Richard Delacy, Roman Solovyov,
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Danish international defenseman Philip Larsen spoke to about his decision to return to the KHL, Salavat Yulaev’s recent troubles, and Denmark's qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

Salavat Yulaev has suffered a poor run of form which has seen the Ufa Men lose five out of six games. It presents a major challenge to head coach Erkka Westerlund, as his team now finds itself in a precarious sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings, and all this despite the addition to the roster of former Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks D-man Philip Larsen. The Dane scored in five successive matches earlier in the season, and his account shows a healthy 20 (8+12) points, but even he is now two months into a goal drought.


“We are in a slump right now”

- Philip, what has been going wrong with the team over the last couple of weeks?

- I don't know. We are in a slump right now. It is hard, but we need to find a way to get out of it and start winning.

- Did you take any positives from the 0-3 loss against CSKA on Wednesday?

- It is hard to be positive after a defeat. We worked hard, but we did not put away our chances, as we know we can. We must not forget about the work ethic. We really need to improve in certain areas. We are struggling, and must to find a way to turn things around as soon as possible.

- Is it true you had a players' meeting the day before?

- It is good sometimes to get together as a team and air your opinions. At the end of the day, the problem is not with the coaches, the management, or the owners. It’s the players that have to do what needs to be done, go out onto the ice, and find a way to win, and I hope we do it soon.

- What about you? in the last few games you have made some crucial mistakes.

- I try not to think about it.

- Short memory?

- Definitely, a short memory. It would be great if you could undo it, but you have to put it behind you. Mistakes happen, but if you dwell on them, then nothing good will come of it.

- Did you know that Erkka Westerlund said you were the best defenseman in the League?

- I didn't hear that, no, but I would be wary of naming the best defensemen in the KHL. I am trying to do my best out on the ice, and to be professional. Of course, a player performs better in some games than in others. At the moment, the whole team has room for improvement.

- What is it like working under Erkka Westerlund? He was also your head coach at Jokerit.

- I have played in many teams, in many leagues. and I think Erkka is one of the smartest coaches I ever had. I really like the way he thinks about the game. We are not scoring enough goals right now, but it is not for Erkka to change anything. We, the players, have to change things.

- It seems that at Salavat Yulaev there is even more pressure on the team than at Jokerit.

- I don't think about pressure. The only thing you can influence is yourself, and I always try to keep that in mind. If you prepare properly and have confidence, then you can achieve the desired results. We need some confidence, but maybe we'll get a lucky goal. These spells happen to every player and every team, from childhood onwards, and you cannot expect a constant, upward curve in fortune. I wish it were not the case, of course.

- And what about yourself? You have not been scoring for a few weeks.

- For me, personally, I just need to get shots on target, and then the goals will come.


“Linus is very proud of Sweden”

- Are you a football fan?

- I am, a little bit.

- Was there any talk in the locker room about the World Cup qualifiers?

- I know Denmark have qualified for the World Cup in Russia - they just beat Ireland, 5-1. Of course, football is very big in Denmark; it's the national sport.

- So, you have every reason to spend June in Russia.

- Maybe I should spend the summer in Russia and watch some of the games. I wouldn’t normally be here in June, because that is when we take our vacations, but the World Cup is a huge event. If Sweden gets to play Denmark, then maybe I should call up Linus (Omark).

- Is Linus a big fan?

- Linus is very proud of Sweden. After we played the game in Bratislava, he got his phone and followed live of coverage of Sweden's World Cup qualifying game against Italy.


- What is like for you, returning to the KHL?

- I had a chance to stay in the NHL, but at the same time, I wanted to play in Erkka's team. I believe in his hockey philosophy. When I got the offer, I realized that I should not pass up such a chance.

- Do you not have any concerns that things might not go well?

- I like playing here in the KHL; it is a good leagu with a fast pace. I have a two-year contract, and I am happy with that. I'm not making any plans beyond that.

- The match-up of the year for you is surely against Jokerit - your former team, and one with a lot of Danish players.

- Yes, it is special to play against a former team, especially one where I have so many friends. It was good to be back at the Hartwall Arena, of which I have so many fond memories, even though I was only there for a year. My family came to watch the game, and we spent a pleasant few days there, giving us even more happy memories.


Philip Larsen Fact File:
Born: 07-12-1989, in в Esbjerg (Denmark).
Career: 2005-2006 Rogle BK (Sweden), 2006-2010 – Frolunda (Sweden), 2010-2013 – Dallas Stars (NHL), 2012-2013 – Lukko (Finland), 2013-2014 – Edmonton Oilers  (NHL), 2014-2015 – Ugra, 2015-2016 – Jokerit, 2016-2017 – Vancouver Canucks (NHL), 2017 – Salavat Yulaev.

Richard Delacy, Roman Solovyov,
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