HF’s Interview with Anton Babchuk

By Eugene Belashchenko




DATE: 06/11/02


EB:  First of all, could you
talk about where you were born and how you ended up in hockey?

A. Babchuk:  I was born in
Kiev.  I started to play in

At three I started to learn hockey.  When I was thirteen, we traveled to a
peewee tournament in Quebec.  After the tournament we were invited to play in
Elektrostal, where I have played the last four years. 


EB:  Who brought you into
hockey and to which school?

A. Babchuk: My father
brought me to Kiev Sokol’s school.


EB: Were you playing as a
defenseman from the beginning?

A. Babchuk: Yes.  That is
where I was placed and that is where I played. 


EB: Who had the biggest
influence on you becoming a hockey player?

A. Babchuk: I think my
parents and the coaches. – More my parents of course.


EB: Who was your first

A. Babchuk: Krovov, Yuri


EB: Did he have a strong
influence on you?

A. Babchuk: Yeah, he taught
me the first steps in hockey.


EB: How would you describe
your game to readers who know little about you?

A. Babchuk:  I think I am a
good player (laughing).  I make a solid go ahead pass.  I play a physical game
in my own zone.  I have a good shot.


EB: Do you have a hero?
Someone in hockey you strive to be like and have followed?

A. Babchuk: No, I never
strived to emulate anyone’s style or be like anyone out there. I  want to be my
own player.  I want to stand out as Anton Babchuk.  However, I very much respect
the game of  Robert Blake, Al McInnis. 

Thanks very much for your
time and good luck at the draft.


EB: At the beginning of the
season, did you set any goals for your self? Do you think you achieved those

A. Babchuk: With the
National Team, we did not play badly at the [U18 – EB] World Championships. We
earned second place.  We wanted to, of course, take the first place, but it did
not work out.  Also, this whole season most of the ’84 National Team played in
Elektrostal – we were putting together a roster.  We were able to establish a
roster, but still did not reach our primary goal to earn first place.  So far,
it has not been bad. 


EB: What kind of role did
you hold in Elektrostal? Did you get a lot of playing time on the power play?

A. Babchuk: Yeah, I played
in practically all the games, except those in which I was injured. I constantly
played on the power play and shorthanded. So, I earned a lot of ice time. 


EB: Did you play on a
pairing with someone, or did the pairings change constantly?

A. Babchuk: For the most
part, I played with Kostyuk – with whom I play in Elektrostal.  We had a
constant line – with Shevjev and Shkot playing offense. 


EB: Are you friends with
anyone on the team in Elektrostal.

A. Babchuk: Yeah.


EB: Who are you friends, and
what do you guys do in Elektrostal?

A. Babchuk: There is nothing
to do in Elektrostal except to just hang out and do nothing.  There is
absolutely nothing to do.


EB: Regarding the World
Junior Championships, could you share your insights regarding all the games and
then regarding the final game against the

What happened there, why did you guys barely did not have enough?

A. Babchuk: The
Championships were memorable.  The level of hockey was high at the
Championships. Regarding the last game, we, of course wanted to win it.  The one
goal deficit, the possibility of losing by one goal may have had a psychological
impact.  We attacked less and moved in closer on our own net and in the end let
in two goals.


EB: What role did you have
on the team?

A. Babchuk: I had the same
role as with the club [Elemash Elektrostal – EB].  I got a lot of minutes.


EB: You are currently in

A. Babchuk: Yes


EB: Is this your first visit
North America?

A. Babchuk: No, it’s not my
first visit – I am Canada for the third time.


EB: Third time? Why were you

A. Babchuk: The first I
visited Canada for a peewee tournament.  The second time was a year and a half
ago for the All Hockey Challenge tournament and now is the third time.


EB: What are you doing there
– EB] besides hockey?

A. Babchuk: Besides hockey,
I go to the gym and work out.  I don’t really play much hockey here.  Go to the
downtown sometimes.  


EB: Is this your first visit
or have you already been there?

A. Babchuk: No, it’s my
first visit to



EB:  And how do you like it?

A. Babchuk: It’s great,
great. It’s a big city – beautiful.


EB: In your opinion, which
characteristics of the game do you have more to work on?

A. Babchuk: Well, I need to
work on all the characteristics.  I am working on everything. —To be bigger,
stronger. Here, I saw NHL hockey, saw junior hockey.  I really liked it – all
the guys are big.  To play in the NHL, you need to be bigger. 


EB: Do you follow hockey

A. Babchuk: No, I am simply
always interested in hockey over here. I am interested in all North American
hockey – NHL, junior leagues. 


EB:  How do you think the
style differs between NHL and Russia

A. Babchuk: I think that
players are stronger and more physically gifted [in North America – EB]. Higher
speeds – the game is of course more intense.


EB: In
what tests are you currently undergoing?

A. Babchuk: None really –
there simply were some NHL tests and that’s it.  Besides that, for the most
part, I go to the gym, check out the city, and that’s it. 


EB: And the tests they
conducted, did they differ significantly from what you did during the practices
with Elektrostal.

A. Babchuk: Yes, of course –
granted there may be some physical [work out – EB] exercises are there, but the
European players are not really taught to this exercise. For many it was a
difficult task, unlike for the Americans and Canadians.


EB: This year you have been
invited to the NHL Entry Draft which will held in

The Central Scouting Bureau considers you seventh amongst European players –
which gives you a great chance to get drafted very early in the draft. What are
your feelings about this? Do you feel any kind of pressure?

A. Babchuk: No, there really
isn’t any pressure. Simply, I am awaiting the draft, and that’s it.  There,
whatever happens, happens. There is not way I can influence the outcome – I
already played out the season and have taken all the tests. So now…


EB: As I understand it, you
took part in NHL interviews. What kind of a process was it?

A. Babchuk: You walk into a
hotel room. There, at a table sit, for some teams a couple of scouts, for some
10 scouts, and for Florida even, Mike Keenan was there. Whoever wants you, sends
for you, and you walk in and there are about 20 minutes of questions and that’s
it. Then you leave and that’s the whole process.


EB: What are your plans for
next year?

A. Babchuk: I don’t know, we
will see. Right now I have a contract with Ak Bars.




– Eugene