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Alexander Barabanov: "Thank you for everything!"

Alexander BarabanovContracts
HC SKA press-service

- You won a lot of awards with both SKA and the national team during your time with the Saint Petersburg club.

- Of course, I feel that I have realised my potential with the organisation. Even if we take into account the MHL, we reached the final of the competition for the first time in SKA's history, it was a really important moment for us. We subsequently won the KHL Gagarin Cup with the senior team, a trophy which the club had long been waiting for. With the national team, we became Olympic champions for the first time in a number of years. Everything worked out, both in terms of the team and my personal achievements.

- Do you remember your senior SKA debut and your first goal?

- I certainly remember my debut. After the World Junior Championship, I was quickly called up to the senior SKA team. Jukka Jalonen, our then head coach, gave me a chance in a home match against Ak Bars. Participating at the World Junior Championship gave me the opportunity to play with the main SKA side. Thank you to the fans who offered great support. My first goal came in the fifth game, Ilya Kablukov found me at the far post with a pass and I scored.

- You won two Gagarin Cups with SKA. Which one was the most memorable?

- That's difficult to say. I didn't play a lot in the 2014/2015 campaign, only appearing for one minute in the playoffs. Nevertheless, the fans, players, management and the city had all long been waiting for that victory. In terms of the development of ice hockey in Saint Petersburg, it was probably more meaningful than the second triumph. However, for me personally, the second cup was more important. I played a lot more during the 2016/2017 season, with the coaches putting me on the ice for key moments. It was a huge experience for me.

Alexander Barabanov: "Thank you for everything!"

- This season, you were out for a long time with an injury. How far could SKA have gone in the KHL playoffs?

- Yes, it was a difficult season for me, injuries played a part. However, these things happen, it's sport. The main thing is to get out of these situations. Towards the end of the season, I feel that both the team and I gained momentum. We felt that we could fight for the Gagarin Cup. We had four lines, each of which could decide the outcome of a game. Everyone in the team can be a leader. It's really disappointing that the campaign was stopped, we had good chances to become champions.

- What are your plans for the short term?

- I will look after my physical shape. I'm trying to eat correctly, my wife and I are training. Furthermore, I am learning English a few times during the week so that life is a bit easier for me in Canada.

- Since you became a SKA player, a lot has changed inside the organisation, with younger players receiving more opportunites and the club constructing its own infrastructure. How will this help SKA in the future?

- I think that this is the way forward. More players from the MHL and VHL are receiving chances with the senior SKA team, and this is a great thing. The system is working, players can develop within the club's system. The main thing for us players is work hard and train. We have a gym, two rinks, a shot training zone, a medical centre, a hotel and areas in which to improve our technical skills. I don't think that many KHL clubs have the same facilities. Players in the SKA system should appreciate this and work hard.

- Do you have any words for the fans and your teammates?

- First of all, I would like to thank the management for giving me the chance to develop in my hometown and play for my club. I will never forget this. In addition, I extend my gratitude to my teammates, it wouldn't have been possible to win the trophies and achieve my individual success without them. Also, I say thank you to the staff members, they are all professionals. Of course, I also want to thank the most committed SKA fans who probably even knew me in the MHL. When I competed in my first MHL game, I didn't expect the support to be so great! We play for the fans. I have a lot of respect for the ultras, I know a lot of the guys and their support is key. I wish everyone health and patience in this tough time. Thank you for everything!

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