Sergey Krabu remembers.
In December, kicking the snowy Moscow mud with my feet, I remembered summer. Infernal heat, Sports.ru studio, podcast recording, in which, besides me and Artem Batrak, Sergey Shchenkov and Ildar Shiksatdarov also participated. Great guys who didn’t fly very high as hockey players, but retained an exceptional love for the game.
We talked about their childhood – training, jokes, brawls and an indispensable attribute of the New Year holidays: youth team with comments by Yuri Rozanov and Sergey Krabu.
I lived for 30 years in the province of varying degrees of deafness and was deprived of this happiness on the air (I never had an NTV Plus dish), but I got it retroactively. The rutracker has been explored to the very bottom, now I have a bunch of records from the MFM of different years – and those on which the Krabu / Rozanov duet worked are today heard as absolute classics.
Emotional, verbose, sensitive Rozanov and calm, concise, but with encyclopedic knowledge about the Krabu team – they mainly worked at a time when the MFM was not such an important tournament for the country; but he became so largely thanks to their voices.
“ And if we drive, Nikita? And if we put down the body, Nikita? And if we score, Nikita? – this is exactly the same classic as the legendary “Ilya, ILYA” !
I am sure: in the days when the MFM is going on, but somewhere on the periphery, as if not for us and definitely not about us, we all lack this atmosphere a little.
I contacted Sergey Krabu to somehow compensate for this gap and partly reproduce that atmosphere of a hockey holiday; He himself immediately said that he really misses her.
Below is a sincere conversation with one of the voices of our youth, youth, childhood. There – a duet with Rozanov, what is the MFM from the inside and stories about how Russia’s interest in the first tournament of the year began.
– How are you doing? Since 2016, you somehow disappeared from all radars.
– I was just offered another job, and I left television. Since then, I have been doing it – let it be translations.
– As far as I understand, your last MFM was in 2015.
– And what was the last match you worked on?
– Well, the final, of course, we played with the Canadians – we lost.
– I kind of looked – you did not comment on it.
– Denis [Kazansky] commented, but I was present at the match. I think I commented on something, but I don’t remember now.
– Apparently, due to the fact that you also worked as a correspondent, you didn’t have a clear division between where you commented and where you didn’t.
– Well, yes, NTV Plus had such a multi-station system – without a specific specialization, when you specifically work as a correspondent or editor. People were doing a little of everything. Yura Rozanov – mainly by commentary, but at one time he also did interviews. That is, everything was.
– Dima Fedorov said that the first MFM for NTV Plus was in 1997. How it was?
– I came to television only in 1996 and started working on a hockey program. Of course, I did not know all these nuances then. We made a program that aired on the big NTV and on NTV Plus. Covered various competitions – including the youth world championship. Dima was then the head of the program and offered me to go, which I was very happy about. Because I have always been interested in youth world championships.
On the other hand, why did he offer me this? (laughs) I just came and how long have I worked? It hasn’t been a year yet. This is, of course, a question for him. But I am very grateful to Dima for this.
– It turns out that you were interested in hockey even earlier?
– In general, I ended up in journalism by accident, by profession I am still a translator, not a journalist. First he worked on the radio, then the opportunity arose to get a job at NTV Plus.
I did not want to go to some kind of political broadcasting, I was absolutely fine with the fact that it would be a sports edition. In addition, I have always loved hockey, since childhood I was interested in it.
Do you remember the circumstances of that trip?
– Of course of course! We went together – me and cameraman Sergei Solovyov. There were no shows scheduled at the time. Mid-1990s, can you imagine what the situation is like. And then no one needed the youth world championships, they were practically not talked about. At best, they will write something in the newspapers, and even then – only results.
So I went there as a correspondent, filming the tournament and talking about it. Of course, the impression is very strong – one of the brightest at the youth world championships. We flew to Geneva, from there to Morges, it is nearby, a small town, relatively speaking – a Swiss village.
And now Sergey and I arrive by train – it’s already late. And that was… I think we arrived on the 24th. Catholic Christmas. And so we arrive in Morges, get off the train – and that’s it, silence. There is no one on the platform, everything is closed, everything is dark. In the houses, of course, some lights are burning, but it is not clear what to do. We, with our equipment, with a tripod, with a camera, with a bunch of camera stuff, with personal belongings, are standing on the platform. There is no one to even ask – where should we go? Where is the hotel? What’s happening? There is very little left before Christmas. Do not stand all night on the platform – let’s go to the city.
And it’s empty. Nobody at all, literally. We walked and walked – I don’t remember how much, for half an hour exactly, trying to find at least someone to just ask. We thought maybe we could at least find a police station – no, nothing like that. Not to mention taxis.
And we see – some kind of shadow flickered. Finally! We run to this shadow – and who would you think? The first person we met in this city was the outfitter of the Russian national team! With his help, we found a hotel.
We had a national team in which Alexey Morozov, Oleg Kvasha, Denis Khlopotnov, Sergey Samsonov played. Canadians have Thornton, Danny Brier. A good team has assembled.
– And Rozanov was not there?
– No, no, just me and the operator. We went to film what is happening around the tournament, we did not film the matches. But then again, I was in Switzerland, perhaps in Moscow, and they decided to show something, but I don’t remember that.
– Then at what tournament did you work together for the first time?
– You know, due to the fact that we were all multi-machine operators, we crossed paths in many places, I can’t even say. It was definitely not the youth world championship.
I’m afraid to make a mistake, but it seems that for the first time we worked together as commentators at the Romazan tournament in Magnitogorsk. Yura has always been a supporter of actively involving everyone in the comments, and was ready to try some innovations.
For the first time, we worked in such a way that he commented from above, and I from below. He, as they say, drove the puck upstairs, and I sang something along with him near the ice and asked questions during breaks.
At the same time, it was generally customary to comment alone, but here we tried together. In my opinion, it was on the “Magnitogorsk”.
– And what MFM did you go together for the first time?
“Hmm, good question. In Skellefteå, at the turn of the century, to Sweden. Also, in my opinion, the broadcasts were not planned, and we went to shoot exactly the entourage, to make a specialized program – stories, interviews, recorded some stand-ups, worked in the frame and sent here.
But since our team performed very well – in my opinion, it was already the semi-finals, when the Canadians came out – and it seems that Moscow decided: well, ours are playing with the Canadians, how not to show.
And then, I remember, Valentin Kozin, the head of our delegation from the FHR, we twisted his arms so that he would vouch for the TV channel (laughs) that it would all be paid for. He resisted for a long time, but then he still could not resist (laughs). And so we showed the semi-final – in my opinion, Dima Fedorov commented on it.
– I know this story just from him – he, however, said that you did not comment from the spot for reasons unknown to him. But it turns out that the MFM was not shown in principle.
– You see, on the one hand, of course, I want to show. Because we love hockey, we are interested. For me, the World Youth Championship is the main competition in general in all sports.
But what is broadcasting? You need to buy the rights, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then organize each broadcast, deliver the signal. Can you imagine how many matches? And the broadcast also costs more than five kopecks – the bill goes to tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, just the organization of one broadcast. And this is a tournament that is not the main one in the sports lineup, on the calendar of the year. Well, in any case, he didn’t appear then, I hope, after all, now his popularity and significance has grown.
But then he wasn’t like that. And what about leadership? Spending that kind of money on a tournament that was of little interest to anyone? If you remember the nineties, what was hockey then?
It was unpleasant to walk around and beg: “Let’s show, let’s show, because it’s interesting.” But the leadership is understandable.
– Then Artem Chubarov said – our MFM was not shown, because they did not believe in us. And in fact, in principle, then they were not shown.
– Well, yes. And, of course, the main reason is money.
– Well, since 2000, you usually did not miss the MFM, and it became your tournament?
Well, we tried not to miss it. But what does “your tournament” mean? We were not a pair of Crab-Rozanov. No. They just appointed commentators there. It is a great honor to work with Yura, first of all, as a person. I admire his professional qualities, his talent, of course, but the main thing for me is that he was a wonderful person. It’s a shame to say “was”.
Nevertheless, we were appointed. He willingly supported my proposals that the World Youth Championship should be shown, and if it was necessary to go to the authorities to try to persuade him, he was always ready. He, in my opinion, was also interested, and so we went with him.
But this does not mean that it is only ours, and no one else. And Dima Fedorov went, and Denis Kazansky. By the way, about superstitions – Denis was not forgiven when he went in 2010, and our team lost.
– Yes, yes, he did say it. He returned, and they told him – well, what did you do there at all?
Well, it’s a joke, of course. Denis did his best to win. And on trips – Yura went to Halifax alone, Dima Fedorov was in Helsinki in 2004, in 2005 Yura was alone again in Grand Forks, we already went to Vancouver together, to Leksand, to Pardubice and Liberec, to Ottawa – everywhere together. Reijina, Saskatoon is Denis Kazansky. Then Buffalo.
Since 2006, from Vancouver, Yura and I have traveled together. Somewhere around 2012. It was all decided the day before – it was not known in advance that there would be a World Youth Championship, we show it, and Rozanov and Krabu will definitely comment on it. No one knew if we would show, if we could fit in on the money. It was decided just the day before. We hoped, prepared, but did not know for sure.
And sometimes, a few days before the tournament, you find out that everything, the problems are solved, you are going. Okay, so let’s go.
– As far as I understand, it was the same with the MFM on Match TV.
– Of course. The channel has a budget that needs to be met. There are tournaments that are obligatory for showing – it is clear that any channel will show the Olympics, the World Cup. Then they look at the priorities.
The Youth World Cup, with all its advantages, cannot be compared with the Olympics and the World Cup. Channels are watching: there is an opportunity – we will show it. No – alas.
– In the 2010s, it was like this: I don’t celebrate the New Year itself, but I work. And I meet with friends on January 1 – because there are no games. How did you celebrate the New Year all this time?
– Yes, in general, no way. If he traveled alone, then just went to bed. With Yura, probably, we had the most memorable trip to Sweden, to Skellefteå, just at the turn of the century – then we sat down and celebrated with him, raised a glass of champagne, and then also went to bed, because the next day to go.
We dangled from Skellefteo to Umeå, there were two cities. And it’s winter, the north of Sweden, can you imagine what it’s like to drive a car back and forth. That’s another gift, you won’t get too far.
And the rest – work and work. I spent all my time in stadiums. I liked this atmosphere – when else can you come to the stadium, look into the locker rooms, watch, chat with people? No other competition will give such an opportunity.
And, by and large, there is nothing to do. Usually the MFM was held in small towns, which can be walked from one border to another in an hour. And then – the holidays, everything is closed, you can’t go anywhere.
Of course, there were also large cities – Ottawa, Buffalo. But Buffalo, of course, is another place. I remember there was a scandal, we talked about it with Yura on the air. One of the Canadians called Buffalo a ghost town. And it’s really not very pleasant there – the city center is not exactly dead, but so abandoned. Shops are boarded up with plywood sheets … In general, it did not make the most pleasant impression. In America, everything is different, people live on the periphery, no one lives in the center.
And this Canadian came from the Americans – and where did you come from, the smartest, or what?
So even in Buffalo you can’t really take a walk. And that’s not the point – I just enjoyed being at the stadium.
– What other places do you remember? I understand about Buffalo.
– (laughs) Well, I liked Buffalo, a normal city. I have great respect for the state of New York, in which it is located, I studied in this state when I was a student, went there on an exchange. Including stopped by in Buffalo. Then I came as a correspondent to Maxim Afinogenov when he played for the Sabers. So I have nothing against Buffalo.
I also liked it in the Czech Republic, when the World Cup was in Pardubice and Liberec. Especially the country hotel where we stayed – our team also settled in it. It is built in such a rustic style. Very beautiful place, I still remember it.
When the World Cup was in Vancouver, we drove through the Rocky Mountains. Matches were still in Kelowna and Kemloops, and this is on the other side of the mountains. It was necessary to dangle through these passes by car. Places of stunning beauty. You just come back late, already at night. Once we got into the fog, about five meters – and nothing was visible. There were such roller coasters – on the one hand a cliff, on the other a rock. Feelings are still the same.
– You traveled not only as a commentator, but also as a correspondent. How was your typical work day?
– If you work as a correspondent – you come with a cameraman, shoot what you need, then edit it – we had a portable editing table. You go to … you need to call it something so that it is now clear – a special room from where you can transmit video via satellite to Moscow. This is quite hemorrhoids, a lot of all sorts of technical issues, in this sense, television is much more complicated than radio. He sat down on the radio, told everything on the phone, and excellent.
And here, of course, there are many problems. Once we were distilling some material, it went very slowly, and a huge queue formed behind us, there were dissatisfied colleagues from other countries.
It’s easier to comment – you know that there is a match in the evening, and you have almost free all day. You can get ready – watch the training, find out the news, listen to gossip. I hung out here, there, talked with colleagues – and already dug up something.
– As a result of such communication, Yuri Albertovich struck up a friendship with Gord Miller, probably.
– I mostly talked with him (laughs). Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire. We met with them … I’m even afraid to say when. In my opinion, I alone began to communicate with them, and then Yura joined us.
They, of course, tried to find out some news about our team. How to pronounce the name Dvurechensky, for example. Gord Miller had very big problems with this – no matter how much I fought, trying to explain that he was Dvurechensky, and not in some other way, he did not succeed.
You look for information, then you take it from the organizers – lineups, applications, statistics. And you go upstairs. Just so you understand – basically, in Canada, all commentator positions are under the ceiling. This is where you can be put in the stands. And in Canada, this is considered not entirely reasonable, because if you are put on the podium, then the organizers lose money. They can sell tickets for these places.
Therefore, all commentators – there are no exceptions, in the NHL this is absolutely certain – they are driven to the very, very ceiling. Sometimes you even sit above the platform. You can just as well watch the match from Moscow – how Buffalo plays with Washington. Very far, very high.
Of course, everything is well organized – there are TVs, you can watch all the reruns. Recently, cubes with HD images have begun to appear, so sometimes it’s not even clear where it’s better to look, at the site or at the cube.
The same is true for the MFM. You go upstairs, and writing journalists sit there, they have a separate row, and commentators have their own booths. Sitting and tapping with Gord Miller. Or with the Swedish brigade, we also have good relations with them. They came all the time and there was a girl among them – this has now become the norm, and then she was the only one at the MFM.
In Europe, of course, you are already sitting in the stands. But there are some peculiarities. At the World Championships in Switzerland – the first one I came to – there were 400 people at the matches. Of these, 399 are scouts, relatives and people related to the organization of the tournament. It is clear that at that time in Europe no one really went and watched the MFM games. Now this is already changing. But 400 people at the match – what is it?
In Canada, things are different. I still remember – December 31, five hours before the New Year. I understand that this is not Christmas for North Americans, but they celebrate it nonetheless.
In my opinion, the Finns played with the Swiss. The stadium is packed. It was in Vancouver – a big NHL stadium for twenty thousand. Bitcoin. Watch how Finland and Switzerland play. Can you imagine that people would come to such a match? On New Year’s Eve.
(In fact, it was like this: at the game Finland – Switzerland on December 31, 2005 there were 8335 spectators, and it was held at the old Canucks arena Pacific Coliseum for 16150 spectators. That is, the arena was only half full. This does not negate the fact the fact that for a match without the participation of the hosts this is an absolutely fantastic figure – and Sergey’s emotion is absolutely understandable and justified. And it was 17 years ago (a nightmare), and the details were forgotten – Sports.ru)
I saw a blind man during the break, he was with a guide. I couldn’t even resist: “Why, how, you don’t see anything?” He says: “I just came to feel the atmosphere.” Well, it’s really kind of crazy.
At the end of the broadcast, when our team played, I usually had to leave Yura alone to bring the match to victory or defeat. I walked downstairs where we had a cameraman to interview.
– During matches, there was always a feeling that you have a slightly closer connection with the team than is usually the case at other tournaments.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself – yes. Definitely. And it started with my first World Championship, in Switzerland.
I don’t even know what the World Youth Championship can be compared to. The big World Cup is also an event – a lot of people, communication. But the teams and the hockey world itself seem to be closed. Getting inside is almost impossible. Even if you have good friends in the team, you still won’t get in, they won’t let you in.
The World Youth Championship is such a party of friends, comrades with the same interests. The team and players can be met on the street. I remember that in Walrus after a game I wanted to go to the locker room. Usually they let you in, but then some guards got caught – “No, we won’t let you in.” Oleg Kvasha saw this and almost got into a fight: “These are ours! Let them come in! – and pushes them away.
Another case. I was at the training of our team. Not knowing about all these superstitions, he picked up a stick. The training was almost over, I thought – well, let me also try to throw the puck. A player drives up, I won’t say his last name: “Taking a club is a bad omen.”
I say: “Listen, I’m sorry.” And I don’t know what else I should do – spit, knock on something? He put the club in place.
On the evening of the same day, this player scored. The next day, I’m sitting in training again, he drives up with a stick, says – hold it.
Like this. Not that you’re on the team, but very close to it.
– This is exactly what was heard in your reports. Why matches of the same Buffalo-2011 are watched today – you are not just commenting on what is happening on the ice and not even just rooting for ours. And there is some kind of warmth, immersion in the life of the team.
Yes, immersion is the right word. And after that, throw stones at the team, even if it loses, the hand does not rise. You see that the guys really give themselves completely, they do everything they can. It turns out – it doesn’t work, that’s another question. Which one of us is perfect? Everyone has problems. It’s the same with them.
You see how they try, that this is an important event for them. No one is going to play carelessly – what is the difference between the tournament and the adult world championship, where there is more calculation: maybe it’s worth giving everything, but here it’s not worth it. And at the MFM they all definitely fight.
And how else can you treat them when you walk in the room under the stands, towards you Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Listen, just call me Kuzya.”
– But in this dive, were all the teams the same for you? Or now, already considering the entire distance, can you single out some warmer ones?
No, it’s probably all the same. They are all ours. Well, how? You look after them, you will find out – they all become your relatives.
– You have worked at many tournaments and several crazy ones – Ottawa-2009, Buffalo-2011, Calgary-2012. Which one do you remember the most?
– Well, if the World Cup, which I immediately remember, I will say that the first. That empty train station in Morges.
Oddly enough, I cannot say that Buffalo is the main tournament for me. Of course, victory is nice, but for me, the atmosphere of the MFM is more important. And at all tournaments there was something special.
I will never forget the team that played in Vancouver, this is 2006. Radulov, Malkin – and for the first time they got to this healthy, NHL stadium where the Canucks play. We left the room under the stands – and the whole team had eyes for five kopecks. One of the coaches says something to them, and in response to him: “Coach, wait, let me see.” Well, how can you forget that?
– What, in your opinion, makes the MFM a special tournament?
“I have always been interested in hockey. I did not play professionally, at best as an amateur, I don’t know how much this can be called a game. When I first started and worked on the radio, I came to the authorities and asked to be sent to cover the MFM, which was then held in Moscow. It was… damn it, I don’t even remember now.
– Oh, I looked, it’s 1988.
Yes, late eighties. I worked in broadcasting and came to speak with Canadians. If I’m not mistaken, Fleury played for them. I go into the room – and it’s smoky! The athletes! Fine?
I was initially interested. And when I also got to this tournament, the interest was superimposed on the impressions. That this is such a close-knit party, in a good way.
So for me, the MFM is an opportunity not only to watch good hockey, because the guys are already at the age when they know how to play. But their eyes are also burning, they are ready to hurt themselves, fight, forgetting about everything for the sake of victory. They don’t have that approach to hockey yet, with an adding machine.
And the atmosphere. When you are very close to the team and to the whole tournament in general, it creates a special atmosphere. Plus New Years. Fortunately, my family was understanding and tolerated my absence – I was absent almost every New Year. For this I am very grateful.
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