Maxim Kitsyn stops to shake a fan's hand after his name is called at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
There’s an old saying in Russia that if you’re promised something, you will have to wait three years to get it (if at all). Yet when I contacted Maxim Kitsyn — a Russian and the Los Angeles Kings’ 6th-round draft pick — for an interview I got a quick response. An enthusiastic “yes,” followed by immediate action. I sent him questions, and less than 24 hours later I had his answers — all this while he was participating in the Kings’ prospect camp.
This was just my first insight into Kitsyn’s maturity, responsibility and dedication to play in North America. It is clear that he takes his career very seriously.
In speaking with him prior to the interview, I found him to be a very gracious and courteous person. As you will see, he is also well spoken (his answers were sent back to us in Russian and translated by Goddess Thorkhild). Though he replied in his native tongue, he does like to practice his English whenever he gets a chance.
HockeyGoddesses: Since you don’t play in here yet we’d like to let the fans in Los Angeles and North America get to know you personally.
What did you do in Los Angeles during the draft? Had you been in North America before? How did you like it?
Maxim Kitsyn: I came to Los Angeles with my parents, and there was one more Russian on the plane — Stas Galiyev [Stanislav Galiev, who was selected by the Washington Capitals in the 3rd round]. He was with his mom too. So we didn’t have time to get bored. And during the draft my parents, my agent, his daughter and our lawyer went somewhere each day. We either went shopping or went to the ocean. We didn’t manage to go to Hollywood. There were terrible traffic jams that day.
HG: Have you always wanted to play in the NHL?
MK: Yes, of course. I don’t know any young hockey player in Russia who wouldn’t like to play in this league.
Maxim Kitsyn dons his new colors.
HG: What players did you admire growing up?
MK: If you name any NHL player of this time I’d say I liked his game. I cannot distinguish anyone specific.
HG: What do you like to do in your free time during the season?
MK: I don’t have much spare time, but when I do, I like to have a good rest. I also like to spend time with my friends, but we don’t meet often. I see one of my friends only once a year, though we live just a five-minute walk from each other. And, of course, I love to be with my girlfriend; we just go for a walk or sit somewhere in a cafe, for example.
HG: What do you do in the off-season?
MK: Usually I rest a little. Last year I was in Turkey, and before the camp of my KHL team I go train in America or Canada. This year our playoffs were over at the end of April and the tests [the NHL Combine] before the draft were just a month away. All of the guys from my team were resting, and I had to go to the rink everyday to keep up my physical conditioning. I wanted to go somewhere to vacation between the NHL Combine and the draft, but my family had a lot to do this summer, and I didn’t manage to leave. Now, the Los Angeles Kings have chosen me, and our [development] camp started earlier than all others — just four days after the draft. So I am spending my holidays this way. :)
HG: Who has had the greatest influence on your career? What was his or her best advice?
MK: My parents. They often sacrificed themselves to help me and my brother (he is three years older). They did everything for us, so that the only thing we had to do was to go on the ice and play hockey. For example, in the hockey school I went to, every age group had the year when training started at 7 a.m. in the morning. At 6:15 a.m. you had to be in the dressing room, so at 6 a.m. you had to leave home. Mom got up at 5 a.m. to start cooking for us. I am very grateful to my parents. Me and my brother still play hockey. But if not for them we wouldn’t have achieved anything.
HG: When do you think you will come to play in North America?
MK: In fact, I have wanted to come to play in the Canadian Hockey League, but I have a contract with a Kontinental Hockey League club [Metallurg Novokuznetsk], and no CHL team previously wanted to take a risk by picking me in the draft. But this year, Mississuaga has chosen me. If everything is worked out and I can come at least by the end of the year to the Ontario Hockey League, I’ll be very happy.
HG: There are many great Russians playing in the KHL that we, here in North America, have never seen. Who is the best player in the KHL that nobody in North America has heard of?
MK: I don’t know who you have heard about and who you haven’t, but I can say that there are very many players in the KHL who could become leaders in the NHL.
HG: What advice can you give young players? How can a player achieve the highest level of hockey?
MK: To listen to the coach and to keep doing your business as a professional. There are moments when you feel you can’t manage to do anything and want to leave it all, but then you remember what goals you have and understand that you must keep going.
HG: Do you have any training secrets? How do you psychologically prepare for games?
MK: Those I keep to myself ;). I’ll say one thing: Each hockey player and sportsman in general have their little secrets. :)
Photos: Maxim Kitsyn and fan by Goddess Sasha. Kitsyn in Kings jersey by Getty Images.