Traktor’s director Vladimir Krechin. (Photo credit: Traktor’s official website)
For a few weeks now the saga of Evgeny Kuznetsov has been dominating the hearts and minds of Caps fans. The question being, where will Kuzya be playing next year? Is he going to join the NHL team that selected him in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft? Will he stay true to his home town and remain a Traktorist for another season? Or will he prefer the greener pastures of another KHL club, perhaps a powerhouse like SKA St. Petersburg or even one of Traktor’s main KHL rivals like Salavat Yulaev Ufa?
The latest development in this story came in an interview Kuznetsov gave earlier this week to the host of KHL-TV’s “The Icing Show,” Igor Larin. Kuznetsov purportedly stated his intention to remain in the KHL, but not necessarily with his current club. KHL-TV has not yet made video of this interview available online.
Many Russian hockey analysts and former players have given their opinions on his decision since then, yet Kuznetsov’s team, Traktor Cheylabinsk, has stayed silent. Until now.
Traktor’s Director Vladimir Krechin spoke to Sport-Express’s Yuriy Golyshak after his team’s 2-1 victory over Ak Bars on Friday. My translation of their interview is below.
Vladimir Krechin: The rumors regarding the possibility of Evgeny Kuznetsov remaining in the KHL but potentially moving on to Ufa from Chelyabinsk created some buzz in town. In town, but not the club. In the [front] office of Traktor we had a laugh. As it turns out, this situation is absolutely impossible, and the only competitors for [our player] are in North America.
I listened to Kuznetsov’s interview: so ‘[I] don’t know which KHL team I will be with.’ Here is what I say: there are regulations in the KHL. Until he is 28 years old, he can not leave Traktor as long as we make him a qualifying offer. If we raise his salary by a certain percentage, he simply does not have a right to leave Traktor. And, of course we will make him such offer. And thus will reaffirm our rights to the player. Kuznetsov will definitely not play for another KHL team next year.
Yuriy Golyshak: Have you discussed with him the thoughts regarding Ufa?
Vladimir Krechin: I try not to bother my players with such questions unless there is a break in the championship. For as long as the playoffs are going on, let him think about hockey. But I do know that there are other teams circling around our player, offering him something.
Yuriy Golyshak: How many other teams?
Vladimir Krechin: Three at least.