It's not every day your email inbox dings and you have a message from Владислав Гавриков.
But that was how things went for me on a recent morning. After the initial surprise wore off, it was obvious that I had just received a message from Vladislav Gavrikov.
The Blue Jackets rookie defenseman and his wife and dog have returned to his native Russia during the coronavirus pause, and half a world away, an email interview was the best way to get in touch with Gavrikov.
And the always-smiling CBJ fan favorite was more than willing to answer a few questions. Gavrikov has impressed during his initial campaign, as the 24-year-old has formed a shutdown pairing with David Savard and has posted a 5-13-18 line and plus-1 rating in 69 games so far this year.
Read on to see what Gavrikov had to say about how things are going as well as his first season with the Blue Jackets and more.
You are back home in Russia, correct? What city are you in? And can you tell me a little bit about what the area is like? Obviously not a ton of Americans get to go over to Russia so they don't know what it's like.
Yes, I am in Russia now, in Saint Petersburg. The city is situated on Neva River and in my opinion, this is the most beautiful city here in Russia with amazing architecture! There are more than 300 bridges, 21 of which are drawbridges. The world championship will be held here in 2022, everyone who has an opportunity and time must visit this city!
Video: Building Blocks: Vladislav Gavrikov highlights
What have you been doing to fill your time during the pause?
I think the same way as everyone else. First, I just had a rest, then started training to stay in shape. It is always good to be home with my family but we are also waiting for the season renewal. We are all missing the game and our fans.
You've said all year it was a relatively easy transition from Russia to the United States, but now that you've had some time to think about it, was there anything that surprised you about the American culture or moving over here? Or was it really a pretty simple move?
I was ready to move, I was at tournaments in Canada several times with the Russian national team, I was also at training camps in the United States, so I knew what to expect. Of course, there are always some differences as these are different countries and cultures. Americans impressed me, they are always smiling. If you just take a dog for a walk, meet somebody in the elevator, almost everyone will smile and be friendly to you and ask how you are doing.
You seemed to become a fan favorite here with your personality. What was it like being embraced by Blue Jackets fans so quickly?
This is very cool! You always feel their support. I would like to thank all the fans again!
Have you had a chance to talk to many of your teammates recently? I know you and Elvis are close and he's still here, have you been able to stay in touch with him?
Yes, I am keeping in touch with everyone in our group chat. I called Elvis a few times. Asked how things were going on, congratulated him on signing a contract.
Mikhail Grigorenko said he talked to you about what Columbus is like before deciding to sign with the Blue Jackets. What were those conversations like and will it be nice to have him as a teammate again?
Yes, I also talked to him. This is great that there will be another Russian player in our team. He will definitely be able to help us, he is a great player with very good skills. I am glad that Mikhail will join us.
On the hockey front, you had to be interested to see how you'd perform on the ice coming to the NHL. Are you happy with how you transitioned into the North American game?
I think everything turned out well. Thanks to the entire organization, they helped me to quickly adapt to all the things which were new to me.
Now that you have a year under your belt, where do you feel you can be better as a player going forward?
I am becoming more confident on the ice every day and now I feel comfortable. The whole team started playing better. In the future we will be able to fight for the Stanley Cup.