Alexander Burmistrov is a 2010-eligible center who moved to North America from Russia to play with the Barrie Colts of the OHL this year. Unlikely many of his countrymen, who had hard time adjusting to the different lifestyle and the more physical play, Burmistrov has done a smooth transition so far, scoring eight goals and 21 points in 14 regular-season matches. On top of that he has been ranked as No. 17 in October’s ISS Top 30 for 2010.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Burmistrov recently in his native Russian.
HF: How are you doing in North America?
AB: All is good, I like everything here. I train a lot and I work on myself.
HF: When did you start playing hockey?
AB: I was put on skates at three. At eight I went to Ak Bars hockey school. My parents brought me there, and I am thankful for this.
HF: Did you always play as a forward?
AB: Yes, I always played as a center.
HF: You’ve had a great start in Barrie, while usually young Russian players tend to struggle a bit to start. What’s your secret?
AB: I wouldn’t say that it’s all excellent, I simply started playing my game and I see that I’m not playing up to my full potential. I’m improving game after game and I’ll try hard to raise my level in the future. I don’t have a secret, I simply dream about playing in the NHL and the last two seasons in Russia I tried playing in North American hockey style, it helped me adapt to the Canadian style.
HF: How do you like playing in the OHL? Which are the differences between Barrie and Kazan for a young hockey player?
AB: The OHL is a very good league, I like playing here a lot. But I don’t know about the differences, in Barrie they do everything for me, but local hockey is very good. This is the most important difference between Barrie and Kazan.
HF: In an earlier interview, you said that Ak Bars gave you the permission to play one year overseas and then you should come back. But considering that there is a high percentage chance that you will be drafted, what are you going to do? Do you hope that they’ll let you play again here?
AB: It’s still early to think about this, there is a whole season in front of us and anything can happen.
HF: How did your family react to your move to Canada?
AB: My family supported me, they want all the best for me.
HF: I guess your English is improving quickly.
AB: When I was just arrived in Canada I knew English very badly. Now it’s a lot better, I can make speeches in the locker room.
HF: In which area of the game have you most improved since you’ve been in the OHL?
AB: More than anything in my physical play and fights for the puck.
HF: And what food you had to give up?
AB: I used to eat in Russia everything I eat here in Canada. So I had to give up nothing.
HF: Do you feel more attention from the media here in Canada?
AB: Yes, I do. But I’m not yet ready to meet journalists, I’m still hindered by the language barrier.
HF: You were a valuable member of the last year’s Russian U18 national team that lost in the finals against the Americans. What did Team Russia lack in the final match?
AB: I still don’t understand how we could have lost that game. But I think that the referees had a big role in that.
HF: Do you expect to be picked for the WJC roster? Head Coach Vladimir Plyuschev knows you very well…
AB: My task is to show a good level of play in any match and then it’s up to the coach. Vladimir Plyuschev knows me very well, I spent three years working with him in the different junior national teams.
HF: In any case, what kind of chances Russia has for the gold medal? Last year they had a very good team. Do you think that this year’s squad can do any better?
AB: The national team is getting better and better every year. They show eye-catching, combinational hockey.
HF: What do you think about the Russian project of the MHL (junior level)? Is it a good step forward for Russian hockey?
AB: I think it’s a very good thing for the youngsters’ development. Now they’ll be shown more on the television and will have more attention.
HF: How do you spend your free time in Barrie? Still going to the movies?
AB: I try to rest, I sleep or I watch the television. I also talk with my friends through the internet. There is a day in the week where the whole team goes to the cinema or to the restaurant. We also play paintball.
HF: The Olympics are close, Russia or Canada for the gold?
AB: Russia of course!