The forward signed a contract with Dynamo Moscow in the offseason.
The 2022/2023 season is Nikita Buruyanov’s debut year in the Kontinental Hockey League. The forward played for Dynamo St. Petersburg for three years and scored 111 points (59+52) in 133 games. In the summer of 2022, Nikita signed a two-way contract with HC Dynamo Moscow. He has played four games in the Kontinental Hockey League and scored two goals since the start of the season. He also managed to help the junior Dynamo team to beat Krasnaya Armiya having scored a goal in Moscow derby.
In an interview with the JHL website, the forward talked about his attitude to the game and awards, a practice with Alexander Ovechkin, plans to become a leader of Dynamo and the reasons why he likes to speak to the media.
– How did you start playing hockey?
– I started skating in Stary Oskol when I was six. There was no professional school there, the team was created with the help of the city government. When I was nine, my parents, my uncle and I used to go to Moscow every overnight Friday into Saturday morning for me to play at tournaments with Rus team. In Stary Oskol I had a great coach - Alexander Vasilechkin, but it was more of an amateur level organization, so I had to take a step forward. We moved to the capital, I was able to practice having best conditions and stay with the team.
– Why did you choose this sport?
– It was not by accident, but it wasn’t planned either. My best friend played hockey with his godfather. They offered my dad and my uncle to sign me up for hockey, and at the same time my mom was arranging things with a kickboxing school. The famous fighter Fedor Emelianenko is from Stary Oskol and this sport is more popular there. So, my mom wanted to sign me up for kickboxing, but my dad and my uncle outstarted her and signed me up for hockey.
– When did you realize that you wanted to become a professional hockey player?
– I vividly remember that moment. When I was 12 years old, I realized that I needed to work for my future. We moved to St. Petersburg, I played for Buldogi. A slump hit me, nothing worked out for me, I understood that I was expected to perform much better. That situation was a wake-up call that made me change my attitude to hockey. Before that, I used to take it as a sport only.
– Did you consider quitting?
– I never said that I didn’t want to go to a practice. At one point I had many injuries. I thought that if I pick up another one, I wouldn’t play anymore. But those were emotions. When I recovered, everything was fine. I never really wanted to quit hockey.
– Why did you move from Rus to Buldogi?
– We went to a tournament in St. Petersburg and Buldogi played there. I performed well, the sponsor of the team, Dmitry Soley, offered me to join them, promised to help with relocation and conditions for my family. My parents decided that it would be better for everyone. Moscow was a new city for us, very different from Stary Oskol, and in St. Petersburg it was easier.
– Which city do you like more?
– I was still little when we lived in Moscow, I hardly understood anything, so, I’d say St. Petersburg. It is the city I spent my teenage years in. Now St. Petersburg is my home, and Stary Oskol is my small motherland.
– The 2022/2023 season is your fourth year in the JHL. What experience have you gained during that time?
– The JHL gave me games in which I felt competition and began to grow as a player. The coaches and I did the rest. I’ve been lucky with my mentors. First, I worked with Yegor Vyacheslavovich Bashkatov, then with Sergei Mikhailovich Pushkov. They were very helpful, developed my game intelligence, every year I was getting physically and mentally stronger. My conditioning improved due to practices, I matured, my mentality changed. I have been moving forward step by step discovering growing opportunities.
– You have played in the National Junior Hockey League, the Supreme and the Kontinental Hockey Leagues. What differences did you notice among them?
– I’ve heard some players say that hockey is the same everywhere, but I did feel the difference. Moving up the tiers from the NJHL to the KHL, you see the level of hockey growing. You’re getting older and you need a next step, a new challenge in a different league. I played a few games in the NJHL. I needed time to get adjusted to playing in the SHL and the KHL. At the training camp, I was amazed with how skilled the players were. You need to keep your head moving and stay alert during the whole game.
– This offseason you signed a contract with Dynamo Moscow. What were your emotions?
– I didn’t get a chance to really enjoy it. My first thought was: “What should I do next?”. It was nice that everyone congratulated me. But I knew that it was a big responsibility, and I had to work even harder.
– Alexander Ovechkin took the ice with your team. Were you able to talk to him?
– He was much in demand that day, but we did a small talk. I wished him good luck and got his autographs for my family and friends. Ovechkin is a great person. It seems to me that many people do not realize how iconic he is in hockey and in sports. Playing with him is an unreal level.
– What were your impressions from playing your first KHL game?
– I played several preseason games, but I felt jittery before the first official game for Dynamo. I tried to think that it was an ordinary game to calm myself down. It looked like everything was fine, but I was shaking a little.
– What is the atmosphere of KHL games like?
– A lot of people come to watch games, everything is bigger. You don’t just play on the ice, you are shown on federal channels. It also makes the atmosphere more pleasant. I really enjoy playing in front of a large number of people: when there are a lot of fans, you feel emotional support.
– And what about when they cheer for the opponent?
– Sometimes you pay attention to it simply because they are being very loud. When your team allows a goal and people are celebrating – it brings pressure to bear. You need to think about your actions and try to play to the best of your abilities.
– Does scoring the first KHL goal differ from scoring other goals in terms of emotions?
– At certain point you dream of the JHL and the SHL, but everyone wants to make it to the main league of the country. That’s why the emotions from scoring were more vivid. It was a shock, I was skating to the bench and thinking: “What has just happened?”. I kept the puck as a souvenir, now it is at my family’s place together with other trophies.
– Which of them is the most important for you?
– As Hudson Hornet said in Cars, trophies are “just empty cups”. I surely want to win them, but the trophies themselves are not that important. Emotions and memories of the moment of winning are of top importance.
– You said that when you became a leader of the JHL team, you got a different understanding of hockey. In what way?
– A leader is fully responsible for the result. Hockey is a team sport, but being on the ice you realize that a lot depends on you. You understand that you have to score goals, lead the team and contribute to its success, be a game-changer. This is what being a leader is about. Over the past two years, I have not reached this status. When I was with the SHL team, I had to get adjusted and I was not the player I wanted to become for the team. Now in the KHL, others are in the leading positions. But I go for it and I believe that everything will work out after a while.
– How do you prepare for games?
– There are no special rituals: I try to sleep more, not to get distracted by the phone when we are on our way to the game. I can just text my girlfriend or parents - their support revives my spirits. Being in the locker room I try not to joke a lot, as it makes me too relaxed. I can have a word with some staff members or teammates, so as not to get hung up on the game and keep my head cool. I splash out my emotions during the game.
– You do interviews pretty often. Why?
– I like to express my opinion and I am pretty good at it (smiles). I enjoy speaking to the media. Doing interviews is important for the development of hockey. We play for the fans and the media, who raise the level of the game in our country and interest in it.
– And is it important for players?
– Interviews promote your image and personality in media. It helps while you build your career and even after you finish it. Today media landscape is an integral part of sports. Those who do not know how to do interviews or think that it is not important are mistaken.
– What do you think about social media management?
– I am not too active on social media, it’s my decision. But I am an athlete and a media person in certain circles, so it would be useful and necessary for me. My girlfriend monitors my social media presence, tries to develop me in this area, makes me post some nice pictures.
– Do you reply to messages from fans?
– Yes, it’s an important thing to do. People wish good luck sincerely, follow my life. Such fans always need to get a reply, they cannot be ignored. But I also get messages from scammers who try to hit me up for money. They send identical messages asking for help. I am not a greedy person and I like to help people, but when deception is clearly evident, I don’t even want to reply.
– What type of person are you?
– I try to behave myself in everyday life, but a hockey rink is a jungle where there are no rules. As the main character of Gentlemen movie said: “When the lion’s hungry, he eats.” We are to battle hard on the ice, you can’t be a gentleman there. I am a kind and calm person in real life. Some people try to solve problems using their fists, and I use my head. People think it’s a weakness, but it’s a big invisible power, it makes you capable of way more than fists do.
– Who serves as an example for you?
– I am an example to myself. Not because I’m perfect, it will never be so. I just model myself so that others could seek their inspiration from me. My family helps me a lot here, they always support and do not let me shudder to a halt. So, they are also my example to follow.
– How do you spend your free time?
– Sometimes I just want to stay home all day. Otherwise, I go somewhere with my girlfriend or my family. I think that having dinner in a restaurant or a cafe is a great way of having rest and a change of scenery. Social outing, as they say (laughs). Spending time with my family is my hobby.