UFA – At the age of 18, Aleksander Barkov Jr. has already made Finnish hockey history. In the SM-Liiga, the son of the famous Soviet Spartak forward Alexander Barkov, who also was the head coach of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, scored his first goal at the age of 16 years, one month and two days. That made him the youngest scorer in the history of the championship.
The previous record was set by Juha Jyrkkiö in 1975, and this achievement lasted for nearly 40 years. He’s projected to have a big future and could even be the top selection in the next NHL draft. The tall, technical and fast forward made an excellent impression during an interview with IIHF.com in which he discussed why he chose to play for national team of Finland, how often he comes to Russia, and who, in his opinion, will probably win the gold at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Ufa.
Alexander, you are Finnish, but you have a Russian family name. Why do you play for the national team of Finland?
Mainly because I was born in Finland, all my friends are there, and I went to school there, so I enjoy being a part of the national team.
Your father is a well-known centre. He played for Spartak Moscow. Did he give you any advice on how to play hockey?
Yes, he still does...
You are 18, but playing for the U20 team. How’s it working out for you?
It is great. I am feeling very comfortable. But my goal is to be the best among my teammates.
Your father coached Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Now he is an assistant coach in Kazan. Would you like to play in the KHL someday?
Sure. But now I am headed to the NHL. That's my main approach. If I don't make it, then – the KHL is the second best option.
Do you have special relations toward the Russian national team? How many times have you scored against them?
Not really, I did not score even once [against them] so far...
When are you going to put yourself into the NHL draft?
This year is for players born in 1995, so this year, I think.
Do you have idols in hockey?
[Pavel] Datsyuk and [Yevgeni] Malkin.
How cool are Mikael Granlund and his younger brother Markus, who came to Ufa?
They are good guys, of course, not self-centered. Good team players.
Who is the favourite to win this championship in your opinion?
We have a good chance. Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden – you have to put them all in that conversation.
What do you know about Nail Yakupov, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
I know everything about them!
Do you often come to Russia? Does your father still own an apartment in Moscow?
Three years ago was the last time I was there. Now it's too hard to go there – too busy.
What is the essence of Finnish hockey for you?
Skating. However, we have a hard time scoring - we're not so good at the final stage of attack.
With contributions from Vladislav Domrachyov and Taras Mukovoz.