IIHF.com presents a 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Q&A with the Belarus forward Mikhail Grabovski – and his answers.
The Belarus and Washington Capitals forward isn’t only one of the best players for the home team, but is also one of the tournament’s top scorers.
The 30-year-old Grabovski came to Minsk after completing his eighth NHL season, in which he scored 35 points (13+22). This is his eighth World Championship.
Which NHL players do you talk to the most?
With Nikolai Kulyomin, more than others. Also, with Jason Ward, who is from Toronto. And, of course, with the Russian (Capitals) Orlov and Ovechkin.
Do you have bad feelings towards the Leafs about bailing out your contract?
(Yuri Satsukevich, Toronto)
No, I only have positive memories, only the good.
Did you only play in your age group in youth hockey, or did you play up with older players?
(Steven Raabe, Germany)
I had always played with kids who were a year older. From the early childhood I was in the 1983 birth-year-group. It wasn't easy. It's hard when physically you are not quite with them. But my head worked well, so it made it easier.
Your father has been with you at several Worlds. How happy is he to have you in Minsk for the Worlds, and how many family members do you have in the stands when you play?
(Jan Karlsson, Boras, Sweden)
This is helping like never before. Now, it's not only my father, but also my grandfather, other relatives, friends. My uncle and aunt are here.
I love watching Belarus play but I always wanted to know why aren’t there more great players from Belarus like you and Sergei.
(Bogdan Knezevic, Belgrade, Serbia)
I think, it goes back to the number of hockey players in Belarus. In other countries there are five or six time the players we have. We should be proud of what we've got.
What was your dream NHL club when you were growing up?
(Davids Eiduks, Dundee, Great Britain)
Of course. The Colorado Avalanche, with Forsberg and Sakic.
How would you compare the pressures and expectations in Toronto to what you and the rest of Team Belarus are facing right now playing at home in front of all your families, friends, fans and media?
(Jaroslav Homolka, St. Catharines, Canada)
Perhaps, the pressure is greater here. It was a bit easier in Toronto. Here, they are expecting a lot from us. It's a good experience. With every game, the pressure is less and less.
After the buyout it seems as people always undervalue what you can bring to a team. Do you use this as motivation to be better? Or do you treat it as just another obstacle a hockey player has to deal with?
(Joshua Amorim, Toronto, Canada)
I am using it as motivation and in every game I am trying to prove that those who believe in me, do so for a reason.
What is your favourite memory from representing Belarus on the international stage?
(Brendan Graham, Waterloo, Canada)
Maybe, my first World Championship in Austria when I scored four goals in one game. But even more so the one in Switzerland, when Ruslan Salei played and we had a good team. It was very easy to play and I really enjoyed it.
What are your favourite cities to stay in and why?
(Hunter Quinn Dorsen, Kontiolahti, Finland - via Facebook)
There are a lot of cities I like, but let's go with Minsk, because it's not often that I get to spend time here.
Which NHL goalie is hardest to score on during shootouts/breakaways?
(Patrik Henriksson - via Facebook)
For now, I still can't solve Ryan Miller. There also used to be Lundquist, but I have scored against him.
Which rink size, the NHL or the international, is more comfortable for you?
(Zenya Skochilyas, Grodno, Belarus - via Facebook)
It depends. I like it on both. I think that the ideal size is something in between. The small rinks don’t always give you a chance for the passing game or to use your speed. On the big rink, you get tired faster and sometimes there isn’t any strength left to capitalize on all your chances. I think, the Finnish version is ideal. I am sure that eventually everyone will use it.
Why do you hate pineapples?
(Heather Fergusson, Torono, Canada)
Pineapples? Ah, it's about that silly photo on the internet! This happened in Moscow. A journalist came to me to do an interview and I thought I'd give her an interesting picture. So, that's how it became popular in the web. But I honestly don't have anything against pineapples.