After their hard-fought win against the Zagreb Bears, Donbass' Ruslan Fedotenko spoke to us about his life after the NHL, fond memories from North America and much more. This two time Stanley Cup winner and Donbass captain played for 4 NHL franchises and scored the Cup clinching goal in 2004 against Calgary. Moreover, the 34-year old winger was loved by fans no matter where he played.
You won two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Which one was your favorite?
'Well, they both are. I mean, you can't pick one, they are both special and important. It's kind of like your kids, you can't pick one favorite. The first one was full of great experiences, much like the second one - something I'll remember for the rest of my life.'
After playing so long in North America and now coming back to the KHL, what did you expect and how did the league answer those expectations?
'The league is pretty good. I knew it was going to be a good league. I feel that in certain places the fans are really good but in certain places not as good because of less attendance. But it's a new league, it's growing, it has great support and great players and I think that's great (moving forward).'
Besides Sidney Crosby, who is the best player you played with?
'Oh, I played with many great players, I mean, I've played with Malkin, Crosby, with Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Giroux. It's like every time you go to a certain place, you're playing on a great team. Gaborik and Lundqvist - this list is huge.'
Who did you have the best chemistry with in the NHL?
'With Malkin, we won a Cup there and I felt there was really good chemistry there and again, when I won the Cup in '04 with the Lightning I played with Vinny Lecavalier and since he's also a great player it was easy developing great chemistry there. It really depends year-to-year, but you can always find players with whom you click.'
Let's touch on the teams you played for, more precisely, coaches you played for. What was it like playing for John Tortorella?
'Oh, I played quite a few years for him, he was a tactical coach, very good attention to detail. I think he was probably the best coach I had in the NHL. Obviously, he had a certain way of handling some other stuff and maybe I'm not a big fan of certain things but I feel that as a coach, a tactical coach, with keeping guys accountable and everything else I think he was the best coach.'
And Medvescak, how were they like to play against? Could you describe them as an opposition?
'They are a good team. Obviously, they had the home ice advantage with the smaller rink and everything but I played in the smaller rink before so it doesn't really affect me but with the rest of the team, especially those who have never played on a smaller ice surface before, it's a bit of an adjustment. But they are a good team, I just felt they played better against us in Donetsk. We were working hard, these were important three points and our team played really well so you can't really complain.'
Do you have a favorite city from the time you spent in the NHL?
'I don't have just one. I mean, you go to Tampa and you play there and always have special memories and great weather and then you go to New York and play at Madison Square Garden - what a great place to play with all the history. I think it's a special building. Then, you go to Pittsburgh - I mean, I won a Cup there and still have many fans so really, it would be impossible to name just one.'