“A lot of people still think I was born in Canada.” Interview with the Russian hero of “Siberia”

One of the most mysterious newcomers to Sibir in the off-season was defender Fedor Gordeev. Despite his Russian name, many English-language sources list Toronto as his birthplace. However, in reality, Fedor was born in the city of the main rivals of Novosibirsk residents – Omsk. And it must happen that on the eve of the publication of the interview, Gordeev not only scored his first points in the KHL in the match against Avangard, but also “nailed” his hometown team with a winning goal in the last minutes.

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At home, very little is known about him: Gordeev moved to Canada at a young age and spent his entire career in North America before moving to Sibir. In an interview with “Championship”, which took place at the end of August after the match between SKA and “Sibir” within the framework of the pre-season tournament in St. Petersburg, Fedor, who has heroic dimensions (197/102), spoke about the transitioning from figure skating to hockey and from offense to defense, he recalled moving to Canada early and also named the three best defensemen in the NHL today.

“I have already seen how they dismiss a coach”

—The match against SKA was very intense. — SKA is a very strong team, we knew it, we were prepared for it. It was a good fight, a lot of eliminations from both sides. I would like to play more.

—Were you surprised by such intensity in the preseason game? — There are many mistakes in the preseason, all teams want to show themselves. This intensity was not surprising, you always have to be prepared for this.

—Is Roman Rotenberg’s reaction to the confrontations fair? — In a game like this there are always a lot of emotions, there is a fight. Sometimes you may not like something, it will appear that the judge gave the removal incorrectly.

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—Have you ever seen a coach get fired? – Yes, I saw it. When I played in the Ontario League this happened several times.

“The first years in Canada were very difficult.”

—How is acclimatization going in Russia? – Everything’s fine. I’m glad to be back home; I haven’t traveled to Russia in a long time. I’m learning everything again, I started speaking more Russian. I like it.

—How long has it been since you have been in Russia? “I left when I was seven years old, the last time I came back was when I was nine years old. So I haven’t been here in 15 years.

—Are you used to everyone speaking Russian again? — Yes, I’m starting to readjust, but I still think in English. It will be easier for me during the season.

— Many sources in English indicate that you were born in Toronto, even in the draft you were presented as a native of Canada. But this is not so. — I moved to Canada so early that many people still think I was born there. But I always said that I was born in Omsk.

—Why did you move to Canada? – Honestly, I don’t even know. I was little, my parents decided that way. He wasn’t even particularly interested.

—Is it difficult for a seven-year-old child on the other side of the world? – Of course, it was difficult. I didn’t know any English, the first years in Canada were very difficult for me. The language barrier was the biggest problem. Once I felt comfortable there, everything was better.

“I used to practice figure skating, but they told me: “You have nothing to do here, go play hockey.”

—How easy is it to start playing hockey in Canada? In Russia this is not a cheap pleasure. — It’s also expensive in Canada. I started training in Russia, so the transition wasn’t difficult. In Canada, at the junior level, everything works differently. Each city has its own team, different leagues. Even in Toronto there is a league that has produced many NHL players. It is called GTHL (Greater Toronto Hockey League – Greater Toronto Hockey League. Hockey players such as Connor McDavid, Brandan Shanahan, Paul Coffey, Eric Lindros, Jason Spezza and others played in it. – Note from the “Championship”).

—What did your parents do if they allowed themselves such a move? “My mother worked as a teacher and my father earned everything he could to allow me to play hockey. I am very grateful to you for everything.

—You used to do figure skating. How did you get into hockey? – It’s a funny story. He has been practicing figure skating for just under a year. One day my teacher simply told me: “You have nothing to do here, go play hockey.” That’s exactly what I did. Figure skating classes helped me a lot with ice skating, especially since I was already one of the older kids.

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— Is there something from the Russian school in your way of playing? – No. I moved very early and immediately adapted to the Canadian style. As a child you don’t think about it, you just play. His own style begins to appear at the junior and youth levels, where the game is played differently.

—You started your career as a striker. — Before youth hockey I played both defense and offense, I was constantly moving back and forth. You could say that in the NHL they chose me as a forward. Given my height, the coaches decided it would be better for me to play defense. There were several games in which I still played on offense, but in the first year at the junior level there was a complete transfer to defense. It was in the Hamilton Bulldogs club (since February 2023, the team is called Brantford Bulldogs – Championship note).

—Which hockey players did you admire when you were a child? — All my life I was a fan of Ovechkin, he was my favorite player. I didn’t single out anyone else.

— In one of your interviews you mentioned that you also sympathize with Victor Hedman. — I really like the way he plays. It’s also big and rolls well. I try to play like him.

— Is he one of the three best defenders in the NHL? – Now there are Makar, Yozi, Sergachev. I can also mention Karlsson. His 100 points were a big surprise.

Mikhail Sergachev

Photo: Julia Nikhinson/AP Photo/TASS

“Nothing kept me in the United States”

—How did the option with “Sibir” come about? “In the last two years I have found myself in different situations. Even if you play well for your team in the ECHL, you still may not have a chance to make it to the AHL or NHL. David Nemirovsky also lives in Toronto, we met there and rode together. That’s how we started talking. He had Russian citizenship, which helped me a lot. David asked me if I would like to come play in Russia. You can say that nothing kept me in the United States. If you play well, but can’t get higher, you should try somewhere else.

—What is your role in Siberia? In Maine you were one of the leaders. — I don’t want to talk about my role on the team. I will do everything they ask of me. I can help the team as a minority, get more involved in defense.

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—Were there options with other teams? – Yes, there were other options. But he didn’t want to re-sign a two-way AHL/ECHL contract. Last season I had that contract. Then they promised me there would be a possibility. But even though I played well and was a defensive leader on my team, I was never allowed to play in the AHL. He no longer wanted to sign a two-way contract and then return to the ECHL.

— In “Sibir” you will play again with Pavel Gogolev. — Yes, we always kept in touch. I’m glad to have a close friend here; I didn’t know many people from Siberia.

— What do you know about the KHL? Have you been following the league? —I almost didn’t follow him. Only after signing the contract did I start to learn something about the league.

—What did you manage to discover about Siberia? “Every year this team gets better and better. Last season was good. They have a confrontation with Avangard. This is very interesting for me: I have many relatives and close friends in Omsk. I can’t wait for the first game of the season.

Fyodor Gordeev

Photo: hcsibir.ru

—Will you anger your family if you defeat Avangard? — They said that they would support me that day (smiles).

“If a Canadian club wins the Stanley Cup, the city will burn.”

— Is being recruited in Toronto a special event for a person who has lived there all his life? – It was crazy. Toronto is a hockey city. It was a special feeling, the whole family was with me that day.

— You almost ended up in the draft for the second time. “I knew my rights would be traded.

—How did they explain this in Toronto? —They said I would have better chances elsewhere.

— What are the specific characteristics of the East Coast League? — NHL teams began to pay more attention to this league and use local clubs as farms. Previously, it was considered a much lower level, but now more and more players appear and then play in the NHL.

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– Your shoulder is bandaged. Did you overdo it with force? — You could say that I went a little overboard, I played with my body. I don’t train specifically for strength, but I sometimes do shoulder exercises in the gym.

— What gives you more pleasure: goals or successful power plays? – Of course, from the heads.

—What is the secret of a successful force? — There is no secret, you just have to “get” the person correctly.

– Isn’t Auston Matthews’ new contract too big for Toronto? – This is a super player. He deserved this contract.

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—How do you face the absence of the Stanley Cup in Canada? – If the Canadian club wins, the city will burn – 100% (laughs).

—What is Canada missing in Russia? – Family friends. Novosibirsk has a big time difference with Canada, 11 hours, and there is almost no possibility of communication. Otherwise everything is fine.

—What does Russia have that Canada doesn’t have? — I really like the food here.

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September 22, 2023 9:52 pm