Barys' management had a scheduled meeting with mass media representatives at the Barys Arena press center. Boris Ivanishchev, the club president, and Head Trainer Andrei Skabelka, the main team's head coach, answered the questions.
Boris Ivanishchev about the worst season in history
- Yes, it is indeed a bad season. But hockey is a sport. There are both victories and defeats. It is impossible to predict the exact result. It is worth noting that results depend on many factors, including the roster, opposing teams, schedule of matches, injuries and so on. Lineup has been upgraded by more than 70% this season. Including changed all but one mercenary. Vey is the only one left since the last season. Many Kazakhstan players and even mercenaries had their debut full season at this level. It certainly takes time to adapt to a new league. It should be noted that Barys had an agreement in the summer with a number of mercenaries, which subsequently declined to play in KHL because of the geopolitical situation. Attracting foreign players is a global practice in various sports. The best foreign players are attracted, among other things, so that local players improve their skills and gain additional experience. I want to note that every year the number of natives of Kazakhstan playing in the main Barys lineup is growing. Although some fans think differently. Fifteen natives of Kazakhstan have played for Barys this season. We don't even take naturalized athletes. Plus, a young puckstopper Amirbekov spent the whole season in the team.
Andrei Skabelka on season results
- I had only two defensemen left from last season when I joined the team. It's Shalapov and Daniyar. Those are the ones who played. There was also Beketayev, played practically not a single game in KHL. The same goes for the goalie line. And the mercenary brigade rearranged completely. So, if you consider the whole season, I would probably say that, personally, a lot of players have been able to make such a step forward. Have had their best seasons, have progressed quite well. Take Adil Beketayev, for instance. He was our best defenceman at the end of the season in every way: scoring and passing, points scored and blocked shots. Suddenly he became a systemic player. A lot of guys made such a serious step precisely in their personal way, but as a team we didn't manage it. In the championship, there were some stretches where we acted as a team, but they were short. We didn't have the kind of leadership that would lead the way. About the goalkeeping squad, we had an idea to go with two of our puckstoppers Boyarkin and Shutov. And it wasn't that bad in preseason games and tournaments. But when the championship began, it became obvious that we need to look for reinforcements in these positions. Well, except for Hudacek, there was not a single puckstopper. Even though we were not the first in line. Teams like Omsk and Traktor were above us. Probably lacked that experience for many of the guys, given the calendar, which was not quite easy. We had 17 matches a month. Lack of strength in the lineup and experience probably played against us. With around six games to go, we were in this race for the top eight. But, unfortunately, we couldn't catch on in the end. But once again, I want to mention such sufficient progress of many players.
Andrei Skabelka on transfer work
- If we consider the formation of the squad in previous years, players with Kazakh passports played all in Barys. The transfer "hunt" at the end of the AHL and NHL season began. There were preliminary moments, we looked at players in previous years, but the final answer was given only after the NHL transfer window opened. Those who signed contracts stayed, those who were not satisfied with the conditions offered or who were not given contracts in the NHL - they agreed to the offers we gave them. Now for the second season, the situation is fundamentally changing. First, guys with Kazakh passports are happy to explore other clubs, given the reduction of the limit on foreigners. Teams with some serious budgets, they offer average money for their level, for us it is quite a lot of money. Plus, the political situation, not many people want to travel. Mostly only Canadians or Americans come to us now. Europeans, with the exception of a few, simply ignore it. The only ones who wanted to, came from the German championship. In terms of points in their championship, they are leaders, but the levels are quite different. Given the flight and game schedule, not everyone was geared and ready for this. Now the approach to selection and team building is changing.
Boris Ivanishchev on the termination of contracts during the season
- There was a discussion about signing contracts with Mineyev, Semin and Bigras. I would like to say that we terminated the contract with Mineyev and Semin without any compensation. Bigras was paid one month's compensation. Christopher is a pretty strong player, an AHL champion, but he hasn't been able to really gain a place in the league. There's more to say about Michael Chaput. He showed himself as a player of quite a high level, but because of the injury he could not reveal himself to the full extent. On February 1, he went on unpaid vacation. Transfer work is done all year round, all season long, so the club tries to look for opportunities to reinforce the squad in a season. Other hockey players were invited to take the places of the gone athletes. Then there was the question of wages for foreigners and the overall budget of the club. Of course, salaries of mercenaries are different than some local players. The amount depends on the qualifications of the employee, each hockey player has a market price, but also on the quantity and quality of work performed, responsibility, former merits and so on. Here's the team's top sharpshooter, Linden Vey, who is a Gagarin Cup winner and Olympic medalist, gets as much as the best hockey player among Kazakhstan's players, Nikita Mikhailis. I also want to mention that the salary budget of Barys is much lower than many clubs in KHL, and this year's total funding due to exchange rate differences has decreased. At the same time, due to the geopolitical situation and changes in currency exchange rates, the cost of maintaining teams from the Barys system has increased significantly. Flights, transfers, the cost of accommodation, equipment, and so on have all increased in price. Due to budget cuts, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make an agreement with highly skilled players. Сlub risks not fulfilling the required minimum wage. Starting next season, the minimal salary is going to be raised, and it will be raised in the following season as well. We are below the other clubs in budget.
Andrei Skabelka on the extension of players' contracts
- Of course, I won't reveal names. If we talk about the players' progress, we have to reinforce that progress and strengthen it. There are players who are progressing who we want to keep. Obviously, there are some that we will do away with. We want to get stronger, that's what we're going to do.
Andrei Skabelka on players at other leagues for the national team of Kazakhstan
- We invited the best scorer of the championship of Kazakhstan - Alexander Borisevich. He's having a hard time, considering his progress. We talked to Pēteris Skudra, who was his Head Trainer at that time. He gave good feedback on him, but it takes a different kind of preparation to get into e KHL, that's a serious point. About the players from Kazakhstan championship, yes, we are all monitoring, we're now going to watch the playoffs closely. World Cup is the championship of the best players in the world, play in the best leagues in their countries. Sure, we also want to have the best players, currently, from KHL. Maybe we would have got from NHL or leagues in Switzerland and Sweden if we played there. At the moment, all the best players are playing in KHL.
Boris Ivanishchev on next season's budget
- Next year's budget is under consideration. We submitted it, but it hasn't been confirmed yet. We filed with the request that we would have enough for both the relocations and getting into the "minimal" salaries. Of course, we want to keep all the Kazakh players, first and foremost. After April 30 we will have the final say on who will and will not stay as a mercenary. We will fight for Mikhailis and for the other guys, we will work on that first of all. We will preliminarily discuss, but the final result will be after April 30.
Andrei Skabelka on Julius Hudacek
- Now I'll answer with this simple phrase - we need reinforcements in all lines, including the puckstopper.
Andrei Skabelka on fan complaints
- I don't know what to tell them. Today there was a huge group of fans thanking them for the season. Everyone has an opinion, and I respect it. Obviously, the team did not accomplish the objective. All of us failed.
Boris Ivanishchev on Kevin Dallman's offer
- Yes, we were talking. It was a preliminary discussion. We must have a meeting at the world championships in Riga. There were no specifics. He wanted to help the team, national team. That will still be discussed.
Boris Ivanishchev on the return of the Snow Bars to JHL
- For the next season, we submitted a budget to have our youth team return to JHL, where it was playing before the pandemic. Children's and youth sports school will also enter the Russian championships, previously the borders were closed. Preliminary agreement is in effect, we have submitted documents to JHL. I personally met with the head of JHL, so they're taking us back.
Andrei Skabelka on Batyrlan Muratov
- Our team can't host everyone We only have 20 places there, with two young players born in 2003 and 2002. Batyrlan has a lot of good qualities, and they must be developed. It all depends on him; you need more diligence and effort. He has to cope with competition.
Boris Ivanishchev on the game schedule
- We submitted our bids for the calendar, but unfortunately, we ended up with such a schedule. We came from the Far East, played four games in five days, and then played every other day here. Seventeen games in a month, that's a very intense schedule. We had to work hard, but it's a very hard schedule, it effects on recovery, and so many injuries. Almost 20 people were injured during the season, a few who were healthy. And fractures, and gusts, now even many on injury, had surgeries.
Andrei Skabelka on the future work plan
- Some will be going for Nomad, who has bilateral contracts. Overall, guys got two weeks’ vacation, and in two weeks we're back on the job. Keeping in shape and getting ready.
Andrei Skabelka on Yegor Petukhov's outstanding productivity
- He took advantage of the situation prevailing this season, considering such a serious reduction in mercenary roster positions in the attack. He used this, got a lot of time, while he scored all the times in equal parts. That's such a big advantage, he wasn't on our power play, and yet he scored as much as our best forwards, who played almost the entire season on the power play. He did a great job, in fact, and took his chance.
Andrei Skabelka on his retirement
-Any trainer is ready for that, be hired, to get be fired at some moment. Needless to say, I didn't think about it. We wanted to make amends, we were still in this race for the top eight in six rounds, but we didn't have enough at the end.
Andrei Skabelka on the fans
- Astana is such a young enough city for hockey. If you look at Ust-Kamenogorsk or Karaganda, there are big hockey traditions there. When we talk about Astana, fans have told me today, when we passed the first stage, the team contaminated children and the fans just with hockey. Of course, we need a successful result from the team. - I would like to thank our fans. There was serious support, they were coming when the end was up and it was clear that we were not going to make the playoffs. I want to thank the fans for their support this season!
Boris Ivanishchev on fans
- I would like to say that there have been some positives this season. We are successfully returning fans after the quarantine, we can tell that in ticket sales and advertising, this season has been the most successful ever. Despite the fact that the team this season was not very successful. First of all, I would like to mention the rebranding that we did. For the most part, we received only good feedback from our fans. This was understandable by the increased number of purchases, paraphernalia in our company stores. Thanks the fans for supporting us all season long. Indeed, they were very supportive even yesterday, they stood and did not leave, it was very nice.
Andrei Skabelka on "short" player contracts
- This is a current issue, and the wrong contracts. We have already discussed this with Boris Anatolyevich, we will not give such contracts. Kazakhstan players, all their contracts should be for at least two years, or even better for three. So that they have confidence that we are counting on them in long period.
Boris Ivanishchev on objectives for next season and the potential of Skabelka's trainig staff
-We'll meet with our board of trustees again. The objective, at first, will be to get into the playoffs. We will strive to go as far as possible. I think yes, there is potential. Andrei Vladimirovich gives our young players a chance to participate, this year you've seen it all. They I think next year will be added, now they were newcomers, next year they will gain experience. This season we will continue to look at our local youth so that we can start full training camp in July right away.
General Partner of Barys HC – Samruk Kazyna SWF JSC
Partner of HC Barys - CF Fund for the Support of the Tourism and Sports Industry
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