YAROSLAV LYUZENKOV: “WE NEED TO PLAY ACTIVE HOCKEY – FIVE MEN UP, FIVE MEN DOWN”

YAROSLAV LYUZENKOV: “WE NEED TO PLAY ACTIVE HOCKEY – FIVE MEN UP, FIVE MEN DOWN”
Interview
09.07.2019 в 17:00
YAROSLAV LYUZENKOV: “WE NEED TO PLAY ACTIVE HOCKEY – FIVE MEN UP, FIVE MEN DOWN”
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JHC Dynamo Moscow head-coach Yaroslav Lyuzenkov gave his first interview to the club’s media relations department.

- This is your first big interview since joining Dynamo. How did you get the offer?
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After the end of last season I was contacted by Dynamo management who offered me to sit down for a discussion. We talked and set goals. I was happy to accept the offer. I didn’t even have t think about it much. After all, Dynamo is a grand club, there’s no doubt about it. It’s a new and serious challenge for me. I want to do it right. I’m happy to join the club and the system. Obviously, I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

- What personal and team goals did the blue-and-white management set for you?
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Our goals are vast. It’s probably going to take more than a season to accomplish them. We have to keep developing players, who graduate from Dynamo junior hockey school. We need to develop them mentally and physically for professional hockey and adulthood. There are a lot of promising players in the school. I want to thank coaches who worked with the players on their way to JHL. Our mission is to take it from here and continue working with the players.

- You’ve inherited a very young team even by JHL standards. What can you say about the players you have at your disposal?
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Yes, it is a young team. Right now it’s probably the youngest team in JHL. But we’re not afraid of obstacles. We haven’t had much time yet as we’ve only spent two weeks with the guys. We’re still gaining each other’s trust. Everyone is hard worker on the team. There is one positive – all players are skilled and pumped. They want to prove themselves.

- Have you met any acquaintances on Dynamo?
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I mean, I worked mostly in the East, so I know almost no one here. I did follow a few players who were born in 2001-2002 and appeared on Team Russia. I analyzed a few of them, I knew what some of them looked like. So it was more or less easy to get to know them better.

- You worked in Novosibirsk for eight years with local junior and major junior teams. Was there anybody you wanted to bring over?
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It wasn’t an easy task… All of those players had already signed contracts, so even if I wanted, it would be impossible to bring anyone over here. I suppose I would have liked to see a couple of guys on my team. But then again we’re all familiar with the level of Dynamo junior hockey school alumni. There are a lot of promising players here. Their biggest quest is to adjust from kid to major junior hockey the right way, with full understanding of the process. A lot of players struggle to adjust. Our goal is to help with the transition and support them.

- You’re 41. Do you consider yourself a young or experienced coach?
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To be honest with you, I haven’t ever thought of it. I just enjoy working with players of this age. It’s something I can relate to. I understand their youth enthusiasm and their desire to make everyone’s head turn. I like their passion – sometimes they’re stubborn, sometimes they’re arrogant. As for considering myself a young or experienced coach, I can’t really answer that.

- 15 years ago you were in Tver as a player. What do you remember about the town?
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Actually, I have sort of a déjà vu. Back then the team was being built from scratch as well. So it’s sort of coming back to me, all those memories… I’ve been here before. The only thing that’s changed is the time and surroundings. There are a few new buildings and shops. But other than that it feels very similar.

- What style are you going to have your team play?
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First of all, we had a meeting with professional teams of our system and we’re going to continue doing that. We’re going to follow their orders. As for our improvisation, we’re going to let our players be aggressive in the offensive end, so there wouldn’t be a clear division between forwards and defensemen. We’re going to play active hockey – five men up, five men down. The most important thing is to build a team, because if someone is going to hug the puck, nobody is going to benefit from it – neither the player, nor the team.

- Is it fair to say that players have the two most difficult months of training ahead of them?
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Yes. We just began on-ice practices. We reviewing skating skills, work off-ice and little by little raising the bar. We’re going to work on the fundamentals to last us through season, so there is going to be a lot of running drills, core strengthening as well as stickhandling and skating. There’s going to be a lot of work. It’s going to be a mix of core strengthening and skill drills.

- Tver is a new town for Dynamo players. It can affect their mood. Is there going to any sort of emotional rest for the players?
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I believe, they will get their emotional rest on weekends when they will go back home and refill their emotions. We’re definitely going to have to do that. We just have to think of the best schedule for that. Because it’s difficult to be confined at baza and just practice. These are young guys. We’re going to come up with ideas on when they can take their leave, when they can rest and recharge to work effectively.

- Are there going to be any surprises in your approach to practices?
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It’s difficult to shock the hockey world these days. We just have to explain to the players what they should do to be effective. I think, most of them are familiar with our demands. We have a few tactics of our own and we’re going to incorporate them in the training process. For example, there are few gym drills that the boys haven’t done. We also have a few on-ice scenarios that can occur in games. Hopefully, we can bring mutual pleasant surprises to each other.

- Last time Dynamo made the playoffs was in 2015, but the fans expect a lot from players who were born in 2001 and 2002. What goals have you set for them?
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Any coach and any team in any sport goes into competition with the highest goals. You have to play to win in every game. That’s the kind of mentality we’re going to preach to our players. Our main priority is to develop and prepare players. But as for ourselves, we expect to make the playoffs at the very least, despite the fact we have a young team.

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