It seems obvious that Ivan Barbashev is here to stay with the St. Louis Blues.
The young Russian forward has two goals and one assist on the season. He’s still not getting a ton of ice time. Monday night in Los Angeles, he was out there just over 10 minutes. Only Dmitrij Jaskin saw less time, and he got his face mashed in by teammate Robert Bortuzzo. But at least he’s playing, right Nail Yakupov and Zach Sanford?
We’ve heard a little from Barbashev. When he scored his first goal in Ottawa, he didn’t get a lot of congratulations on his phone because he didn’t have a data plan that worked in Canada. He seems kind of quiet, but how much of that is attributed to the language barrier?
Thankfully we have a peek into the rookie thanks to a recent interview with Sport-Express in Russia. Now if you clicked that link, you got a Russian language site. You speak Russian well? Yeah, neither do we. That’s why we have to say thank you to Alessandro Seren Rosso and his full English translation at The Hockey Writers.
The entire conversation is more than we’ve heard from Barbashev since he joined the Blues 16 games ago, so if you’ve got the time, give it a read. In case you don’t, here are a few insights that are particularly interesting.
Apparently Barbashev entertained a contract offer from a KHL team.
AS: Last summer you had a good offer from Dynamo Moscow. I heard that you almost signed it.
IB: Yes, it’s true. I really almost signed it. But in the end, I decided to spend a further year in America. I decided that I would just get back home if I wouldn’t get a chance in the NHL. At the end of the day I want to play at the highest level. Now I understand that I took the correct decision. I still have one year out of my contract with the Blues and everything is in my hands.
Now you can argue that either something was lost in translation or Barbashev doesn’t realize after his first contract is up that he’s still be a restricted free agent, but the fact that he almost never arrived in St. Louis is eye opening.
How did Barbashev feel about the Blues coaching change this season?
AS: Maybe you had a sigh of relief when you heard about Ken Hitchcock’s firing. You didn’t have a chance with him.
IB: I think you understand that I simply cannot reply the way you would like to. But I do say that I really enjoy working with Mike Yeo. With him, the teams changed a lot of things, and wins started to come. Yes, we had some bad games, but we don’t feel like we’re out of the playoffs yet. It’s interesting to work with him, and our attitude radically changed.
Even speaking in Russian to a reporter who would be filing a story back in the Motherland, Barbashev was smart enough not to volunteer an opinion on the subject...even though the interviewer made it clear that he probably already knew Barbashev’s feelings on the matter. Plausible deniability. Veteran move.
Finally, Barbashev gives a glimpse of how the Wolves and Blues seem to be working together this season compared to recent years.
AS: This season you played very well in the AHL. What is the secret of your progress?
IB: I have much more trust. Our coach is Craig Berube. In spite that he was an enforcer, he knows hockey very well. We played in a much more systemized style. And this year there are much better ties between the Wolves and St. Louis. Finally, the AHL team started helping the Blues.
In the original interview, Barbashev talks about his frustration not getting called up, playing with Ryan Reaves and what it’s like living in St. Louis.