Russian pro to make Christchurch home in 2013

March 1, 2013 - Canterbury's first step to defending its 2012 championship starts with the signing of Russian import, Nikita Smirnov. Nikita has played his entire pro career in Eastern Europe with appearances in the Russian Super League and the KHL.

Quick Questions:

Favourite food:
A: Borscht; (A Russian or Polish soup made with beets and usually served with sour cream.)

Preferred Hockey Brands (Skate/Stick/Apparel)
A: ССМ, Bauer, whatever is comfortable; no favourites here.

Favourite Shootout Move:
A: Shoot it.

Hockey Idol:
A: Gordie Howe

Favourite Goal Celebration
A: I just get my hands up and scream Goooooal!:)

On 2 minutes mark, Smirnov #90, scores a power play goal

Q: At the age of 25 you must be entering the peak of your career – What inspired you to come to New Zealand to play?
The hockey season in New Zealand starts during my holidays here in Russia. I usually play hockey with other guys in off-season to keep myself fit anyhow. Playing for the Red Devils gives me another challenge to help my new team to defend their NZIHL title as well as the whole new experience of playing in a different league, with a different environment and players. It will also help me to get ready for my next season here in northern hemisphere. And of course, trip to New Zealand is the trip of my lifetime!

Q: Import players in the NZIHL have an almost mentoring role – here to raise the level of play. How do you feel about taking on that role on the ice?
I’m very positive about this. I’ll be more than happy to share my knowledge and experience with local guys and I hope it will help to lift the Red Devils up to the next level.

Q: Who are some mentors and inspirational players you've come across in your career?
I’ve played for quite a number of teams during my career and met lots and lots of good players, but will never forget influence of two players that I was lucky to play with. Without doubt, the first one is Jaromir Jagr who I played with over in Omsk during the 2008 KHL campaign. I was so excited just to step on ice with him and play alongside ‘The Legend’! I have to say that Jaromir is a Pro! I was really impressed with his workaholic attitude; he always was the hardest working guy in every practice and even in every shift of every game and obviously he’s got amazing skills. 

Later on, when I moved to play in Ukraine, I met another awesome guy and great player – Andrei Nikolishin. Playing with Andrei in the same line was really good experience. Very smart guy and strong personality; Andrei really was like a mentor for me. (Andrei played 600+ NHL games and represented Russian a number of times)

I’ve learnt a lot from those two players and willing to share this with local guys in New Zealand.

Q: Off the ice what parts of New Zealand are you looking forward to?
I’d love to see the Pacific Ocean, whales and the beautiful New Zealand nature. I’d also like to get a taste of the New Zealand lifestyle.  I love visiting new places.

Q: What do you like to do to relax?
I’m a family guy. My wife and I can just have a walk in park or go to movie. We also love travelling and that’s another reason why I’ve chosen Red Devils. Believe or not, but I always wanted to visit New Zealand.

Q: What would you like to be doing after your time with the Red Devils?
I’m looking at possibility to sign for one of the top-European leagues. Maybe this year or next, not sure yet but I’d like to test myself in one of those leagues.

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