SHL Digest: Today we’re talking to a player who’s on his way to a breakout season, Misha Petronov of the New York Night. Misha, thanks for speaking with us.
Misha Petronov: Thank you. I must be having a good season if you are speaking to me.
SHLD: You certainly are! You’ve always been a steady and solid performer, but you’ve never scored more than 14 goals in a season. But here we are, only a quarter of the way into the season, and you’ve already scored 11! How have you reinvented yourself at age 27?
MP: Reinvented? That is a big word! I think is better to say I got better. I spent the offseason getting my best shape.
SHLD: You worked on getting in shape?
MP: Yes, right. I felt that if I got in my best shape, I could be a better player. So that’s what I did.
SHLD: What sort of exercise program did you follow?
MP: This might sound silly. But in my family, we have many ballet dancers. So I practiced ballet!
SHLD: Ballet! That’s a pretty unusual fitness regimen for a hockey player.
MP: When my teammates heard that, they made much fun of me. But it really makes sense. To be good at ballet, you must be both strong and flexible. Both of those things are good for hockey. So I work like a ballerina!
SHLD: Interesting! So, other than your ballet training, are there any other factors that have contributed to your success?
MP: I must give thanks to Coach [Nick] Foster also. He believes that too often, we have waited for our top line to deliver the goals, and he wants the rest of us involved. So he went to guys like me, Trainwreck [Ivan Trujwirnek], and Cat [Sylvester Catarino], and told us: “I want you to be aggressive. I want to give you more minutes, but you must earn them with strong and aggressive play.” And he is good for his word. As we have played better, he has given us minutes. It makes us a more balanced and stronger team.
SHLD: When you signed with the Night in free agency before last season [3 years, $2.7 million], a lot of critics said that you weren’t worth that kind of money. Do you feel pressure to live up to your contract?
MP: Pressure, yes, but good pressure. It gives me fire, to say, “They are paying me a lot of money, so I must work hard to earn it.” And I do.
SHLD: If you can keep up this pace, you’ll be a bargain! Before signing with New York, you spent two seasons with Anchorage, where you won a title in 2015. How different was it with the Igloos as opposed to with the Night?
MP: Very different! Anchorage is cold and small and far away, almost felt like I was still in Russia. (laughs) New York is much bigger, more entertaining, tougher. All the songs are true. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I had a good time in Anchorage, and I liked my teammates. But I also have much fun here.
SHLD: What’s your favorite thing in the Big Apple?
MP: I love the Bronx Zoo! Other guys like the theater or the clubs or the restaurants, but I am very fond of animals. Almost any time when I am in New York and not at practice or a game, I go to the zoo.
SHLD: Really? What’s your favorite animal?
MP: I like the giraffe. It is such a crazy-looking animal with such a long neck. If my neck were this long, I would fall over. But the giraffe is graceful and beautiful. It is amazing!
SHLD: Well, thank you for a very interesting interview, Misha. Best of luck the rest of the season!
MP: Thank you. It is fun to be interviewed!