STEVEN SARDARIAN: "CHESS DEVELOPS GAME THINKING, IT CAN COME IN HANDY IN HOCKEY.
“Red Army” forward Steven Sardarian talked about his talents outside of hockey, his change of playing number and also named his three of his favorite players.
— The first question is pretty standard - why hockey?
My parents brought me. They chose this sport. At the time we lived in St. Petersburg, and the choice was between soccer and hockey. We ended up going for hockey.
— Did anyone in the family play sports?
No, no one did. My dad is a businessman, my mom is a housewife. They wanted me to be a sportsman.
— Was the move from St. Petersburg to Moscow about hockey?
Yes, it was. I played on the "Bulldogs" team. Then my first coach, Maxim Maksimov, under whom I started training, moved to the "Silver Lions", at that time one of the strongest teams in the city. I followed him. Played a few seasons there. Then I moved to Moscow. It was really connected with my hockey career. I joined the "Russ" team and my family decided to move to Moscow. It turns out that I practically initiated the move (laughs).
— In 2018, you received an offer to move to CSKA. How did you feel about it, how did your parents react?
I was pleased. Ever since I was a kid, I knew that the CSKA hockey school was one of the strongest in the country and that this is the club that always sets the highest goals. I don't hide the fact that I've always dreamed of playing for CSKA. That's why, when I was invited, we didn't think much about it.
— This season you made your debut in the Red Army. Was it hard to go from high school to the MHL?
I wouldn't say it was hard. But still, there is a difference. All teams are of good and approximately equal level; there are no openly weak opponents. Another important difference is that the MHL has much bigger players and older teams. Speeds are good and you have to make quick decisions right on the rink.
— You started out playing number seven, but in the "Red Army" you have number six. Why such a choice?
I've played number seven all my life. When I started in St. Petersburg, I'd been playing that way forever. And when I came to CSKA, Vasily Dronyk had that number. My dad liked that number, and I liked the seven. Then Vasya and I made a pact: the one with the most points during the season gets the number. In the end I won; I scored more. But Vasily was injured and missed half of the season. So, I decided to leave the number seven to him. And I stayed at number six. I also liked him, he scored a lot of points and had a good season. It worked, so to speak.
— It' s noble of you to do so.
We must treat each other with respect.
— Do you have a player whose style you like, someone you'd like to be like?
You always have to be yourself, so that everyone could look up to you in the future. But there are three favorite players, they are Steven Stamkos, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikita Kucherov. I would like to be more like Kucherov. I like his style, he's very technical and has a clear thinking.
— In 2017, you were a member of the Moscow team at the Tournament in Sochi. What do you remember of that tournament?
We won first place there. It's always a pleasure to win and play for the Moscow team. We did our task for the tournament. The organization was at the highest level.
— In 2018, you went to North America for the U15 World Selects Invitational in Philadelphia. Was it interesting to be a part of it?
It was a new challenge and a new stage in my career. I enjoyed it very much, especially overseas. New partners, new language, atmosphere. It was interesting to try something new.
— Did you note anything for yourself? What is North American hockey like compared to Russian hockey?
It's faster, it's a kick-and-run style of hockey. The guys are big. I think our hockey is stronger, smarter, tactically we are more competent.
— Let's move away from hockey. The passion for chess - where did it come from? Why such a choice?
It's all my dad. He's a very interesting, versatile man. He took me to chess school. What is chess? It's a delicate, strategic game where you have to think several moves ahead of your actions. And that can come in handy in hockey. I used to study at school, I had tutors come to me three or four times a week. Chess develops game thinking.
— If you didn't play hockey, what sport would you choose?
100% I would choose soccer. I love this sport very much. Watching, playing, commentating. I've always played soccer when I had time. And we also have a house in Spain, and over there soccer is life.
— Do you have any other hobbies?
If not related to sports, I like drawing. When I was a kid I went to an art school, I don't know why, but I liked it a lot. Now, of course, the skill has gone. I used to be better at it, I did three or four years of drawing. Three times a week I went to the art school in St. Petersburg. I painted in different genres: portraits, still life, marine paintings. Sometimes they even made it to exhibitions.
— Such a busy childhood - chess, drawing, hockey.
You always have to develop. I am grateful to my parents.
— What did you do during the period of self-isolation? Didn't you find a new hobby for yourself?
All of this happened unexpectedly and not at the right time. We had to go to the championship of Russia among my peers. I spent the first three weeks in Moscow, doing my physical exercises. But then, when we were not allowed to go out, I worked out at home. But the main preparation was for my USE exams - biology, Russian and Math. Then I went to St. Petersburg, where I continued to prepare for the exams.
—Which university did you apply?
Like many of our guys, I chose the Russian State University of Physical Education.
— What are your goals and objectives for the season?
You should always set high and serious goals. My first and foremost goal is to help the team score points. To make the playoffs from the higher position in the regular season. And in the Kharlamov Cup the only goal is to win every game. I would like to play in the playoffs. The older guys say that the regular season and playoffs are different, you should check it out by yourself. The goal is to always win!