Yesterday, the Colorado Avalanche announced that they had placed Andrei Mironov on waivers with the purpose of terminating his contract. Shortly after, the young Russian defenseman spoke to SovSport in an interview that tells us two things:
1. Andrei Mironov is not fond of how the Avalanche handled his season.
2. Andrei Mironov thinks he’s a much better hockey player than we got to see during his time in North America.
How are you doing? How is your career?
Mironov: Good question. I can write a “War and Peace” book about it. I’ve made a very important decision.
So, they didn’t give you a chance?
Mironov: They called me up. I had some practices with a team, stayed alone after them. I was even practicing at the gym during games. I was always in a good shape. But they don’t see me in the first team, or maybe coach doesn’t like me.
Mironov: Because of my style of play or my performance. Hard to say. They promoted me to the NHL 2-3 times, but they didn’t give me a chance to play, just sent me to the AHL with words: “Everything’s fine. You’re the first team player. But you need a practice in the farm team”
You were very close to the first team.
Mironov: Yes, I still wasn’t allowed to play even when three defensemen got injured. I’m not sure that I would play even if all six defensemen were injured.
You just stayed calm and patient?
Mironov: No, I talked with my agent Dan Milstein. He had been calling management of the Avalanche, trying to push them to get me back to the first team. I’ve talked with the head coach Jared Bednar and even with Joe Sakic. I had some meetings with both of them. They told me, that I’m the first who would have been called up from the AHL and that I will play at the first opportunity. But that were just words.
What is your decision?
Mironov: I’m going back to Russia.
So, you didn’t have enough patience?
Mironov: Not really, I stayed patient for the whole season. I honestly waited and worked hard. I’m honest with everyone and with myself, first of all.
Why don’t you just wait till the end of the season at the AHL?
Mironov: I don’t wanna play there. It’s not level of hockey, which I need.
You have 9 points (1+8) in 26 games. You were pretty good.
Mironov: I think that AHL is on a lower level than KHL by tactics and understanding of the game. Yes, maybe the game is faster here. But there are mostly experienced players in the KHL, then there are just young guys in the AHL, trying to be promoted. But this isn’t what I need. Critics may claim the opposite, but I’ve seen it on my skin.
What are you going to do now?
Mironov: I will terminate my contract in the NHL. So, I can return at any time, and the Avalanche will retain rights on me till I’m 28, then I’m becoming the UFA. As soon as there won’t be issues with Avalanche I will start negotiations with teams from KHL.
Deadline is over in the KHL, you can’t play in Russia till 1st of May.
Mironov: I understand it. But season isn’t over for me. I’m going to practice and keep myself in a good shape.
This is interesting, you can still go to the World Championship, just like Evgeny Nabokov in 2011. He didn’t play for Islanders, but the head coach of team Russia still nominated him.
Mironov It’s not me who decides. But if I got a chance, I will do everything to help my team. No matter Olympic or first team, I will accept every invitation. I perfectly understand that I didn’t play much this season. Did I deserve to play on the World Championship? It’s up to coaches.
There are some rumors that your agent forgot about you.
Mironov: That’s not true. Milstein was literally on the phone with me every day. We talked every day since I came here. He had been always in touch with me and it helped me a lot. It would be stupid to blame agent.
So, what’s the deal?
Mironov: There is a thing called “Russian factor”, it’s the way how Russian players are treated in North America. I’ve felt it on my own skin.
What do you mean?
Mironov: My hockey, my performance and maybe even me as a person – someone just doesn’t like it. Or maybe general manager isn’t happy with me. And that’s normal. For some people you’re perfect, but for others you aren’t. They tried to convince me to that I’ll be playing and that they see me in the roster. When season starts they keep saying it to you. You are best in the tests. But you still got benched. I tried to understand it: I need to adapt in the league, need to learn English. Then I started to play. We discussed every game with defensemen coach. They kept saying to me, that I’m growing as a player. Once coach said: “You are very good. You’re going to play even more”.
What’s happened then?
Mironov: They sent me to the AHL on the other day.
Mironov: Then they called me up again. I played against Islanders. We won 6-1.
Mironov: I was sent to the AHL again for a month. When Colorado won ten straight games, I was told, that they can’t change that roster.
That makes sense.
Mironov: But I didn’t play even when we had just two wins in eight games. I had a question: “How could you see myself in the first team? What should happen?”
Emigration is a hard thing. Not everyone can handle it. Did you have any difficulties in everyday life?
Mironov: It was hard. I lived in the hotel for the whole season. There was large bathroom and kitchen, where I prepared food for myself. I was feeling bored in America, nothing to do there. I was learning how to cook after practices. I had been calling my mom, asking her for recipes to make myself homemade food. I’ve learned how to cook soups, mashed potatoes and meat. Maybe I didn’t only try to cook borsch or pelmeni. I even tried to prepare rack of lamb. My clothes have become a mess, because I used dry-cleaning machine at the hotel. It was pointless to rent apartments because, because you need to pay rent for six months and lived between NHL and AHL. I would just packed things in bags, left my rented car with my staff in Denver and come to San Antonio. They can have told me, that I’m going to stay there for 3-4 games, but I had to stay for a whole month with few of my things. You know, they say a lot of good things about NHL in Russia, but not everything is perfect. I can tell about a lot of things, which is better in the KHL.
Name one thing.
Mironov: I can speak about it for hours. Don’t get me wrong. I’m Russian. I’m more comfortable in Russia. I’ve grown up playing in Dynamo, and I liked the organization more. This is my opinion. For example, we’ve had 4 masseuses for 30 players in Russia, and it’s just one in Colorado. 70-year-old man.
What is the biggest advantage of the NHL?
Mironov: I can’t say. The NHL is considered as the best league in the world. Well, okay. Players in the NHL are better than the KHL, they are more skilled, faster. But I wouldn’t say that there are really big differences, as they say in Russian media. There are some pros and cons in both leagues, in hockey and everyday life.
We talked in Novogorsk, just before you signed a contract with Avalanche. Do you think it was a mistake?
Mironov: You can see at this situation in the different ways. It was a big experience for me. I’ve seen what NHL is. What is happening in the AHL, how people are earning their money, how they play here. I’m going back to Russia as a different person.
Now Russian Olympic team’s players are getting cars and money, seeing in public with golden medals. You could be one of them.
Mironov: Every decision is right. No one knows how things turns out. Who said that I would definitely play at the Olympics? I went to the NHL, and it was right choice. It could be even worse if I stayed in Russia. And also, it could be a million times better. You will never know, if it was right or wrong.
You have grown up by playing in Dynamo. But the organization’s having a problem now. Could you imagine, that you’ll play for another team.
Mironov: Dynamo will be the first team, where I will start negotiations. And we will sit with my agent and think about it.
Your story looks similar to the situation between Vadim Shypachyov and Golden Knights. Shypachyov was very criticized for returning back. Don’t you think that you will be criticized too? Everyone would say: “he just wasn’t patient enough”.
Mironov: Do you think I didn’t have enough patient? You tell me. What would change if I stayed for another month in the AHL? I’m pretty sure that I have nothing to do here. They wouldn’t let me play in the NHL. Even if they lost every defenseman, they would rather call up players with one leg, but not me.
I don’t wanna judge Vadim. He had a strange and arguable situation. I don’t know details, but I understand him. He didn’t come to play in the AHL. He refused, and I can’t judge him.
One more, I’m going to Russia. Many players dream about NHL. But I decided that I’m coming home, in my league. This is all that I need right know. I want to play. Hockey isn’t just my job, it’s my life.