THE DEBUT PRINCIPLE. YEGOR FILIN: “I DIDN’T EXPECT CSKA TO DRAFT ME SO EARLY”

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02.06.2017 в 16:22

THE DEBUT PRINCIPLE. YEGOR FILIN: “I DIDN’T EXPECT CSKA TO DRAFT ME SO EARLY”

Yegor Filin’s debut Junior Hockey League season stands out among other rookies: Krasnaya Armiya Moscow forward has already won the league’s most coveted trophy – Kharlamov Cup. We spoke with this Penza junior hockey school alumnus about his road to CSKA system and his difficulties adjusting to life in Moscow. He also told us how many points should one score to get a great meal at baza and where the loudest fans live.

 

ON HOCKEY CHILDHOOD

“It all began  when I was four years old and my mom brought me to a hockey school,” says Filin. “They were still enrolling 1998 year borns so I joined a team a year older. We picked hockey because everyone in my family played the sport – my grandfather, uncle and older brother. As time went by I also fell in love with the game – everything is happening fast and it’s interesting. I enjoyed scoring goals. That’s probably why I stayed in hockey. There were times when things weren’t going my way, but I never even entertained the possibility of quitting hockey. My mother was always very supportive and was giving me advice, and so did my uncle, who is a coach. I listened to their advice and usually things went well for me.”

- What did your routine look like when you were a kid?

- I practiced in the evening when I was a kid. Almost everyday. On top of that I liked to fool around with my hockey stick at home. My uncle would explain tactics to me every now and then. That’s what my life looked like back then – I went to school in the morning, practiced in the evening and did it all over again next day.


- You played for Ak Bars Kazan in your junior hockey school days a few times. How did you end up there?

- I played for my junior hockey school team at Povolzhie Championship. The season always ends with Russian Championship title game. Ak Bars invited me to play for them there twice. They just sent an invitation to Penza saying I should come help them in the finals. I didn’t do all that well in my first year there – I scored just one point at the tournament. Perhaps, I lacked experience. Although, in the second year I went there as one of their top players and scored six points. Personally, I had a better year even though we finished third, while we had come in second the year before.

ON HIS JHL-B SEASON

 

Last season Filin was in the spotlight at Dizelist Penza in the JHL-B as he was one of the most productive players on the team. He scored 19 goals and 23 assists for 42 points in 48 games. He was also a plus-26.

“I had a rough start in the JHL-B,” reminisces Filin. “I started out on the fourth line and I had very little ice-time because I was very young – I was just 16 when I joined the team. But then about four games into the season I was put on the second line. I was gaining more trust. A little later I was put on the top line. In the end I finished second on my team in points. I think I had a decent regular season. I would give myself a B for it. But then we got eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. We had a great group of guys in the dressing room and excellent coaching staff but we couldn’t go any further.”

ON DRAFT

KHL Entry Draft was the next stage in Filin’s hockey career. The young player was selected by a top club from Moscow.

“After draft I got a call from my agent,” says Filin. “He congratulated me on being selected fourth overall by CSKA. My family and friends were happy for me. They congratulated me on being drafted by none other but CSKA – the great four letters, a club with a huge history. Everybody was very happy. I couldn’t believe they noticed me. It was exciting. I didn’t expect to be drafted so early but I did know that they wanted to select me”.

- Did you speak to CSKA scouts before the draft?

- Personally, I didn’t speak to any scouts before the draft. That’s what my agent did. I got the call after the draft. I spoke with the club’s administrator before the camp. He told me what I equipment and documents I had to bring. When I went to sign the contract, I spoke with scouts. They also congratulated me and we talked about some business matters.

ON GETTTING READY TO PRE-SEASON

“I was really welcomed at the team,” says Filin. “To be honest with you, I was a little nervous. After all it was a new team and I had to move to Moscow… But the boys turned out to be great. I went to the camp and just worked like I always do. Nothing was out of the ordinary.”

- Moscow is a city of temptations. Have you ever wanted to party instead of going to practice?

- No, that’s definitely not my story because I didn’t leave home to go partying in night clubs. I came here to work hard and prove myself. I came here to make the KHL team. That’s why I never even thought about giving up hockey for partying.

- What were the first difficulties you encountered in the Junior Hockey League?

- Off-ice training was pretty tough for me. We practiced with our conditioning coach Hasan Said. He had a lot of unusual exercises to offer. Sometimes I didn’t do them right because I had never done them in Penza.

- Such as?

- Coordination exercises were pretty rough. Sometimes we both laughed at me because I couldn’t follow very simple instructions. For example, stretching with squats. You put your right leg back and extend your right arm. After that you do a quick squat. Then you do the same thing with your other leg and arm. I was getting confused a lot doing this. It really bothered me. In the end I got into it little by little.

- Would you say that pre-season camp with Krasnaya Armiya has been the toughest one in your career so far?

- No. The hardest camp I ever had was last year with Dizelist. That was my first taste of professional hockey. The workload in JHL-B is very different from junior hockey school. It was unusual. When I went to Krasnaya Armiya camp I was ready for the workload. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was easy but I went through it with confidence.

Krasnaya Armiya approaches physical conditioning with some flare. Filin’s story is a great piece of evidence of that.

“Our conditioning coach came up with a game,” explains Filin. “When would come to the gym to practice, he would pick one guy out of every five and tell him to shoot a basketball. Whichever 5-man unit scores more out of three shots, gets to go first to dinner after practice. The lesser you score, the later you get to leave. You go last if you don’t score a single shot. We always fought for Ceasar salad and chicken. We would make fun of those who score one or no shots. We’d say things like – ‘hey, you’re buying your own dinner tonight’ or ‘so what restaurant are we going to tonight?”

- Hopefully, everybody had their dinner.

- Of course. It’s just that some of us had carbonara, while others had buckwheat.

ON HIS ROOKIE SEASON

“My debut year was absolutely fantastic, even though I went through a rough patch early in the season,” says Filin. “I was unfortunate with injuries and I wasn’t getting a lot of ice-time. But in the second half of the season I was getting more ice-time, gained some confidence and improved physically.”

Krasnaya Armiya went on to win the cup, while rookie Filin scored 10 goals and picked up 5 assists for 15 points in 57 games.

“I got stronger in the playoffs,” says the forward. “After all, those games are different and I had to prepare for them in a special manner. By that time I was already a part of the team’s core. I played a lot of minutes, even on special teams.”

- What’s your take on the final series.

- To be honest with you, I expected a tougher battle in the finals. I thought Reaktor would put up a greater fight. Game 1 wasn’t easy but then we found our game and things just went our way. We were beating them by large margins but we had to work hard for it. In Game 3 I scored two goals – it was unreal. When there’s 3,500 people at the game and fan-sector blows the roof off the building every time you score – that’s something you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. And, obviously, the emotions are flying high as you hoist the cup.

- You began the series in Nizhnekamsk and every game drew a crowd of 5,000. Did you feel the pressure because everyone in the building was cheering for the other team?

- I wouldn’t say it was difficult to play in Nizhnekamsk. Actually, it was fun to play there. When they announced rosters, nobody was booing anybody. The fans applauded to every name. It was a whole different story in Novokuznetsk where we played the semifinal series. When they announced our names, 7,500 fans were booing us. When we were up 4-0 the fans booed so loud – the rink was shaking. Perhaps, because of that we let ourselves go a little bit but we still won in the end.

- There is a tradition that every player gets to spend a day with the cup. Does Krasnaya Armiya follow the tradition?

- No. I mean, I would like to bring the cup home. But how would I bring it back to Moscow then? That would be problematic. So we don’t have such tradition. After all, we don’t play in the NHL.

- It’s been a month since the final series. Did you have enough time to rest?

- Physically I was resting till May 10th. After that I went back to light practice. I started going to the gym and jogging. Sometimes I play soccer in the evening. When I came back to Penza on April 28th, I had to study for my exams because I have SATs this year. I have to pass it to apply for university. So I had to work with private tutors and go to school. That’s why I can’t say I really rested.


Q&A with Yegor Filin.

 

- Who is your best fan and main critic?

- My biggest fan is, obviously, my mom. And she’s the critic as well. She always cheers for me and watches every game. We speak on the phone after every game and she always gives me advice. I don’t always agree with her but I always listen to her.

- What movie would you like to be in?

- I don’t want to be in any movie. I want to live my life just the way I want and not copy someone else’s – neither real or fictional people.

- Are there any sports that you find boring?

- I don’t think any sport is boring. None that I know of, anyway. It’s just that every sport is different. Personally, I like to play almost everything – soccer, volleyball and basketball. I also want to learn to snowboard but I don’t have the time. Although, it is on my to-do list.

 

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