are we playing detroit

Geno answered some questions from hockey fans for NHL.com/ru (Published date - April 7, 2017). Thank you so much @raindropcastle  for the help with the translation! 😇

- Evgeni, who is the best defensman in the NHL?

- Right now it’s Brent Burns from San Jose. He’s very effective on offense and he plays hard on defense. He’s having the best season of his career. Dominates in the team and in the league. Good shot, skating. It’s hard to play against him; he’s strong physically.

- Which NHL match do you remember most?

- There were enough of them, but probably Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final against Detroit. There was tremendous pressure; we played on the road. The Red Wings were pressing us in the third period. Frankly, they outplayed us. But we scored fast goals in the first and second periods and held on to the lead. I remember a lot of excitement; how we wanted to win the Cup. Incredible emotions!

- Which Stanley Cup was heavier to raise - the first or the second?

- The first, because we lost the final to Detroit in 2008. It was very disappointing. Then we started the season badly. We were losing a lot of games, and changed the coach. However, we managed to reverse the situation. And we won game 7, though Detroit was slightly better. We played three lines in the third period, as Sid got injured. Our force was running out. If it went to overtime, we probably simply wouldn’t have had enough power. It was the most difficult victory. With the second Stanley Cup it was a bit easier. We led 2-0 in the series and matches developed in our favor.

- How do you measure Pittsburgh’s strengths in the fight for the Stanley Cup?

- It was a very busy season; there was the World Cup and last season we reached the Finals. We played a lot of matches in the last two years. But we have a good team, and the team’s makeup almost didn’t change. Young guys joined the team. They show a bright game, getting a lot of points. Jake Guentzel, for example. It’s a bit difficult to pronounce his name (smiles). These guys bring lots of speed. We have a good enough chance this season, if the injuries bypass us and we get a little bit of rest before the playoffs.

- Jaromir Jagr is already 45 years old, and he wants to sign a new contract with Florida. Up to what age would you like to play?

- It’s hard to guess, I’m only 30. I’d like to reach 40. Hockey is my life. And if you finish your career, it will become quite boring. But it all depends on your health. If your health allows, you can play for a long time. And if not, then don’t pull the last straw, don’t chase records and points. 

It happens, when hockey players suffer from concussions and it has lasting effects on their life after their career. People lose their memory. But I want my children to have a healthy dad. It’s important for an athlete to leave when it’s time.

- What was your favorite NHL team, before Pittsburgh chose you?

- I liked Colorado, as well as Detroit. I remember when the Russian Five was playing there, I was wearing a red cap. Then came the jacket with the emblem of Colorado. I loved Forsberg, Sakic, as well as Fedorov, Yzerman. At the time, it was difficult to follow the NHL, but I read in the newspapers about battles between those two teams in the playoffs. They even had had five on five fights. All of that was interesting to follow.

- Who is the best hockey player in the world?

- Sidney Crosby. I play with him, and I’ve seen a lot. Now there’s also Connor McDavid, a unique young hockey player. He shows tremendous hockey skill. So I’ll single out these two.

- You have two Stanley Cups. When you were with the national team did you make fun of Ovechkin?

- No, how can you say so? We respect each other. You see, the NHL and the national team are different things. And how can I gloat over Ovechkin? It would be very ugly. I understand how much he wants to win, his desire. You can’t joke about this.

- Is the gap between our hockey and Canadian hockey that big?

- Yes, there is a difference. Compare at least the number of hockey rinks here and there. But Russia has always been famous for individually strong players who played in small cities, and then reached big heights. Hockey in Canada is a tradition, it’s very widespread. Out of a thousand players, ten will be very good, and they will get through to the top. We have single breakthroughs, but there’s no such mass character. That’s what we need to develop, so young people will go for sports more and hang out in nightclubs less.

 - Do you began to play more accurately with age?

- I won’t say that my game has changed a lot, but with experience you get smarter. If you see a situation where a quick pass is the option and holding onto the puck isn’t a necessity - you’ll quickly pass it and won’t take an extra hit.

 - Do you often attend NBA and NFL matches?

- I rarely go see American football. We have a heavy schedule, and when the Steelers play at home, we’re on the road. But I love all kinds of sports. I go see NBA games if there’s time on the road. A couple of times I even went to Cleveland - it’s two hours away from Pittsburgh. We saw LeBron James the year he reached the Finals. They won the sixth match at home. Basketball is a very interesting sport. And it’s always interesting to watch how professionals work.

You know, that was by far the best phone-light game we’ve seen all tour. Like wow that was fucking incredible. And you know I think part of it is because we’re like surrogate Michiganders. We used to play shows ten years ago at the shelter near Detroit. We would go there every weak and watch and play shows. And one time they were just like “hey, if you’re not Michigan residents, you can’t keep coming here every week” like I fucking love Michigan, man.
—  Pete Wentz after Just One Yesterday in Detroit 7/8/14
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This year, my dad and I began our first real tour together in support of Sukierae, the so-called “solo album performed by a duo” we released in September. We played our first show in Detroit just four days after my high school graduation (with only four full band rehearsals under our belt) and have since played 39 shows in 19 states and 9 countries. We’re all done for 2014 now — and Wilco is in the middle of its “Winterlude” residency at the Riviera in Chicago — but excited for more shows to come soon…

We saw so many places and so many people on the road, it was, at times, too much to fully process. I got to meet people who have been reading my writing since I was twelve years old. We were on Austin City Limits, the Tonight Show, and the Colbert Report. We played at the historic Ryman Auditorium and even ate lunch at the White House. I tried to document as much as I could with my iPhone, but I think these film pictures offer a nice lil’ glimpse into what it’s like to be on the road with Jim, Darin, Liam, my dad, all the crew and me. For more day-to-day documentation, please read my Tweeter.

I still can’t believe that I get to play music professionally. It is such a privilege — of this era, of fans’ kindness, and of my family’s sacrifice — and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do it. Music seems like an inconsequential niche of society but people continue to value it, and it enables us to travel around the world and express ourselves artistically. That boggles my mind.

I also want to add that while my dad and I were traveling — working hard, but nonetheless having fun — my brother Sammy began his first year of high school, and my mom coped — and is still coping — with treatment for two simultaneous cancers. (High school and cancer… We get through these things.) Even though we got to be home a lot during these months, I know it was still hard for them to get shit done with two men down on the roster. Thank you, mommy and Sammy.

See you in 2015.

View the photos here →