The newest member of the Saskatoon Blades is looking forward to living in a new city and a new country.
Seventeen-year-old Russian defenceman Mark Rubinchik met local media Tuesday ahead of the start of Blades training camp.
“I’m really excited, the WHL is a great place to develop and I’m really happy to be in Saskatoon,” Rubinchik said, donning his new jersey for the first time.
One striking thing about the import from Moscow is his fluent English. Rubinchik spent part of his minor hockey career in North America, playing for Little Caesars in Michigan. It was there he learned about hockey in Canada and says playing here is his best shot at the NHL.
“(For) any player in Russia the only thing you know is that junior league in Canada is where you get prepared to enter the draft.”
One example of that comes from a fellow European defenseman in the Blades locker room. Libor Hajek was selected in the second round of the recent NHL Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Libor came here for the WHL and it was a good role for him, he really developed as a player and that’s what I wish for myself.”
Rubinchik signed with the Blades fresh off a bronze medal performance at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament. Serving as an assistant captain he tallied three assists from the point. There was a bit of added pressure attached to the leadership role; his stepfather is one of the coaches for the Russian team.
“A lot of people will say I’m there because I’m his son and I have to prove that I am a really good player.”
It won’t be long before the team’s top prospect hits the ice. Blades players report to camp Wednesday and on-ice sessions begin Thursday.