Canadian defenseman Chris Lee has marked his return to Russia by talking with KHL.ru about his reuinion with former team Metallurg Magnitogorsk, his  Olympic motivation, and his views on the tenth KHL season.

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“I did a good job at the Karjala Cup”

- Chris, you have finally been reunited with the Magnitka team after playing for your country at the Karjala Cup. What kind of emotions have you been feeling?

- I am glad to see the guys again. We grew very close over the past four years. I’ve been following the team's progress pretty closely, so I’m happy to get back.

- Were you sad that team Canada did not face Team Russia at the Karjala Cup?

- No, it’s okay. I would not want to try to stop Mozyakin,  but all the same, I hope it will happen one day. I also didn’t get to play against the Czechs, who have Jan Kovar.

- So, you have strong motivation to be in the national team for the Channel One Cup?

- Yes, I hope they will name me in the team, and that I’ll get to play against Russia.

- How difficult is it to play after a long break from hockey?

- It was tough to jump straight into playing for the national team, as I hadn’t played for month-and-a-half. It’s always tough at this level, as the games are played at a pretty fast pace.

- Are you satisfied with your performance?

- Considering I was playing against guys who have half a season behind them, I think I did a pretty good job. And I know that I can get even better, which is a positive factor.

- You have now played several times for Team Canada this year. What is it like?

- It’s very good experience. It is always a special feeling when you play for your country.

- So you have your sights set on a place in the Olympic roster?

- It'll be exciting to see what happens. I just need to do my job well, and hope that they’ll give me a spot in the team.

- You must be one of the most experienced guys in the roster.

- Obviously, but that means nothing. You must be one of the best at the moment of selection.

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“I want to keep on playing”

- Was Magnitka your sole option after your try-out in the NHL?

- I wouldn’t say that, no, but having decided on a return to Russia, then Magnitogorsk was at the top of my list. I wasn’t looking at any other team. After the great way the club treated me and all the success we achieved, I would be crazy to not want to come back to Magnitka.

- The team lost three defensemen over the summer, but you and Alexei Bereglazov have returned.

- I'll be glad to see Alexei again. Maybe we could form a pair once more. I was surprised that he came back, so maybe he will also be surprised to see me.

- Will you play against Spartak on Tuesday?

- That should be my first game, and I’m ready for it.

- What happened with you in North America?

- I was given a shot at camp with Los Angeles. I had attracted interest from other teams, but I decided to try the Kings. I had a good camp, but for some reason it just didn’t work out. I was happy with the way I played, and I was still attrracting some interest from other clubs, but there were no concrete offers of a one-way contract, and I decided not to risk my eligibility for the Olympics. So here I am.

- Will you try the NHL again next year?

- You never know.

- So you have no thoughts of retirement? You just want to keep playing?

- Yes, I want to keep on playing. I’m performing well at this level, and while I am still playing to a high standard I want to continue.

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“I thought SKA might go the whole season without losing”

- Did you speak with Magnitka during the summer?

- I did, a little bit. They knew my goal was to play in NHL, so they wished me well.

- Did you follow the team's results?

- Pretty closely, yes,. I pay attention to every league, but this one is special to me and I wanted to know how they were doing.

- But they have not been doing very well.

- It's tough for them, because everybody wants to beat Magnitka. We have a good team here, so we should be able to work things out and start to play well again.

- Ilya Vorobyov has left the team.

- It’s sad to see Ilya go, as he’s one of the best upcoming coaches in Russia. I hope he won't be out of the game for long and that he soon finds another job. He guided us to a lot of success in recent years. He's a great guy, and an even better coach.

- But the rest of the coaching staff are still there.

- Viktor Kozlov has also done a good job, and he’s a smart guy. It will be interesting to see what he is like as head coach. Mike Pelino is still here, and it’ll  be great to see him every day. He is the kind who is  always laughing and smiling, and puts everybody in a good mood.

- What has surprised you during the current KHL season.

- I honestly thought that SKA might not lose a single game this year, and then Jokerit went on a long run in which they, too, looked unbeatable. Some crazy winning streaks. Barys is growing in conference, and it’s unbelievable thatDawzey (Nigel Dawes) has a goal a game. Yes, a lot of surprises.

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Richard Delacy, Roman Solovyov,
exclusive for khl.ru

Related clubs

Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)

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