Friday, November 4, 2011
Marc Antoine Godin Interviews Alexei Emelin
After season-after-season of failed attempts, Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier finally persuaded defenseman Alexei Emelin to give North American hockey a shot this year. Unfortunately, he has found himself in the role of 7th defender for the time being, and will thus be a healthy scratch for a 5th consecutive game tonight against the Ottawa Senators.
Whether or not you agree with Jacques Martin's decisions, if you're anything like me, you've been extremely curious to hear how Emelin feels about his time in Montreal thus far. Today, thanks to a great interview by Marc Antoine Godin of La Presse, we have Emelin's answers to some hot button questions. See the interview (in French), conducted through a translator, in its entirety here:
Translating some key points, Emelin states that he "has to prove that he has his place in this league." He has no real answer to the question of whether or not he's happy with how he's being used thus far, but points out that his coaches gave him plenty of confidence, trust, and ice time in Russia, though he knew he'd face stiffer competition for time with the Canadiens.
When asked the question everyone wants to know, whether a season of little ice time in Montreal would make him return to the KHL in the off-season, he responded that he's not sure; he's "here now, will continue working hard, and time will tell."
Emelin also adds that the transition to North America hasn't been an issue; that he is comfortable on North American sized rinks. He points to Andrei Kostitsyn as a big help in translating talks with the coaching staff and to Jaroslav Spacek for helping him with positional play on the ice. Finally, he mentions that while he isn't afraid to fight, he needs to be careful of his eye - seriously injured during a scrap in Russia - as further injury could leave serious permanent damage.
I, for one, sincerely hope that Emelin earns a full-time spot on the Montreal back end. He has shown on the international stage that he has huge potential, and he brings a skill set of size and physicality that the team certainly lacks. It would be a shame to lose such a talent before he had a real chance to show what he can bring.