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Ilya Kablukov: "The fans are a huge part of our team"

Ilya Kablukov
HC SKA press-service

- Why does the CSKA Moscow academy produce so many good players?

- The facilities were always good, and the coaches are excellent. Thank you to Leonid Gerasimov who worked with us. Sergei Gimaev helped us too. Andrei Parfyonov took us in the second team, before Vyacheslav Bykov and Igor Zakharkin gave us a chance in the senior side. Later on, we met in SKA again.

- When you were with CSKA Moscow, was Sergei Gimaev the academy's director?

- Yes, but he skated on the ice too. He had a good relationship with all of the coaches and us. I knew him from childhood.

- Where you surprised when he became the country's best ice hockey commentator?

- He knew information about everyone. He gave great advice. Sergei Gimaev was always strict, he said what he thought to the person's face.

- You were part of the Atlant Mytishchi team which made the 2011 KHL Gagarin Cup final. What was it like playing there?

- We won because of our emotions! We managed to get through the first round, the second...everything went our way. However, luck helped us in that series against SKA, when Jakub Stepanek made that mistake and we scored on the powerplay. It was a huge surprise! Milos Riha gave us all so much energy. Everyone fought for each other, including Sergei Mozyakin and other leaders. After the club had changes introduced, it all went wrong.

Ilya Kablukov: "The fans are a huge part of our team"

- Is Milos Riha the most emotional coach in your career?

- The most important thing is that we was a nice coach. I worked with him in Spartak Moscow and Atlant, so I know what I'm talking about. Andrei Nazarov is also very emotional, but I didn't work with him for so long.

- Can you recall any incidents with Milos Riha?

- All of the funny things would need censors. It's best not to talk about them.

- You signed for SKA in 2014 right before the transfer deadline arrived.

- It was the last day for KHL transfers. We had played against Vityaz away from home, and we then had a day off. I travelled back home to Moscow from Podolsk, but my things were in Mytishchi. At 11:40 pm, Alexei Kudashov phoned me to say that I had been traded. I gathered my things and left.

- Did you manage to sleep after receiving that phone call?

- In the morning, I had to be at SKA's training session. My flight from Moscow was at 7 am. I had to make the plane, but I went there at the same time as Dinar Khafizullin. I wasn't on my own.

- Was it easy for you to adapt to living in Saint Petersburg?

- It was tough at first. I arrived in the middle of January, it was really dark in the mornings. However, having lived here for four years now, I've got used to things. I have a lot of favourite places to go. I go with my children a lot to the centre.

- How did you feel when winning your first Gagarin Cup with SKA?

- I wasn't trusted as much when playing with Atlant and making the KHL final. I was young, didn't compete in every match and did not have much ice time. Here, I felt a large part of the team. I knew my task on the ice, and that if I didn't stick to my game plan, the team could lose. I had more responsibility, but also more emotions after winning. I did everything I could.

- After greeting the fans in the airport after winning two Gagarin Cups, you are a cult SKA player.

- I know that people want to me to shout "We're the champions!" again, it was amazing. We were cheering a lot both in the dressing room and on the plane too. When walking out to the fans, I couldn't hold my emotions in. People come up to me now and ask for me to shout those words again after this current season.

- Would you be prepared to go to the ultras fan section at the season ending game?

- Why not, the fans are a huge part of us and are always there. I treat them with respect.

- After playing against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Patrik Hersley spoke about the cap which the best player is awarded following every match. How many times have you worn it?

- One time this year. The current holder of the cap decides who will win it this time. Sometimes, it's given for a crucial block, not just goals.

- In the 2017 KHL Gagarin Cup final, did you give it to Oleg Znarok?

- Yes! He created this team, he steered us to victory. We were grateful and decided to give it to him He was the hero of the decisive win in the Gagarin Cup final.

- What would you like to say to SKA's fans?

- I don't want to say banal things. I'll say one thing: please, do not leave before the match ends, even if we're losing! We fight until the final buzzer and are grateful to those who stay with us in the good and bad moments. Yes, we feel bad after lossess, but we always thank the fans who stayed with us. I respect those people even more.

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