Last season, Aleksey Byvaltsev became Traktor’s second scorer, having had the most productive regular season since his match on Amur: the forward scored 39 (15 + 24) points in the 2022/2023 championship without problems. True, it all ended in the regular season – the Chelyabinsk team could not make it to the playoffs, and Alexei himself soon switched from one Ural team to another and went to Avtomobilist.
In an interview with the Championship correspondent, the newcomer from Yekaterinburg told what prompted him to join Nikolai Zavarukhin’s wards, explained why he decided to stay in the Eastern Conference, and also defended Traktor’s head coach Anvar Gatiyatulin.
“I didn’t pay attention to the fact that I regularly scored points”
– How do you assess the preseason, how functionally are you prepared for the season, what else do you need to work on? – Good preparation, everything is planned, as planned. The main thing is that we are ready on September 2. We seek teamwork, in general everything is good.
– Why did Avtomobilist fail in the first half of the match against SKA in the Puchkov Cup? – The goals rained down on us, we fell apart a bit. When we conceded two goals quickly, we had to calm down. We overreacted and missed another one. After the break they began to play better.
– The team failed three times in the last five minutes of the match with Salavat. “It was a completely different match. We had the initiative, we played well, but at some point we lacked concentration. You had to play correctly, change the time, slow down the pace of the game. So it didn’t work. Better that it happens during the preseason tournaments than in the championship.
– Does the coach get hard for this type of failure even in preseason? – Everything the coach tells us is to the point. Sometimes it is necessary to speak a little rudely so that the guys understand that you should not relax.
— You are one of the 18 players who played all 68 games last season. How is he physically? – Everything’s fine. More games, less practice.
– In December you managed to play eight games in a row with effective actions, which had not happened since the match in Amur. – I did not pay attention to the fact that I regularly scored points. There was another task – to win all the matches. We did everything we could to get to the playoffs. That point was probably not enough when Avtomobilist rallied 0.01 seconds before the end of the match.
An unrealistic salvation 16 thousandths of a second before the siren and the hopelessness of Salavat. Results of the day KHL
“Tractor failed to come together completely”
— The absence of the “Tractor” in the playoffs: a failure? – Yes, sure. Especially after the bronze medal season. It’s hard to say anything. From the beginning it did not start very well. They could not rectify the situation, although there were enough matches. Everyone understood that little by little they were playing better, but the failures persisted.
How was this failure perceived by the team? – Everything was fine, but, apparently, the team did not manage to fully unite. Many leaders left Traktor before the previous season and we were unable to replace them.
– On the one hand, the season turned out to be successful for you personally, you showed a good game. On the other hand, this was still not enough to make it to the playoffs. – You always want to fight for the Cup, the playoffs are a completely different game, another intensity. But what to do, there are 30 people in the team, you are not alone there. You cannot influence everything that happens in it. When the team is united, everyone works, then there should be no problems. If we knew why everything is going wrong with us, we would stop it immediately. But when you don’t know what the reason is, that’s a problem. You don’t know where to start, what to delve into.
Alexey Byvaltsev as part of Traktor
Photo: Yuri Kuzmin, photo.khl.ru
– Are you personally satisfied with your game? – In principle yes, I had a normal season. You could play better somewhere, perfection has no limits.
– Did your absence in the playoffs affect your departure from Traktor? No, there are other reasons. It takes a long time to dig into this, I really don’t want to. Avtomobilist made a good offer and I accepted.
– How much better was Avtomobilist’s offer than Traktor’s? – The differences are small. Only negotiations with Traktor dragged on for a long time. Like I said, I don’t want to delve into it, it’s important for me to get used to Avtomobilist as soon as possible and play well.
“I will rate the period in Traktor at four with less”
– Evaluate your three-year stay in Traktor. – I joined the team after the season, when Traktor missed the playoffs. The first year we got there from fifth in the conference, but we lost in the first round. The second season was wonderful, they took the bronze. The third is a failure. I’ll give it a four out of less.
– Wasn’t it surprising that there were no personnel changes at Traktor? – Which is it?
– Dismissal of Anvar Gatiyatulin. I don’t think they should fire him. With him, the team twice won bronze. Yes, there are situations like last season. For obvious reasons, many leaders left and could not find a replacement. There was a difficult situation, everything was ruined. After a disastrous season, jumping to conclusions is a mistake.
Alexey Volkov takes the same position:
Traktor General Manager – Absolutely trust Gatiyatulin, he is a very strong trainer
– Many note the lack of emotion from Anvar Rafailovich. – He can yell, he just doesn’t show his mind in the game. Nobody knows how it happens in the locker room. Come listen to it (laughs).
– What factors convinced you to switch to Avtomobilist? – We speak with Nikolai Nikolaevich Zavarukhin. I understood what he wants from me. In this, perhaps, everything.
– At the same time, many clubs requested your help. Why did you choose Yekaterinburg? – In financial terms, all proposals were approximately equal. I did not ask for any supernatural salary. The city was taken into account: I have a small child and I have to play for the family. In Yekaterinburg there is everything for comfort, my son was born there, the family likes everything. This is a great advantage.
– You could be in Avtomobilist even before Traktor. – Yes, there was such a story, but there was a little disagreement. Then the leaders of the clubs did not resolve the issue.
“I prefer to be in the Urals”
– Your agent said you wanted to stay and play in the East. What is this desire for? “Honestly, I didn’t think of that. I’m not a fan of Moscow, I was at SKA, but where else to go? I myself am from Magnitogorsk, I prefer to be in the Urals. There is also Kunlun, but they didn’t call me from there (laughs).
— What do you think of the competition at Avtomobilist? Surely they understood that they would only be the third center back after Da Costa and Valk. – I’ve been like this everywhere. When I moved to Traktor, Sedlak and Tkachev were there, in St. Petersburg, too, everything was full of hubs. Unless there was not so much competition on Vityaz and Amur.
– But now you still went to the state of the first center, that role will not exist in “Auto”. “Where would I be wrong now?” Stay on Traktor? Negotiations dragged on. If you want to win something with the team, then everywhere there will be strong competition in the center – CSKA, SKA, Dynamo. It is that in the “Vanguard” lately it was not like that.
Now in the “Vanguard” like this:
“Thank God Spooner and Nikolishin showed up.” Kravets on Avangard’s offseason results
– You would be useful to your native metallurgist. – I spoke with him, but then it was not clear who would be the head coach.
– You just joined Avtomobilist, but you already received an alternate captain badge. “I think this is temporary.
– Her relationship with Oleg Li is being revived in Yekaterinburg. Waiting for magic? We wait (smiles). We also communicated well, we always kept in touch. He was the first to find out about my transfer to Avtomobilist.
Alexey Byvaltsev and Oleg Li
“500 games, time flies”
– If you count the playoffs, your next point will be the 200th place in the KHL. In addition, you have 35 games left to play up to 500 league games. Can you imagine this during your debut? – Then I played in the Admiral, I did not think about anything like that. The main thing was to gain a foothold in the team, as in the first season in Khabarovsk. Now you are watching: 500 matches, time flies and that’s it. And that’s why I didn’t think about it. I didn’t know how it would turn out.
– Didn’t you set global goals then? – No. I just wanted to establish myself in the team and play hockey.
– Do you still have an emotional bond with Admiral as a team that started its way to the KHL? – Not to the “Admiral”, I only spent 10 games there. Rather, to the “Amur”.
– Under Zavarukhin, the Avtomobilist results are progressing. Is the dressing room already talking about ambitions for the next season? – Certainly. We need to set the highest goals and proceed to their implementation. If you don’t set goals, you won’t get results.
“When I hang my skates on a nail, I’ll see if there’s anything to be proud of”
— Did the game get faster after the introduction of the three second rule? Until I felt it. Now the defenders are not behind, but in front of the goal (laughs).
– As a central defender, do you feel more comfortable that now, when they play in the majority, the teams start the period or overtime in the attack zone? – That’s a good rule. You don’t waste time rolling if you win the faceoff. Even if there are between 20 and 30 seconds left, there is time to play and shoot.
How do you feel about the crossover playoffs? – This type of playoffs is better, everyone is fed up with the same thing. What is in the East, what is in the West. I want something new.
– In April you received the title of Master of Sports for bronze in the 2021/2022 season with Traktor. Is this something to be proud of for you? – I wouldn’t say that. Now there is such a bark, it is at home. It’s probably already in the dust (laughs).
– Are you proud of something? – Probably not yet. You need to improve your skills and abilities, to achieve greater results. When I hang my skates on a nail, I’ll see if there’s anything to be proud of.
– Last season, Traktor held a contest where fans were asked to sign their sticks. Why did the old one disappear and a new one appear? – The old man disappeared because he started playing with regular sticks. The special request didn’t fit, he didn’t bother then. To be honest, I didn’t watch the fan version. Perhaps the results of the competition were summed up, but without me.