Thanks to HFBoards poster (and Rink Reader) artilector for the following translation (which originally appeared here) of a good bit of the interview Sport-Express's Slava Malamud did recently with Donald Brashear:
SE: What happened in your fight with Laraque [ed. note: watch the fight here]?
B: I underestimated George [Laraque] a bit - didn't take into account his reach. I thought I held him at bay with an extended arm, but it was useless - he was getting every punch through. I thought, damn, that's some reach. It wasn't pretty. Thankfully, the refs didn't jump in right away. That's why I couldn't stay on my knees for too long, so that they wouldn't break up the fight. I knew that I could still set him up for a punch.
SE: Is a knockout blow your principal strength?
B: No, you can never rely on any single thing. Why put everything you have into a single punch? What if you miss? You'll open yourself up, and he'll nail you with a straight. No, you have to pick your spots, and properly set the guy up.
SE: (Asks Brashear about his 97/98 season in Vancouver, when he had 372 PIM in 77 games, almost a fight per game)
B: That's how your earn a reputation. You get put out there when something's brewing, you nail a couple of guys.. After a few games the opponents know that when you're on the ice, better not try anything funny. It breaks up their gameplan and protects our stars. Once a fighter has earned a reputation, his presence mostly prevents fights, instead of provoking them.
SE: Do you have some special trade secrets, or do you rely on your power?
B: Of course, I have [trade secrets]. When I go out to fight, I'm like a forward who's scoring a goal, or a goalie who's blocking a shot. I measure up my opponent, try to recall everything I know about him: punching power, whether he starts out aggressively, or takes his time. Then I come up with a strategy for the fight. Afterwards I analyze it, look for errors, try to remember for the future.
SE: Could you list the main principles that every starting enforcer should know?
B: The main thing, like I said, is to know the opponent, especially his strengths. The other thing is - don't forget defense. Most guys want to just go out there and bury the guy right off the bat. And I think you need to be able to protect yourself.
SE: And how can you do that?
B: If you know which arm the guy prefers to punch with, try to neutralize it. Hold the arm or the shoulder to limit his range of motion. Or, turn away from the punches - let them hit the back of your head, its not as painful.
SE: Who was your toughest opponent?
B: The toughest are all the guys in the league right now. Everybody seems to be huge, with a long reach.
SE: Did you ever fight Andrey Nazarov, the only Russian enforcer?
SE: Do you remember how it went?
B: I remember every fight. Nazarov was not a very good fighter, I never held him in high esteem.
SE: You mean he lacked technique, or power, or has a weak chin?
B: As far as strengh and guts, he was fine. Strong guy, didn't decline fights, was always ready to dance. But technique-wise.. [not so good]