The following is a transcript of a question & answer session with Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky
, who earlier tonight was awarded the 2012-13 Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. The announcement was made at the United Center prior to Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final between the host Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.
When you think of all the great goaltenders who have won the Vezina Trophy, what does it mean to you to see your name on that list?
It is a great honor. You dream about some day winning the Vezina Trophy but there are a lot of great goaltenders, like Henrik and Antti, so it is hard but I am very proud. It also means we had a good team in Columbus and I could not have won this award without my teammates and coaches.
Are you surprised that you won?
Yes because I wasn’t really thinking about that this year. I tried to work hard every day and get better and help my team win games. The goal is always to win the Stanley Cup and we came up just short of the playoffs this year, but we had a good finish to the season.
How will winning this award affect you as you continue in your career?
I don’t know. I am still going to work hard to improve every day and help my team to win. The goal of every team and player is to win the Stanley Cup and I haven’t done that yet.
There were struggles for you and the team early in the season. Was there a game or a moment when everything sort of clicked for you?
There was no actual moment it just took some time to put everything together. I played in the KHL at the start of the season and the rink size was different and I was playing with a new team, so it just took a little time.
How much did your relationship with goaltending coach Ian Clark play into your success this season?
He was a big part of my game this year. We changed some small details in how I was playing and that really helped me a lot.
To what do you attribute your outstanding play this season?
I worked very hard and our team really improved as the season went along. It took awhile for us to know each other, but we had a great group of guys and coaches who helped and supported us. Playing in St. Petersburg and working with the goalie coach there, Jussi Parkkila, also really helped my play this year.
Was there anyone in particular who was instrumental in helping you achieve this award?
My coaches and teammates, obviously, and also the guys I work with at Red Bull training center in Salzburg during the summer really prepared me and helped my conditioning, strength and stamina.
Are there any goaltenders whose style of play you admire or try to emulate?
Not really. I have an idea in my mind how I want to play and I take little things from different players and maybe try to put that into it, but mostly I just try to play like myself.
Who has had the most influence on your career to this point?
My parents (Andrei and Larissa). They have always been with me to help and support me through good times and bad times.
What was it like playing your first season in Columbus, especially with the team’s play over the final two months of the season in the playoff race?
It was very good. I wanted the chance to become a No. 1 goaltender and I got that in Columbus. Plus, we had good players and it was fun to win games like we did and see how excited the fans were. Our goal was to win the Stanley Cup and that will always be the goal.
Did you enjoy playing in Columbus?
Yes. It is a really nice city and the people are very friendly. The fans have been great and really supported me and my teammates.
Do you think this will help ensure your spot on the Russian Team at the Olympics next year?
I would love to play in the Olympics, especially with the games in Sochi, so I will just work very hard and hopefully I will earn a place on the team.
You were traded by a team that didn't think you were a number one goaltender. A lot of people were not sure that things were going to work out in Columbus. They weren't sure if it was smart. How sweet is this moment for you to not only prove that obviously you can play in this league, but be the best goaltender in this league for an entire season?
When I was traded to Columbus, I didn't think of what people said or people think. The most important thing for me was to concentrate how I can help this team, what can I do better, how could I prepare myself to make this team even better. That was my main focus.
Do you feel like you can still become yet a better goaltender? Is this as good as you could ever play or is there still room for personal improvement?
Without question, there is still a lot more work to be done. This is not my final stage. I can be better and I'm going to be better.
Where do you stand contractually? How close do you feel like you are to getting a new contract? How much does this evening, not just the Vezina Trophy, but finishing as high as you did in the Hart Trophy, how does this help your argument, your and your agent's position?
At this moment I would like to enjoy myself winning this prestigious award. I'm not even thinking about contracts. I'm sure it will all work out itself. Right now is the moment to celebrate, and later we will sit down with my agent and think about our next steps.
Is there any chance you would leave for Russia to play in the KHL?
Wondering if you were surprised how quickly things came together for you in Columbus after the trade?
My main focus, as I said earlier, was to come there and play every game and concentrate on every single game. I wanted to win every game I played. I didn't think about how fast or how slow it was happening for me. It's a very difficult question. But you can see it goes by so fast already.
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