Red Deer Rebels center Mikhail Yakubov was selected 10th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. This is his first year in North America. He previously played for Lada Togiatti in Russia.
Hockey’s Future: What were your thoughts about being drafted by such a classic team like Chicago?
Mikhail Yakubov: I was just happy to be selected, it really didn’t matter which team.
HF: Many Russians stay at home in Russia and play before trying to crack an NHL roster, why did you come over to North America?
MY: I signed with Chicago and they sent me to Red Deer, they felt I would get more playing time.
HF: How so enjoy playing in Red Deer?
MY: It’s been a lot of fun, the team is good and I get to play a lot. The long road trips are tough though.
HF: Being that this is your first season in North America, how has the lifestyle adjustment affected you?
MY: It’s been a very easy transition. The lifestyle in Canada is a little different than Russia but not that much.
HF: What do you feel the strongest/weakest parts of your game are?
MY: I’m not really sure. I’m always trying to improve both offensively and defensively.
HF: The Blackhawks never even interviewed you prior yo the Draft because they didn’t think you would be there at Number 10, were you surprised they selected you?
MY: I didn’t try to guess who would take me. I just figured I would go in the first round and that’s what happened.
HF: You had the honor of playing in two World Junior Championships, what was that like?
MY: It was fun, but I didn’t get a lot of ice time.
HF: Who taught you the most about hockey?
MY: Certainly my dad and my first coach.
HF: Who has helped make your first year in North America a smooth transition?
MY: I live with one of my teammates, Doug Lynch, and he has really helped my adjustment. I’m still learning the language but it’s getting easier.
Name: Mikhail Yakubov
Birthplace: Barnaul, Russia
Current Residence: Red Deer, Alberta
Idol Growing Up: Sergei Fedorov
Most Memorable Hockey Moment: Being Drafted By Chicago