Kurt Fraser: I love hockey and borscht
About two months remain until the World Cup. “Sport” begins to acquaint readers with the participating teams. Most of the players of the Belarusian national team play in the Super League, therefore they are known to the Russian fan, which cannot be said about her mentor. For the third year now, American specialists have been at the helm of this team. Glen Hanlon, who was unable to combine work in Vancouver and the Belarusian national team, was replaced by Kurt Fraser. The American, who worked with Atlanta, continued the work of his predecessor, instilling fast power hockey in his wards.
– Yes, the salary is lower, but it doesn’t bother me. Working here is an opportunity to gain international experience, study the European game, European hockey players.
– Weren’t you afraid to go to Belarus? There is an opinion among foreigners that it is very dangerous in the republics of the former Soviet Union.
– Tell us about your impressions of Minsk.
– I think Minsk is a fantastic place! There are such friendly, nice people here. The only problem for me is to learn Russian. But everything is fine: excellent accommodation, delicious food …
– What Belarusian cuisine do you like?
– I love borscht and all dishes in the Belarusian style. Actually, I’m not picky about food. And everything I tried here I liked. Very different from North American food, but delicious.
– What problems did you face while coaching the national team?
– First of all, I repeat once again, the language barrier, but Vladimir Tsyplakov, Oleg Mikulchik and Eduard Zankovets, my main assistant, helped to communicate with the players. Some hockey players have played in America and speak English, they also helped a lot.
– What are the fundamental differences in working with the national team and the NHL team?
– Probably the level of the players, but Glen Hanlon taught the Belarusian hockey players a lot, improved their game, brought the North American spirit, brought the level of the national team closer to the level of preparation in the NHL. There are also slight differences in the rules and sizes of the hockey rink, but neither is a problem for me.
– Does the Ice Hockey Federation of Belarus fulfill your requests and conditions?
– Certainly. Sergei Slavitsky, Svyatoslav Kiselev and everyone I work with in the federation support me and help me in everything.
– What do you think about the current situation when Russian players break existing contracts and move to the NHL, and the clubs do not receive compensation?
– I think that the NHL is trying to resolve issues of this kind, and Russia, I hope, too. If a contract is signed, the player must follow it to the end and only then go wherever he wants. I don’t like at all that a hockey player can leave his team in the middle of the season and move to another.
– How do you assess the chances of your players at the upcoming World Championship?
– I think everything will be all right. The team was good. We will be joined by Grabowski, Salei and Mezin. If everyone is healthy and in good shape, we will be able to show ourselves with dignity and justify the hopes placed on us.