One-On-One Interview with Evgeny Kuznetsov


Evgeny Kuznetsovs Awesome Crocs

Personality Defined: While we interviewed Evgeny, we noticed he wore white crocs with some stickers on them. Included were NY Yankees, Arizona Cardinals & Spider-Man logos and his number at development camp, 92.

If one player could be said to have stolen the limelight during Caps development camp, it must be Evgeny Kuznetsov.  The first-round draft pick scored a flurry of goals in scrimmages; invoked the ire of that other RMNB crush object, Braden Holtby; met with some Russian-language students from UMD, and even gorged on some cupcakes.  We wanted to pick Evgeny’s brain, but we were stifled by the language barrier.

Luckily, friend-of-the-blog and sage of all things Caps, Oksana Zolotar, helped us out.  In addition to having a truly awesome name, Oksana speaks fluent Russian.  We put the two kids together for a chat following Wednesday’s scrimmage (in which Evgeny went 2G-1A-3P).   Follow us past the jump to hear Evgeny discuss English, his ambitions, and his always cheerful attitude.

Oksana Zolotar: What are your impressions of Washington? America in general?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Well, this isn’t my first time in America.  I’ve been to America about ten times now, but it’s my first time in Washington. I haven’t been downtown yet, but other than that, I like everything, especially the atmosphere of the team.

[General Manager George McPhee says something congratulatory, but inaudible, to Evgeny. Evgeny nods politely.]

OZ: Are you having trouble with communication?  The English language? How are you handling it?
EK: Yeah, I’m definitely having a lot of trouble. I don’t know the language. I know a little, so I can interact a little bit, translate, so it’s okay for now. I’m just going to study English a bit more before I make the final decision to come here, but that’s not totally up to me.

OZ: When the season’s over, do you relax a little bit in terms of training? Or keep at the same rate?
EK: This year I didn’t even have a chance to go anywhere on vacation because at the end of the season was the World Championship. I rested a little bit, a week, then I had to start training for tests before the draft. After that, I came here and trained in New York, then the draft, and then came here.

We interviewed Evgeny after he scored two goals and had an assist in Wednesday's Scrimmage.

Evgeny dominated Wednesday's scrimmage. He had two goals and a primary assist. (Photo by Neil Greenberg)

OZ: What do you think you have to work on to reach the next level? What weaknesses do you have?
EK: I have to work on everything. Mostly I have to gain weight so I can be bigger, to play in the NHL you have to be big. But other than that, I need to work on skating and shooting, and I think it will be okay.

OZ: What about next year? What goals do you have? What plans?
EK: I would be more than happy to come here if they called, of course. But I do have a contract, and I would have to buy it out then, and I don’t have the type of money to buy it out.

OZ: If you were to compare yourself to a famous player, who would it be? Why?
EK: I can’t compare myself to any famous player because he’s already been playing, already accomplished something. I can only say who I admire, who I watch. I watch Malkin, Datsyuk, how they play, and try to do the same.

OZ: What about the Russian guys that are training with you? Did you already know them? Or just meet them here?
EK: [Laughs] Yeah, of course! I’ve known them for a long time! We played together, and always talked when our teams played against each other. But yeah, we’re friends, always keep in touch.

OZ: What about the Russians here? Do you know Ovechkin?
EK: No, I haven’t met anyone. Semin played in Chelyabinsk I remember.  He played when I was little.

Wed be terrible journal-- er... bloggers if we didnt ask Evgeny what was up with this photo.

We'd be terrible journal-- er... bloggers if we didn't ask Evgeny what was up with this photo.

OZ: Alright Evgeny, we all saw your wonderful photo [shows photo from draft night], tell me …are you always this happy?
EK: [Laughs] Yeah I’m always happy, I think you can even ask the guys on the team, and they’ll tell you that I’m always smiling.
OZ: Oh, I’ve seen it.  Everyone’s seen it.

OZ: Alright, last question.  But honestly, are you disappointed that you didn’t go to the Rangers? [Kuznetsov had said before that he’d prefer to be drafted by NYR.]
EK: Well, I just didn’t think that Washington would choose me because… I mean I’m not going to lie, of course before I wanted to. But when Washington chose me, I realized that it was even better for me because here there are Russians, fantastic coaching. I don’t want to say anything about the Rangers, I don’t have anything against them, but I like it here better, I interact with people, it’s somewhat more pleasant here.

* * *

Extra: Bruce Boudreau’s thoughts on Kuznetsov

“Fantastic” coach Bruce Boudreau sang Kuznetsov’s praises after the scrimmage on Wednesday.  In a chat with WP’s Tarik El-Bashir, Bruce also mentioned the pizazz Evgeny brings to his performance.

Finally, we’d like to thank Oksana Zolotar for her invaluable contribution.  She was a total pro in these interviews, and –oh yeah– Monday is her birthday!  Congratulations, Oksana!  We’ll have her interviews with Dmitri Orlov and Stanislav Galiev later this week.

  • Mily

    Happy Birthday Oksana! and congratulations on the well done interview.

  • Darb

    Happy Birthday, Oksana!

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  • holly golightly

    Great interview! Kuznetsov’s personality really showed on the ice during dev camp and it comes out in this interview too! looking forward to the interviews w/ galiev and orlov!

  • I love evgeny kuznetsov he is hilarious! I was lucky enough to be able to meet him at fan fest and have a very interesting conversation with him in russian and english. I learned russian basically so I could talk to Ov, and Sasha, and Varly but now since Kuznetsov and the other russians are here my hard work might pay off!! ya lyobit kuznetsov!

  • CapsFan1975

    Enjoyed reading the interview with Kuznetsov. And happy birthday, Oksana. I did meet Kuznetsov at the autograph session at Fan Fest and he said he was Stalin.

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