One of the most reliable defenders of the KHL, Mikhail Pashnin, changed Magnitogorsk to SKA in the offseason. The “Championship” talked to him during the Sochi Hockey Open 2022 about the reasons for the transition, the difficult pre-season of Roman Rotenberg, working with the great Sergei Zubov, the captaincy of 20-year-old Marat Khusnutdinov and much more.

Mikhail Pashnin

Mikhail Pashnin

“I haven’t been driven this hard in preseason in a long time”

How is the preparation for the season going? How do you rate your current form?
“Everything is going well, according to plan. Towns, races, we use everything that is in the arsenal, we lay the base, we get game practice at the tournament. I won’t evaluate the form now, especially my own, let others do it. We are preparing, the main thing is to gain a base so that we have enough strength for the whole season.

– You are already a very experienced player and have gone through more than one pre-season training. Rotenberg surprised in Novogorsk with something, how difficult were his studies?
– I wasn’t surprised, but they haven’t driven me so hard in the preseason for a long time (laughs). We used all the good, largely forgotten exercises. Trained well. Now they let us go, I feel that there are forces. We did a good job, I think the real result will come.

– In general, at the age of 33, can there be something new in pre-season training, or is it already an absolutely routine process for you, repeating year after year, and there simply cannot be any surprises here?
– Years go by, we are not getting younger, but experience also does not disappear. But I have been watching myself for a long time, I think I would not have been in the top team at 33.

— So the most age for a defender.
— Yes, the heyday.

Roman Rotenberg

Roman Rotenberg

“Rothenberg is a hockey fan. He has been in hockey for so many years, he did a lot for him.

– Describe Roman Borisovich as a coach.
– The most important thing is that he is a hockey fan, he really wants to win every match. Sports passion, the spirit of competition, all this is present in it. He tries to convey all this to us, demands and does the right thing. He has been in hockey for many years, has done a lot for him. In addition, he also has many experienced assistants.

– Are Zubov and Leshchev in charge of the defense, or is Roman Borisovich also actively involved in the process?
All are active. You go into the locker room – all the coaches communicate, come to a common denominator. It is clear that everyone is doing their own thing, someone is more on defense, someone is more on the attack, adjustments are made during the matches and the tournament, at meetings and Roman Borisovich explains, and the rest of the coaches.

– What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to work with such a legend, one of the best defenders in history, like Sergei Alexandrovich?
– Yes, who was also included in the Hall of Fame … Of course, this means a lot. I hope he will tell you a couple of his secrets. He demands a certain game from us, first explains what needs to be done, and then wants to see it from us in the game. When it turns out, he says – this is what I wanted from you. Then he introduces something new. Until he revealed all the secrets, I think he has a lot of chips. I hope he will tell the defenders everything, we will also use it.

Sergey Zubov

Sergey Zubov

– What is required of you in the team – everything is as usual – strength, reliability in defense, or is there something else?
– First of all, defense, to play to zero, but no one forbade scoring and doing everything else. All defenders are required to join in and help the attackers, just as attackers are required to help the defenders.

“It’s clear that I’m more experienced, but I don’t feel like a veteran by age”

– You played with Ozhiganov for CSKA, was it easy to find mutual understanding now?
– It’s easy to play with Igor, we agree in advance what we are doing. We found a common language easily, especially since we have known each other for a long time, we played in the MHL, there is no need to play together. Both played already, no problems.

– The defense is mostly experienced, but Nikishin stands out. How good is he?
– He’s done well, I think he will add more.

Did you join the team without any problems?
– Most of the guys are familiar, although there are young guys whom I hardly knew. But it is clear that the guys are good, the team sticks together.

– Apart from Ketov, you are one of the most “old men” in the team, if I may say so. Do you feel like a seasoned veteran compared to guys who are 10 or more years younger?
By the way, I don’t feel like a veteran. It is clear that I am more experienced, but I do not feel like a veteran by age. You can easily talk with young people on various topics, I don’t feel the difference in age.

– How did the team perceive the captaincy of Khusnutdinov?
– Well done guy, he shows himself as a leader on the ice, and in the locker room he can say something. We were told that the older guys should support him. We have no problem, why not? The absence of a patch means nothing. If you represent something from yourself, you don’t need any letter.

Marat Khusnutdinov

Marat Khusnutdinov

Photo: Yury Kuzmin,

“SKA has stepped up compared to last season. Gagarin Cup for strength “

– They wanted to keep you at Metallurg, there were probably other offers, but you chose SKA. Why?
– I have long wanted to play in St. Petersburg. Magnitogorsk also has a good organization and team. If there was something wrong, they would not have reached the final that year. A little bit, however, was not enough … But I wanted to play in St. Petersburg, so I chose St. Petersburg.

— Do you mean the city or the team?
– And the organization, and the city, and everything else. In St. Petersburg, there is always one task – to win the Cup, it is very interesting to me. If we talk about the city, then in 2020 we spent quarantine here, went out of town to Roschino with the whole family, we really liked it.

– If you look at your career, it is striking that over the past six years you have often begun to change clubs. SKA has already become your fourth team in this time period. Can you tell why this is happening?
– Such a hockey life – to change teams. I would not say that I changed many clubs. Played in all top teams. So it turns out, everywhere and the management is changing, both coaches and players.

— Did you part with Metallurg on a good note, without any misunderstandings?
– Yes, I part well with all the clubs, I work out my contract to the end. This has never been a problem.

The team has changed a lot in the offseason. Do you think it has remained at its level or maybe it has become stronger?
– SKA did a good selection, it can be seen and heard from interviews, from people from the press. The team is 100% stronger than last season. Young guys were already connected last year, they gained experience, they can no longer be called young. These are the main players. There are many players in the team, the competition is good. I think it will cheer everyone up.

– It is clear that there can be only one task – the Gagarin Cup. This SKA can do it?
– One hundred percent, everything is possible.

“It’s better to instill the hockey of the future than of the past.” Rotenberg – about SKA before the new season

– In terms of everyday life, they have already settled down – a school for children, is that all?
– It has long been settled, since the summer. First, I rented a house in Repino, my wife lived there for six months during pregnancy. Then I rented an apartment, and I live in it. The children have been enrolled in school, testing is coming soon, they will determine which class they will go to. One son has already started motocross. He likes.

– Not scary?
– While retracting classes, he is learning to handle equipment, drive, change gears. Nothing dangerous yet, but it will start soon.

– You said that the family loves Rome. In this regard, St. Petersburg is probably no less interesting city – architecture, streets, literature?
– 100%, cultural capital. So far, we haven’t really gone anywhere, but if there are weekends in the season, we’ll get out somewhere, there’s a lot to see in St. Petersburg.

– There will not be many days off in the season, 12 matches a month.
— Yes, I saw the schedule is tight. But it’s cool, it’s better to play than to train.

– So the pauses were not needed?
– For the national team, of course, they are needed, but how to prepare for the World Cup? Eurotour was needed to check the players. But since the situation has changed, pauses have been removed, matches have been added in the season – that’s great, we will play. There is no bad without good.

“Losing 3-1 is hard. Highly. And it’s even harder to remember

What was last season like for you personally? We started for health, then an injury, an operation, we returned, another injury.
– We started very well, the team went great in terms of the game and points. We recruited a lot of new players, in the first year it didn’t work out, until we huddled together, polished our game. And in the second year, everyone understood who was playing how, they gave out a good season. It’s a pity, of course, that we lost in the final…

It was a difficult season for me, but there are such things in the life of a hockey player. I hope this doesn’t happen again. And there was an injury, and a relapse, they hit the head in the playoffs. The most important thing is that now I am whole and healthy, I feel good, nothing worries me.

CSKA is the champion!  We made a super comeback in the KHL final and strangled Magnitogorsk in the decisive match
CSKA is the champion! We made a super comeback in the KHL final and strangled Magnitogorsk in the decisive match

— How to lose with 3-1? Everything was in your hands…
– It’s hard … Very. A heavy topic, especially reluctance to raise it.

What was the hardest defeat in your life?
– I lost to Ak Bars in the final with CSKA, but this, of course, was not 3-1. It’s hard, and remembering is even harder. But it gives motivation. So, somewhere we did something wrong, we need to sort out our mistakes and not repeat them.

– Do you have a tooth for CSKA now?
– I prepare for all opponents the same way. It’s interesting to play with good teams that have masters and good speed. It feels like a man’s hockey, I like it.

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