s, where Swedes, Czechs and Finns played without NHL players. And everyone was expecting the first place from Team Russia. Do you agree?
Bykov: “I don’t want to get involved into polemics concerning other teams. In the 2000 [World Championship in St. Petersburg] we had a line up full of stars and we could only get the 11th place in that home tournament. Why now we try to cancel the merits of the young guys who arrived to the tourney and worn the national team’s jersey? They made their duties of citizens, they gladdened the fans. Why we want to cancel all this?”
Do you think that the second place is your personal failure?
Bykov: “A failure is the eleventh place, as I said earlier. But the second place is surely bitter, because it’s not the first.”
But your roster was considerably stronger than the others.
Bykov: “Do you want me to resign right now?”
Your contract will run out in August.
Bykov: “Then wait till August. Or maybe until the executive committee will take an official decision.”
Will you go there?
Bykov: “If I have to then I’ll go.”
Don’t you think that combining the work with the national team and the work with a KHL club was a wrong decision?
Bykov: “No. Undoubtely no. Absolutely no.”
Do you still have motivations to work with the national team?
Bykov: “I need to sit and think. Even more so that it’s not up to me only, but it’s also up to the federation.”
If you could get back to the start of the tournament and change something, would you correct anything?
Bykov: “I don’t think so. Up to the finals we made the correct steps and we got the results. Even before the final I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Let’s say that [Alexander] Ovechkin didn’t start scoring on the powerplay playing as defenseman.
Bykov: “We are patient. Sooner or later Alex would have scored [this way]. But during this tournament it didn’t happen. Well, our hopes don’t come true every time. But in any case this was a plus for the team. Ovechkin’s appearance in our powerplay put further pressure on the opposition. Well, he had a couple of bad games…But the guys played to win.
Don’t you think that the goalie had some mistakes in the final game? We allowed the first goal too quickly.
Bykov: “No. We had no regrets about letting Semyon [Varlamov]’s play. The goals weren’t his fault.”
How does Fedorov feel?
Bykov: “He picked up a concussion. He doesn’t feel very well. And [Artem] Anisimov has a broken hand. He couldn’t hold the stick even after an injection. Many players played with injuries.”
Some people took off the silver medal immediately after the ceremony. And you arrived to the press conference without it. Maybe the silver medal was so bad that you wanted to put it in the pocket?
Bykov: “Maybe, no…But you can understand us. Our aim was to get the gold medal. We fought hard for it for the whole year. And then it steamed away. Emotions had the best of us. Bitterly…”
Your career with the National Team started with the 2007 World Championship in Moscow, where we got only a bronze medal. Now your team got a silver. What was worse?
Bykov: “Of course, having lost in the finals, you can joke yourself out, for example, say that we are the winners among losers. But for the Russian national team this is sad, especially now.”
Even before the finals you said that the higher level of our rivals is a consequence of their play in the KHL. And the final game confirmed that since goals and assists came only from KHL players.
Bykov: “If the FHR and the KHL don’t reach a mutual understanding then we won’t have hockey anymore in Russia. In the clubs the place of Russians is took by foreigners, teams can already dress six of them, soon going up to seven, without considering Latvians, Belarusians, Kazakhs, which aren’t counted. And what happens? Youngsters will start going away. Simply, there is no space for them in the KHL. Are we going to be better than the NHL soon? Instead of that we’ll be in a hole. Into a very deep hole.
Can you explain us why?
Bykov: “Because then we won’t have home grown players. And without it there is no future for Russian hockey.”
Between the staff of the national team and the KHL there is a dialog or troubled relations?
Bykov: “This is a question for the FHR.”
If the situation doesn’t change then [team Russia’s performance] in Sochi will be under threat?
Bykov: “Undoubtely. Young players that we might want to consider for the 2014 Olympics don’t have space to prove themselves in the KHL. The limit for foreign players needs to be not raised, but diminished, like they did with goalkeepers. They didn’t let foreigners to get signed, and then some talented Russian goalies immediately appeared. Because they got a chance to play and progress. As one of the National Team coaches I say: the number of foreign players must be limited. Or otherwise in the future we will have huge problems. Including Sochi.”
Two young stars were brought – Artem Anisimov and Dmitry Kulikov. Were they called for the future?
Bykov: “Both have a bright future. We know that we needed them to play here in order to get them acquainted with the national team as soon as possible. Sixty percent of today’s roster will play in Sochi. This is clear. But we need more young players. Besides, we are really satisfied by Anisimov and Kulikov’s play with the national team.”