Anton Belov signed a four year contract in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg. To some it was an unexpected move. For others, Belov could never fulfill the promise that the one-time best KHL defenseman would become a good player for the Edmonton Oilers.
Belov joined the Russian national team in Novogorsk, near Moscow, to get ready for the IIHF World Championships that will take place in Minsk, Belarus beginning May 9. He was asked about his departure from the NHL by Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov, who shared the conversation with us.
Why did this move happen? You secured a spot on Edmonton’s roster, played a lot there, and then you decided to come back.
“There is no one reason that made it an abrupt change. It all was building up during the season, especially more so after the Olympics. And the hire of coach Bykov (by SKA) was also an influence. The other point is that I could have re-signed with Edmonton, but I didn’t want to stay with that coach [Dallas Eakins]…”
You were offered a contract?
“Yes… And another point is that not to re-sign with Edmonton means having to wait until July 1. And going to the World Championships I wanted to be under contract. Coming back to Russia was the only way out.”
Were you not given a chance to showcase yourself?
“I will not comment on that… Why talk about what happened in the past? I am happy and am proud that I spent a full season in the NHL on a two way contract where I could have been sent to the AHL any time. It is certain that I gained a lot, and it is a huge experience for me to grow further as a player.”