Bartulis waits for news from Donetsk


Some dose of adrenaline should be at any season. Hockey player Oskars Bartulis after having a groin surgery in spring has started to prepare for the next season, but the politically instable situation in Ukraine causes uncertainty and it isn’t known what will be the home town of the club Donbass Donetsk. Meanwhile Bartulis already for the fourth year organizes Bartulis/Skrastins hockey camp for children and getting ready for start in Latvian Rally in July.

What is your main occupation at the moment – are you a coach, a manager or an events’ organizer?

I haven’t actually thought about this. The main idea is to enjoy everything you do.

The first hockey camp was organized in summer 2011 together with Karlis Skrastins who died in air crash in Yaroslavl. I still recall that Karlis had quite bad back pain at that time…

During the first camp day we wanted to be on ice together with all children and we didn’t calculate the total load. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. – this was too much. Whole week after that Karlis was lying on bed with bad back pain, but still he came to the closing event of the camp. A Jeep arrived and to my surprise the chair by the driver was set in lying position. Karlis couldn’t even sit in a normal position, but still he came to shake hands with each camp participant.

It seems that you gave the first push for organizing the camp?

I wouldn’t say so, because the decision was made at Karlis place in Baltezers while watching football game. We were three together also with Juris Klodans. We had heard this in America that something like this should be organized also here. One of coaches from Philadelphia Flyers Slava Kuznetsov floated the idea to organize camp and he also takes part in it.

There are high class specialists – from the NHL and Sweden?

Specialization of Kuznetsov is ice skating. Tim Turk works within the system of Carolina Hurricanes teaches how to throw correctly and give passes. The Swedish coach Matiass Jonson has good exercises with pucks to do on ground. As you see we have experts in all positions. This is already the fourth year the camp takes place and we can see how children have improved their skills.

Also during the camp time you keep on following developments in Ukraine. Have you received any news from Donbass Donetsk regarding the next hockey season?

In this year camp we have invited to work also the coach from Donbass Vladimir Vorobyov who is responsible for defensemen in the hockey club, which means that he overviews also my performance on ice. We discuss with him developments in Donetsk almost every day. If even he is uncertain then even more uncertain are the players. We try not to think about this on everyday basis because we cannot influence there anything. They say – there will be solution found within a week.

Do the KHL rules envisage guarantee for players who have contract for the next season?

This is totally different situation because there is a concern about lives of people. Shortly before I have talked to the office employee of our club and it turns out that it has even been suggested to the club operating personnel not to come to work for several weeks for security reasons.

Have you asked if it is really possible to restore the burned arena roof until the beginning of the season while talking to the club representative?

The situation isn’t as bad as was described in mass media. Not all the roof has been burned down, just one flank. It is possible to restore the roof, but the question is, will we be allowed to play in Donetsk.

Do many players from the previous year team have already contracts for the next season?

The most interesting fact is that the team has already been completed. Maybe there is a vacancy in forward, because just now Evgeny Dadonov has been given away or traded, even do not know what term to use, but the fact is that he moves to the Saint Petersburg SKA. This was also to us some kind of specific signal to start to think what would happen to whole team.

During the spring play-off games there was no sign of any alarm about happenings in Ukraine in your club. As if just Riga Dinamo goalkeeper Mikael Tellqvist has shown worries when flying to Donetsk…

We were all the time there and saw that nothing extraordinary takes place in the city. At that time Kiev was at the epicenter of events but the management of the league decided that our home games should take place away. The only discomfort was caused by uncertainty. When going to the games we didn’t know how many clothes to take, because we had no idea when we are coming back.

Didn’t the head coach of the Donetsk club Andrei Nazarov ask for some advices before play-off games with Riga Dinamo?

No, he knows everything well by himself, furthermore we had a goalkeepers’ coach in our team (Sergey Naumov – auth.) and he knew all things even better than me, because he had worked for Riga Dinamo team.

Nazarov as a coach in KHL is well known with his emotional outbreaks in Vityaz team. During the game in Minsk he even tried to hit a spectator with hockey stick over the plexy-glass. Nazarov himself has been a hockey “police” and his career developed in North America. Can it be felt?

Yes for sure. When I first went to KHL, I was warned that there will be exhausting summer training camps. There is no such with Nazarov. He has overtaken the North America praxis, but works according to his own prepared plan. Trainings are not long but very intense. Nazarov applies North America style similarly as Ted Nolan in Latvia National team therefore it was not hard to play in his team.

Nolan’s time in Latvia National team has come to an end. What has he passed to Latvia hockey as coach?

He was the first national team coach who totally trusted his players. Nolan did not go to check who is in his room at 10 p.m.; he did not care about this. Nolan’s main demand was that each player works with full effort in trainings and 100% return during the games. This trustful attitude encouraged several players to feel freer on ice. Of course he had a special ability to inspire the team before games. I remember this still from times I played in Canada junior team coached by him in Monkton. Nolan told us that we will go and beat them.

Maybe you have received an offer to go back to North America to play there?

To be honest then yes- even during the previous season I received an offer to break the contract with Donbass and go over the ocean. This isn’t so easy moreover during the Olympic year. Furthermore I am satisfied both with financial and household conditions there in Donetsk.

The offer from the NHL obviously should be one-way?

Yes, otherwise why should I decide to go over the ocean under rule that in case of playing in farm-club I would receive less payment when at the same time I can play in a good league KHL and earn good money?

Will your son Martin be a hockey player?

He is already six and he participates in our camps. Martin likes football. I used to dream about car things. Maybe I will put him on go-kart racing. One of my dreams will come true on the 5th of July when I will participate in rally for the first time. My debut will be as coxswain for Vicars Vasaraudzis.

This sounds quite serious! Vasaraudzis is one of the best Latvian rally drivers…

Yes, but at the same time we acknowledge that within several months the hockey season will start for me. Therefore we will not be going for high results, but as a safety car. If I participated in competition and we would be some fifteen seconds behind before last speedways, we all know that Ivars couldn’t drive peacefully (laughing). We train each week and day by day I start master coxswain duties. Auto-racing is my big hobby. This summer together with my father for the first time we went to see Formula racing in Barcelona. Since childhood I have followed activities at F1. But everything looks much more impressive when you are there.

This summer you have been preparing for the season also at physiotherapist Raivis Arsausks?

Firstly about necessity to perform weight exercises I heard from Arturs Irbe. He brought us- all hockey players to Ivars Cakurs. Afterwards Ivars left to Norway and we had to seek for other possibilities. Then Rodrigo Lavins suggested approaching Raivis. Already for the third summer I start to prepare for season with Raivis and I really feel much better when I finally start my seasonal trainings at the weight room.

Will you play at the world championship in Prague next spring?

I have always wanted to play in National team. Hopefully my health conditions will be good. Ted has given hope for our team and really important fact is also that there is a severe competition for place in the national team. I hope that our generation will reach the record and will get ranking above 7th place in the world championship.

Resources: Diena

Author: Maris Zembergs

Photo: Aivars Liepins, Dienas mediji