Cherepanov: My contract will not keep me from playing in the NHL
Here's a post-draft interview with Alexei Cherepanov that was sent in from Columbus by Slava Malamud, the U.S. correspondent for Sport Express, and posted on the Sport Express web site earlier today (a somewhat-convenient English version can be found here):
Cherepanov starts off by saying, "I was happy that the Rangers drafted me. They were the team that gave me the most attention, and I had a very productive interview with them (at the pre-draft testing). I even said to my agent that if I couldn't be picked first or second, then hopefully I'll be the 17th."
The New York reporters will be on your heels, analyzing your every move.
I've already been through that today. Obviously, the interest of the press is very high, and there's been a lot of discussion-- which is a good thing.
The Rangers are projecting you for the first or second line, after Jagr and Straka retire. Do their expectations make you nervous?
No, I will do the best I can.
I saw Jagr play when he was in Omsk, and I am happy for the chance to play on the same team with him. It's only recently that I started to root for the Rangers, though; before that, Colorado was the team that I liked the most.
You've made up your mind to join the NHL in 2008?
When I'm ready, I'll be there.
Many say that you are ready now.
In a year, I'll be even better. I'll be even better if I come in as one of the leading players in the Russian Super League.
How are you with English?
That hasn't a problem so far. I will look for a tutor in Omsk.
Is there a possibility that in the end you will say, 'What is the NHL to me? I'm doing fine in Omsk, perhaps it's better for me to play at home?'
No, it's more desirable for me to play here. It is important that I prove myself in the best league, against the best players.
What if you could make more money in the Super League?
I'm not thinking about the money. The important thing is to play against the best.
What if you go over there and they send you to the farm club?
If that's beneficial to me, then I will go there. Why stand in place? I want to play wherever the level is higher, that to me is better.
What happens in another year when, still under contract, you tell the management of Avangard that you're leaving?
I hope that they understand, and let me go.
And if they say, 'Alexei, give us another year, or at least we must get compensation"?
I'm sure that's what they'll say, but I'm also pretty sure I'll be able to convince them. Once I'm ready for the NHL, no contract is going to stop me. In no way do I want to be held back by the team. I hope that by then everything will fall into place.
How will you know when you'll be ready for the NHL?
If I make the Russian first team, that will be a good indication.
Cherepanov (#7) playing for Avangard against Dynamo
Today's Sport Express also quotes Ilya Moliver, who works with Jay Grossman as one of Cherepanov's Russian agents, as saying about the way that Cherepanov tumbled in the draft: "Los Angeles angered me most of all-- (GM Dean) Lombardi, who we've worked with before. They had all sorts of praise for Alexei, and they take someone else? This to me is incomprehensible. The same with Boston. We had several interviews with them. They said Alexei was an ideal hockey player, and how they'd love to have him on their team. Then, oh well, sorry! But it all worked out in the end."