All photos via the KHL’s Facebook Fan Page.
On Saturday, the KHL will host their 3rd annual All-Star Game in Riga, Latvia. Former Washington Capital Sergei Fedorov will be captaining one team at the game — a team that includes Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has 16G and 15A as of the All-Star break, leading Traktor Chelyabinsk in scoring. Kuznetsov was nominated as a starter for the game by a landslide fan vote, finishing second overall in all voting.
Ahead of the KHL’s All-Star Game, Fedorov spoke to Sport Express’ Dmitry Kuznetsov about Kuznetsov. Below the jump, Igor Kleyner offers a translation of the interview, where former Cap Fedorov talks Kuznetsov’s scoring, overwhelming fan popularity, and offers some perspective on the choice that’s coming up for Kuznetsov — whether to continue to play in the KHL, or make the jump to the NHL.
The 42-year-old future Hall of Famer also participated in a highly silly photoshoot to promote the All-Star Game, along with the other team captain and former NHLer Sandis Ozolins, which we’ve preserved here in a post for historical purposes. Please enjoy.
Dmitry Kuznetsov: I must ask you about the young Traktor’s talent Evgeny Kuznetsov. He got the highest total number of fan votes for ASG Team Fedorov. How do you like his game?
Sergei Fedorov: I like it. He skates very well, he has awesome hands. WJC in Canada demonstrated that he really improved his game over the last year. Great job. I am very happy for him, he has been playing a terrific hockey over the last few months.
Dmitry Kuznetsov: Should he depart for Washington, where you finished your NHL career, in summer?
Sergei Fedorov: He has his professional people who are going to help him make the right choice. But he definitely should not rush. At such age one has to be on the ice as much as possible, and he has this opportunity at Traktor. He became the team leader in a very short time. They have a good team in Chelyabinsk. So, as they say, better is the enemy of good.
Dmitry Kuznetsov:But you left for the NHL when you were twenty years old…
Sergei Fedorov: I was not rushing, it was a different situation. It was a serious step for me. Not only I wanted to play hockey in front of twenty thousand crazy fans, but also to have a normal life outside hockey. When I played with CSKA, we spend a lot of time with the team – if not all of the time. Eleven months a year. So my move was a logical one, even though I was very young.
Dmitry Kuznetsov: Were you 100% ready for the NHL?
Sergei Fedorov: Four preseasons with CSKA turn you into a powerful machine. Physically I was ready for the NHL. The rest I picked up on the fly. But now the Russians in the NHL are no longer exotic. These days, when you arrive there, you must stand out among your competitors if you want to become a star. Only then a coach will start making any plans based on you. I was a center, in the NHL now the managers tend to build their teams around centers, because it’s a playmaking position. Zhenya Kuznetsov is a winger, so there are some nuances.
Dmitry Kuznetsov: Who does he remind you?
Sergei Fedorov: I have been asked this question before, but I don’t know who he compares with.
Dmitry Kuznetsov: Is he similar to Mogilny?
Sergei Fedorov: No. Sashka was more powerful. He was stronger physically. And his skating manner was a bit different. Zhenya has a different style. He is very smooth, you can even say elegant.
KHL All-Star Game Promotional Photos
Feds is so glad he renewed his membership at the hockey-golf club.
Ah! But the nine iron is a foolish choice for this kind of ice surface. Everyone knows you should use a putter to go top shelf.
Why yes, he is the captain of the All-Star Game! How did you know?
Real hockey players are always ready to play, even when waiting at the dentist’s office.
Speaking of the dentist’s office.
Obligatory rookie photo pose.
They never make it through a whole game without someone losing his temper and cross-checking the chessboard.
Oh, here he goes.
KHL training exercise.
Liam Neeson stars in “The Sergei Fedorov Story.”
“I must break you.”
Captions by Ana Hansen.