14.2.18 Matěj Mayer

Kulda: I believe that hard work always pays off

Sparta acquired two defensemen on the last day of the trade deadline. Together with Tomas Voracek came ARTURS KULDA, the second Latvian player in Sparta’s history, who played for the last time in KHL for Kunlun. The tough defenseman played briefly in the NHL and participated in the Olympics. He joined Sparta at the beginning of the week. „I like challenges, so I look forward to it. I wanna go and win every game,“ he says.

Why did you go just to Sparta?
We finished the season in Kunlun and I got an offer to come help to Sparta and play a little bit more. Go to the great organization and help the team to win. We talked about it and it was an easy decision for me coming to Sparta.

The only Latvian player in Sparta was Aleksandrs Jerofejevs few years ago, have you consulted with him?
No, I actually didn’t know that he played in Sparta. But I contacted Marek Daloga because I played with him this year in Kunlun. I enjoyed to be in one team with him in China. He is a great guy and also great player, so I talked with him about Sparta.

Did the engagement in Kunlun Red Stars fill your expectations?
Season didn’t go as well as everyone planned. We had a good start and played well, but then anything stop going that way. We didn’t have a chance to playoffs. So, it was a disappointment.

You played against your younger brother Edgars in KHL. What was it like?
It was fun. I think first time I played against him was two years ago. He played in America for a while and obviously I was there. We both started play in KHL after... It was really cool, both of us we trying really hard.

You were born in Germany, hockey played in Latvia, Russia, USA, Canada, Finland, China and now you are heading to the Czech Republic. Where did you find it the most exciting on hockey and life by your point of view?
You know, it’s hard to say. I think every team and every city and state I played on have something interesting in it. I have great memories from every destinations. It’s a always a great experiences and I’m very happy from the opportunity play in all these places.

You have been drafted to the NHL and several years you have been trying to make this league. Why didn’t work?
I think I played well and had a good statistics. But it was an NHL, you have to be in the right place at the right time... Something didn’t work out for me. But I played a little bit there.

It is known that you enjoying the tough game. For example, Czech fans can remember your huge hit on Radek Martinek during the World Championship 2011. Do you remember this situation?
Yes, I remember it. I finished the check and I didn’t leave my foot from the ice, elbow or do anything bad to Radek. I think it was a normal play, there are many similar checks in the game, especially in NHL. I got a three games suspension, I couldn’t do anything with it, but I don’t think this was like a bad hit with intent to hurt. I don’t agree with suspension.

You also block the shots very well, in KHL you were the best in the season 2014/15. Can we expect you be high in hits and blocked shots? Is the precise defensive work characteristic of your game?
Yeah, definitelly. I’ll do everything I can to help the team win every game. Because now the every game is tough and important. Regular season will soon end and we want to playoffs.

You are a tough guy on the ice, but I have heard about you being calm in private, and even can play the guitar. Is it true?
Yes, it’s something I really like to do. I wish I would play more, but I need to travel so much and I don’t spend enough time home in Riga. I still try to work on it.

113
That’s the number of blocked shots by ARTURS KULDA in the season 2014/15. He was the best in KHL.

You played for Latvia at the 2014 Olympics, but your country will not participate the games this year. Are you sorry you’ll not play at the Olympics?
Yes, it’s a very big disappointment. I really enjoyed Sochi, it was a great time for me and Latvian hockey. It’s a great shame our country didn’t qualify for the Olympics in South Korea.

Have you ever been in Czech Republic? Do you know something about Czech hockey and Sparta?
Yes, I played against Lev Praha couple times. I came also for the exhibiton games. Czech hockey are known in the world. You have many great ice hockey players. This is big hockey state. I played against Czech national team at the World Championships and Olympics. It’s a good open oponnent. I know Sparta is one of the oldest teams in Czech Republic. Everyone knows that it’s a great organisation and team won title many times. It’s a very good and fun experience to be here.

You are going to play in the last four games in the regular season, the team is fighting for playoffs. How do you look forward to this challenge?
I like challenges, so I look forward to it. I like to win, so that’s why I’m here and why I came here. I wanna go and win every game.

Have you already talked with coaches in Sparta about what do they want from you?
Yes. They want I play my game. To be very well defensively, to help forwards with offense. Just do my job. I believe that hard work always pays off.

Why did you choose number 44?
I had number 44 in the NHL for Winnipeg and also when I played in KHL for Novosibirsk and Ufa. I had a success with all those teams, so I hope I’ll be sucess in Sparta too.

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