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April 15, 2001


Alexander Tyzhnykh is a famous product of the Soviet system. He has been brought up in Chelyabinsk hockey school and already at the age of 18 in 1976 he became European Champion with under-18 Team USSR. It hasn't been an easy matter for him to compete with another legendary Soviet goaltender Vladimir Myshkin for the spot on the roster. Nevertheless his magnificent play earned him the place not only on the national team but in the line-up of invincible CSKA Moscow where Vladislav Tretyak was a starter. Sasha, that's how people in North America call him, recently spoke with Denis Neznanov of HockeyZonePlus about his vision of contemporary Russian hockey and about the upcoming the World Junior Championships for under-18 teams in Finland.

How often do you attend games of the Russian Championships?

I visit Russia approximately 5-6 times per season. I attend different hockey tournaments and matches. This time I've come here to see the finals of the Russian Hockey Championships among the players of 1984-1985 year of birth. I've also chanced to follow the development events in the Russia's finals for the players of 1986 year of birth. Later I plan to go to St. Petersburg to see second Russia's national team. Then I should be in Finland for under-18 WJC.

Is there anything interesting that you notice in modern Russian hockey?

You know there are lots of changes. More and more rich clubs have emerged in contemporary Russia. Many clubs are seriously interested in the development of children hockey. I think presidents of numerous clubs realize that children hockey is the hockey of future. One of the brightest examples is Khimik Voskresensk of the Higher League. The coaches do here a tremendous amount of work in the development of children hockey. If hockey people work this way all over the country then there will be much more world class players who will play in the Superleague and in the NHL.

What relates you to the near Moscow club Khimik Voskresensk?

Three players whom I represent are on this team. One of them is Pavel Sedov who has been drafted by Tampa Bay Lightning last year.  I come this town and watch his play. I usually meet Pavel and have a talk with him about his plans for the next season. I solve his problems if he has any. Also I try to help the bosses of Khimik club with my hockey knowledge. From time to time I help the players from other teams to find their place in Khimik Voskresensk. I see that people who work in this town have developed very good towards attitude hockey. I like it very much. I want to work with them and help this club. Some of the players I represent have chances to reach NHL pretty soon.

Could you please tell a little bit more how you became hockey agent?

It has happened quite unexpectedly. By some lucky chance. I left for Canada in 1989 and has been playing with Edmonton Oilers for two years. Then I spent some time with Edmonton's affiliate.  Later I decided to organize my own hockey centers. I have five schools in different cities of Canada. Vladislav Tretyak has been helping me with my work for two years. Also there was a couple of other great names like Vladimir Konstantinov, Sergey Fedorov, Peter Mahovlich who have been involved in the process of work. In general many outstanding people helped me to open hockey schools all over North America. We have been working with children at the improvement of their skating and many other important aspects of play for a week or two.
It has been much later when one of the mothers offered me with my tremendous knowledge in this sphere to try myself as a hockey agent of her son.  She believed in my great potentialities and trusted in my numerous contacts all over the world. This is how I began my agent's career.

I work all the year round without day-offs and good rest. I travel a lot all over the North America, Europe and Russia. We are a well-to-do company and try to keep pace with modern hockey life. I love my job. Quite recently  we started to represent Russian players in the North America and Russia. One of them is Alexander Khavanov who is with St. Louis Blues now. It has been a great riddle for many hockey experts how it came that he has been drafted at the age of 28. Our company tried to do themselves best in the advancement of this player at the 2000 NHL Draft.

The other client of our company Dmitry Upper is now in Kazan with AkBars. We hope that next year he will play with NY. Islanders. In general we work with young players. They are 15- 18 years of age kids. We also represent some Canadian and European players. For example two years ago I brought to Russia six Canadians. My work consists of two simple things: to find work for players and to do good contract for them.

What is your opinion of the coming 2001 NHL Draft? Do you think there will be drafted any older Russian players?  

Yes, you are right that there is a tendency to draft older players. It's easy to explain. Now there are 30 teams in the NHL. They had to search for experienced 25-27 years of age players. The experts pay attention to Alexander Zhdan, Roman Kukhtinov, Vitaly Proshkin and Andrey Razin. The final decision will be made after senior World Championships in Germany. The scouts will keep an eye on many older players from Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic and Russia. They have chances to be drafted after rounds 5-6.

Do you agree that Soviet/Russian goaltender's school is rapidly loosing its traditions?

I'm quite agree with you. I tried to stop this process. I've been in my native club Tractor Chelyabinsk for 2-3 days. I found 2 hours for a daily work with the goaltenders of the team. I guess it's necessary to do everywhere. The bosses of Russian clubs should hire wise people who have been playing goaltenders. They must pay them for their work. It's high time to do it now. Unfortunately many teams are not interested in offering the jobs of this kind for the people who work only with goaltenders.

Let's talk about Russia's Junior Team. Could you explain anyway  its recent failure at the recent WJC in Moscow?

We lost the system which relates the head coaches of the Russian clubs and its national teams. There must be an only man who is responsible for the selection of players who will form national team. Peter Vorobyev is a highly respected hockey expert but he hasn't had any chance to see in action many players of his team before the start of WJC. Russia needs a man who will regularly meet the players and have a talk with each of those who pretend to make the national team. I think that the choice of players that's the thing to blame for the recent failure in Moscow. I simply don't understand why Krylia's Frolov and CSKA's Mozyakin haven't been called-up. Vorobyev should do it for sure! The last WJC has demonstrated that there are lots of equal teams among the juniors. Swedes, Finns, Czechs, Canadians or Russians may win any time. I hope the officials of the Russian Hockey Federations will draw some conclusions. Next year everything will be ok for the Russian team. 

Your predictions of the just stated in Finland WJC for under-18 teams? Has Russian Team any chances to win it? 

Without any doubts Team Russia is favorite number one. "Five Nations Tournaments" where the Russians dominated all year round is the brightest example of its strength. I've been watching this team for two years and like it very much. I sympathize with its head coach Vladimir Pluschev who is a great enthusiast of his business.  He is a wise thoughtful man who knows well how to work with this age of players. He has a well-balanced team formed of outstanding goaltenders, defensemen and forwards. The team has excellent group of leaders such as Kovalchuk and Trubachev. Russia has everything to win the title of the World Champions. I will also pay attention to Team USA and Finland. They are contenders for the gold of WJC. In the final many things will depend upon the referees decisions. It's difficult to predict something but I hope Russia will become World Champions.

Denis Neznanov
HockeyZonePlus' Russian Correspondent


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