On Monday, KHL new boys Slovan were busy training in Bratislava’s Slovnaft Arena, deep into the team’s intensive program to prepare for the forthcoming season. Head coach Rostislav Cada, the former Avangard Omsk boss who took over at the Slovak club during the summer, gave an interview to the KHL press service on the eve of Tuesday’s exhibition game against SKA - the club’s first game in front of its fans.

“Last season you left the Avangard job well before your contract was up. Did that experience not leave you with a negative impression of your time working in Russia?”
“I don’t have any negative feeling toward the Omsk club. The management made a decision and I accepted it. I still have a lot of friends there, but now for me Avangard is a rival club. Overall, I did not leave Russia under a cloud, and I have nothing but positive impressions from my relations with Russian people.”

“But all the same, did you know the reason for Avangard’s decision to replace you?
“From a hockey point of view I did not understand the decision, especially since we had four wins and a shootout loss in the six games we played before I was fired. The only bitterness I felt was from the fact that we weren’t allowed to strengthen the roster when we really needed to. And then, when the team lost several games under the new coach, the club decided to sign some players.”

“Do you think you deserve some of the credit for Avangard reaching the Gagarin Cup final? It was you that prepared the team for the season…”
“Let others be the judge of that – those who saw how I worked. I don’t go in for self-praise.”

“Apart from Slovan, did you receive any other offers for the coming season?”
“I had offers from three clubs in the Czech Extraliga, one from Switzerland and one from a club in the KHL.”

“Why did you choose Slovan?”
“In Bratislava there was the greatest interest shown in me becoming head coach of Slovan, so there is no way anyone could say it was a random choice.”

“Tell us about your new team.”
“All the players are good workers and good learners, with a serious attitude to training and preparation. I know that in previous years in Slovakia these players have worked really hard, and so I don’t expect any problems to arise.”

“In your time as coach of Avangard practically everyone noted how the team showed such iron discipline on the ice. Will it be the same with Slovan?”
“It is very pleasant for me to hear that – music to my ears. Discipline has to take first place in hockey. For example, look at Russia’s success at the World Championship – credit goes to coach Bilyaletdinov who instilled in all the players that discipline on the ice. I’m sure we’ll have an organized, disciplined team of players who can do the tasks we set them.”

“Do you have any idea how your offensive line will look?”
“Yes, I already have a clear idea of the players I’d use to decide the fate of this or that game. But we still have to work on improving the understanding between these players out on the ice, so I won’t tell you their names.”

“This season, fighting for the eight play-off places in the Western Conference there will be 14 teams instead of 11. With this in mind, how can a team like Slovan make it to the play-offs?”
“We understand only too well how hard it will be to qualify, but what’s the point of building a team in the first place if you don’t think you can get into the play-offs? I can say that Slovan, against all the odds, will be one of those teams doing battle in the play-offs. That’s what we’ll be fighting for.”

“Your first game with Slovan is against Milos Riha and his team. Is it important for you to win against your fellow countryman?”
“Milos and I know each other very well, right back to our playing days. Now our teams are in training and a win for the team is just as important to either of us.”

“Do you have any other friends among the coaches in Russia? Who do you think is the best coach in Russia today?”
“There are so many top-class coaches in Russia. The current Traktor coach, Valery Belousov, is an acquaintance of mine and I consider him to be a professional of the highest quality and a great guy.”

“How important will it be for you to beat Lev, bearing in mind the historical rivalry on the ice between Czechs and Slovaks?”
“Oh, those really will be the most important and most exciting matches for both teams, and everyone knows that the fans will follow these games very closely. And if we get the better of Lev in those matches, I’ll be extremely happy.”

Vladimir Samokhin in Bratislava, special for khl.ru


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