One of the KHL’s best defenders, Kevin Dallman of Canada, says it was the European-style rink that helped him to achieve his potential after his move to Kazakh side, Barys Astana.
The 30-year-old defenseman captains the Kazakh team and his track record in scoring goals and points easily beat many forwards.
He was part of all three KHL All-Star games and will play his fourth at the end of January, 2012.
Having joined the Kazakh side in 2008, Dallman was quick to establish his name in the league.
The Canadian’s 28 goals and 30 assists in his debut season broke the Soviet and Russian hockey record of scoring from his position and brought him the KHL’s best defenseman award.
“After my first year – I didn’t have a contract then – a few teams reached out to my agents and to Barys and tried to get me to leave the club,” Dallman told RT. “But the year I had there and the friendships that grew within the team and the management made it a tough decision, and I couldn’t leave. They named me captain. Everything went well, fit well, and it was comfortable and I really enjoyed it here. Now my three year deal is up after this season, so we just have to wait and see how the season goes. But I’d like to stay here if I could.”
Moving to the capital of Kazakhstan was like a leap in the dark and was a tough decision to make for Dallman and his family.
However, it didn’t take them long to find out what Astana really looked like. The city was named the best in the CIS by the International Assembly of capitals and cities in 2011.
“I think one of the biggest things – and most North Americans will agree with me – is that when you hear ‘Russia’ or ‘Kazakhstan’, you hear horror stories,” he said. “Like it’s really rough, mean, tough and when I got over here I saw that it’s nothing like that, everybody tries to help you and it’s all welcoming. It is really modern, really like back home. It was easy to adjust. And I just talked to Stace on the phone and they came over here and we will hopefully stay here for the rest of my career.”
A new environment is always a challenge, but the sporting dimension is more important still. It often takes a while for North American players moving to Europe to get used to the bigger ice rinks.
However, Kevin Dallman is an altogether different story – a Canadian player whose real potential came out on European ice.
“The hockey is the same,” the Barys captain said. “The only difference is that the ice surface is a bit bigger. So you don’t get it too physical. It’s not as there, back home in the NHL. That’s not really what helped my game, but, actually, the bigger ice did because I like to read place and jump on the open ice. That made a big difference to my success here.”
Kevin Dallman is one of seven North Americans reinforcing the Kazakh snow leopards. That is what enables Barys to claw their opponents – in a purely hockey way, of course.
“North American style, European style, it’s all hockey,” he said. “And it all gels together with Europeans over there, Russians over there, so hockey is the same. Yes, we like to bring in that little bit of aggressiveness, body-checking, and it intimidates some players, but it’s hockey – you know that you may get hurt, you can’t be afraid out there.”
Barys currently sit fourth in the KHL’s Eastern conference with few worries of not making it to the playoffs.