HF’s Interview with Denis Grot

By Eugene Belashchenko




DATE: 06/03/02


Denis Grot is a
great offensive defenseman and one of Russia’s best in this year’s entry draft
behind Denis Grebeshkov.  Denis has a great hockey sense and vision,
establishing himself as a power play quarterback. His rights are owned by
Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, but due to the teams crowded blue line, he spent most of
the season on loan with Elemash Elektrostal.  On the Russian National 84 team,
Denis was a top four defenseman, manning the quarterback spot on the second
power play unit.  Besides his hockey ability, Denis is friendly, a true team
player with a soft demeanor and a team first attitude. RussianProspects and HF
writer Eugene Belashchenko caught up with Denis, while he was visiting Toronto
for the pre-draft physical examinations and NHL team interviews.


EB: First of
all, can you tell me where you were born, how you started to play hockey?

D. Grot: I
was born in Minsk.  My father took me to play hockey.  I was 7 then. 


EB: You were
born in Minsk? How did you end up with Elemash?

D. Grot:
Well, I first ended up in Yaroslavl, which gave me to Elemash for a six month


EB: What kind of
a player do you consider yourself?

D. Grot: I
really like fast paced offensive hockey.


EB: In what
characteristics of your game do you feel you need to work on the most?

D. Grot: I
need to work on every aspect of the game, to do everything faster. 


EB: As I
understand it, there are more then 10 guys with Elemash who are members of the
Russian 84 National squad.  Does this help you guys when you play for the
National Team?

D. Grot: Of
course it helps.  We definitely gain more experience.  We play those same games
together, but at a higher level of hockey.  In the end we play much better


EB: At the U18
World Junior Championships you guys finished silver. Do you have any feelings,
recollections you would like to share regarding the tournament?

D. Grot: My
recollections are very positive, but I was very disappointed after the last


EB: What
happened? Could you tell a little bit about that game against USA?

D. Grot:
Well, it seemed that we started the game off very badly.  We were weak and I
think they scored two goals against us right away.  Only then did we, more or
less, started to play, and started to move. Then we scored a goal and in the
end of the game we made a disappointing error, and they scored another goal.


EB: What role
did you have on Russia’s 84 squad? Did you earn minutes on the power plays,
short handed?

D. Grot: I
played all the time on the power play and shorthanded.


EB: Denis
Grebeshkov told me that you guys went and saw Toronto Maple Leafs game against
Carolina. What did you think? How did you like it?

D. Grot:
Everything was great.  They made an amazing show, everything was beautiful. All
the people were shouting.  It was awesome. 


EB: Do you
follow NHL?

D. Grot:
Yeah, I follow it, but only sometimes.  There was really nowhere to watch it
we only had six channels.  (laughing)


EB: At the
beginning of this past season, while you played for Elemash, did you set any
goals before yourself ? Do you feel you achieved your set goals?

D. Grot: I
aimed to improve my play, to gain experience. Our goal was to improve the
quality of play as much as possible.  We aimed to lose as little as possible,
and tried to win every game.  That did not work out that well, – we couldn’t win
often. It was a different level of hockey – more difficult.  But we tried, there
were matches when we played great.


EB: This year
you were invited to the annual NHL draft which this year is held in Toronto. The
Central Scouting Bureau ranks you 11th amongst European skaters
which gives you a very solid chance to get drafted very high in the draft. What
are your feelings regarding this? Do you feel the pressure of the upcoming

D. Grot: No,
not really.


EB: Is this your
first visit to Toronto?

D. Grot:
Yeah, it’s my first visit. I like it.


EB: Did you guys
do anything outside hockey?

D. Grot:
Well, we just kind of walk around. Went to a couple of stores, electronics,
hockey equipment.  We are planning on stopping by the Hall [of Fame EB].


EB: What are you
guys doing during your, how can I put it, pre-draft preparations?

D. Grot: We
are taking various tests. There are strength tests, flexibility tests,
endurance tests.

EB: What are
your impressions regarding the tests.  Are they a lot, or did you do similar
lifting while with Elemash?

D. Grot:
Here, everything is a lot more difficult then in Elemash.  In Elemash, well,
there were days when we lifted with the coach, and we could go to the weight
room on our own time, separately from the team. I lift on my own. 


EB: So, you go
weight lifting outside the teams schedule.

D. Grot:
Yeah, if I have time, I try to do it.

EB: Ok, but with
the team you don’t really go lifting .

D. Grot:
Well, not, not really, we do lift, just not very often 


EB: What are
your plans for next year?

D. Grot:
Next year I would like to earn a spot on Yaroslav’s main roster.


Thank you very
much for your time Denis  Good luck at the draft.

– Eugene Belashchenko