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US-Born Hockey Player Granted Citizenship by Putin: ‘I Want to Be Russia’s Best Defenseman’

 / Go to the mediabankHockey. KHL. Match «Dynamo» (Moscow) — «Torpedo»Hockey. KHL. Match «Dynamo» (Moscow) — «Torpedo» / Go to the mediabank

‘Starting the Season is Very Exciting’

Currently, Brennan has just done training and is going to have a season opening game this weekend. He says he is very excited.»Been a long training camp, lots of preseason games. So the best part is getting to play the games. So starting the season, it’s very exciting,» the defenseman told Sputnik.Per Menell, every coach has his different way of teaching, but he feels pretty comfortable in Russia, «with the systems and everything.»»Everyone knows that Russia has such a strong country when it comes to hockey. Lots of great players that, when I came over here for the first time, some guys, I didn’t even know their names, and then I come and play and I think, ‘wow, like, these guys are incredible.’ So I think it definitely helped me coming over here and getting better.» Brennan admits that initially, the Russian language was a challenge for him:»At first it’s pretty tough, just given that the languages are so much different. Again, I guess this would be my third year in a Russian speaking country. So I’ve started to learn and get used to it. And once you know a few phrases and a few key words, then you can understand a lot more. Still for me sometimes, when guys start talking really fast, I have to tell them to slow down so I can try to understand. But again, I think it’s cool to be able to speak multiple languages, and especially now that I have a three-year contract here, I’m very eager to learn the language. And so I’ve been practicing a lot. It’s hard, but I’m determined to do it.»© Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich / Go to the mediabankThe Moscow City International Business CenterThe Moscow City International Business Center / Go to the mediabank

Cities That Never Sleep: ‘Moscow is a Kind of New York City’

He does not conceal his admiration with Moscow. Per Brennan, it’s «one of the top cities in the world» in many respects.»It’s hard to explain how much fun I have in the city and really how great it is,» the 26-year old says. «And I can’t speak more highly of it. When I try to explain it to people back in America, I tell them it’s kind of like New York City. It’s just there’s every restaurant you can want. You can go to the zoo. You can pretty much just do anything. So there’s always something to do and you’re never bored.»Brennan visited Moscow for the very first time when he was playing for Dinamo Minsk. He and his teammates went to the Russian capital to play some games. They went out for dinners and while driving around in a taxi the young man saw the downtown areas of the city and its beautiful architecture. «It was really amazing,» he recalls.© AP Photo / Alexander ZemlianichenkoThe August Super Blue Moon sets behind a historical building and the St. Basil’s Cathedral, right, as people walk in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023The August Super Blue Moon sets behind a historical building and the St. Basil’s Cathedral, right, as people walk in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023Per the hockey player, Moscow is typically portrayed in the US media as an old city with old buildings and colorful Russian churches with onion domes that look somewhat exotic to a Westerner. However, when Brennan saw the city with his own eyes, he found that it’s a wonderful mixture of old style-architecture and super-modern skyscrapers which coexist in harmony.After a year in Moscow, there are a few things which are still difficult for him to get used to. First, it’s driving.»It’s a little bit more chaotic here. Everyone’s going in and out of lanes. And back in America, it’s pretty much you stay in the lane. And lots of traffic.»And he misses Mexican food a little bit, even though Russian borscht and Tartarian uchpochmack are really good.»I like Mexican food a lot, like burritos and tacos. There are some places here, but I guess it’s not as popular as in America.»Brennan says he wants his family and friends to visit Russia this season.

"I talked with what's open, and so we're able to get the visa with some time. Right now, it's just planning when for them to come out. I want them to come when we will be in Moscow for a period of time so that I won't be on the road or anything and I'd be able to spend time with them and show them around the city a bit."

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‘Getting Russian Citizenship Means a Lot to Me’

In late July, Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Russian citizenship to Menell, according to the presidential decree published on the official information portal. Prior to that, in April, Brennan signaled his desire to become a Russian citizen.He says there were several reasons why he wanted to become a citizen of Russia:»I think, with being able to not be an import, we were able to free up another spot for O’Dell to sign back here. And I think he’s a really important piece of our team. Also with me signing three years. I see myself being here and playing hockey here until my legs don’t work anymore. So, um being able to get that citizenship is very special, and it means a lot to me. And I like it here so much. I want to be able to fit in and, you know, kind of just become a normal person in Moscow.» Brennan notes that he got a lot of help with paperwork and everything, so that the process of receiving Russian citizenship wasn’t particularly exhausting.His family and friends are happy about his decision, primarily because he feels so good about it.»Again, they’ve never been here, they don’t know. All they know is what I tell them. And I’m always honest with my family and friends. And again, they just want me to be happy. So when I showed interest that I wanted to do it, they were happy with it.»AmericasRussian Orthodox Christian NHL Player Says Not Wearing ‘Pride’ Jersey Due to His Faith18 January, 16:32 GMT

‘It’s Really Cool to Become Part of Russia’s National Team’

Brennan says that being a part of a Russian national team would be a great step in his career. He says that he wants to win the Gagarin Cup – the trophy presented to the winner of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) playoffs, and is named after first Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The defenseman believes that his team has a good chance of winning. He adds that to be able to represent the country would be cool as well.»Honestly, being a part of the national team would be really cool. But I’ve said this before, there’s so many great players here. Even the ones that are just playing in the KHL, there’s so many. Even in our team, we have lots of great defensemen. So I think it would be tough for me to get selected. I think there are plenty of other guys who are even better than I am. So it would be an honor for me. But again, it would be a tough task for me to achieve.»Now that he has a Russian passport, he has a special motivation to match and, possibly, outperform Russia’s best professional players.»I always want to be the best and be great. And even with, like I said, the defensemen on our team like Ozhiganov coming over, and Mironov, those are great players that I try to be just as good as. And then when you look around the league, too, so many other great players I would love to be just mentioned in the same sentence as some of these guys. So I’m always working to be better and totally be one of those names that people talk about as a one of the best defensemen.»Beyond PoliticsAmerican Farmer: Russia to Become World’s Number One Agricultural Powerhouse9 August, 18:48 GMT


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