November 17, 2009
His Russian agent said the following this morning to SovSport:
"[Blue Jackets Coach Ken] Hitchcock sticks to defensive hockey, and Nikita prefers more of an offensive game. It is a conflict of interest. Filatov is unhappy that he gets very little ice time."
I reached Nikita this afternoon asking for comments on the story that he was leaving for CSKA Moscow of the KHL, which has since been confirmed by the Columbus Dispatch and the team. Here's what he had to say:
Q. When did you start talking to the CBJ management about going back to Russia?
FILATOV: It was a few days ago. At the end of last week I told them that I want to come back.
When did you tell your agent of your plans?
I told him after about four games into the season. He told me that I shouldn't rush, and that I should wait to play in at least 10 games. As he told me, this is because anything could happen and change.
What are the main reasons of your decision?
There is only one reason. I think this is better for my development to go back and play in Russia. There are more opportunities there to develop as a player and to really compete. At least at this time. CSKA can give me more right now than Columbus, to whom I am thankful. And all I need is to get playing time.
(UPDATE: Filatov responds to some comments by his GM at the end of the post.)
What did the club management tell you when you told them of your decision and your reasons for it?
They told me that they completely share my point of view. They also told me that in the current situation it is actually better for me to go back.
So, they think that it is better to play in the KHL and not the AHL?
There was no talk about the AHL whatsoever. It means that they probably understand that the only correct option for me is to play in the KHL.
The Columbus Dispatch wrote that there was at least one player who asked you to think twice before making a decision.
As far as I know, the Dispatch doesn't have the concrete information. The entire report is based on rumors. That's why I don't think that I should comment on that. I actually discussed it with a lot of guys. And no one told me that I shouldn't leave. Not one of them. Actually, it was quite the opposite. They supported me and told me that I was making the right decision.
Your loan is valid for just one year?
The loan agreement is for half a year. That means it's until the end of the season. And then we'll see.
Did you consider playing 2-3 years in Russia and then come back after having a lot of experience playing under your belt?
I haven't thought about what's going to happen after this season at all yet. I don't like to guess.
You have been a healthy scratch a lot lately. Do you think your style of hockey doesn't fit into Hitchcock's system? Maybe he doesn't see you in his system?
No, I don't think so. He just has his opinion of hockey and of me as a player.
Do you regret Columbus drafted you?
No, not at all. I don't have any regrets. I like everything here - the city, I have a lot of friends here. And of course I like the organization. They are all great guys.
Do you still think you will make it in the NHL with Columbus?
Of course! I don't even doubt that everything will be alright. I actually think that I have already made it because I started the season here. And, even it was very little, but I still played. It's just, of course, I wanted to spend more time on the ice. That's what I will try to achieve next season.
What did the coach and the GM tell you before you left?
They wished me luck and told me that they count on seeing me in camp next year.
UPDATE: Here are a few more words with Filatov after the team responded to the news.
The Blue Jackets GM told the Columbus Dispatch "It's just not happening as soon as we'd hoped." What can you say about that?
I think that I didn't really have a chance. I scored two goals even though I didn't play more than 8 minutes both times. We got scored against two times [when I was on the ice] even though our team is 28th in the league in goals conceded. And I also played with guys on the fourth line all the time. The game is very different. So, what can we talk about?
Why do you think you didn't get a chance to play more and on different lines?
I don't even know. Probably Hitchcock just didn't trust me.
Tell me, why didn't you request a trade and decided to go to the KHL?
I thought this would be the right thing to do. First of all, for me. And also as a matter of respect to Columbus as an organization.