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As the chances of a new NHL season starting on time seem to evaporate, the KHL punctually kicked off its season on Tuesday, featuring a rematch of last season’s Gagarin Cup finalists Dynamo and Avangard.  Capitals top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, who recently signed a two year deal re-upping with his hometown KHL team Traktor, also sat down with Sport-Express correspondent Yuriy Golyshak for an extensive interview ahead of Traktor’s season opener on Thursday. While according to the article Kuznetsov has a reputation for agreeing to meet a reporter and then turning off his cell phone and not showing up, this time Kuzya was apparently happy to talk.

In the interview, Kuznetsov explains his reasoning for staying in the KHL for another two seasons and the “game” he made out of his waffling on the subject. He also reveals that he was hurt when the Capitals didn’t invite him to Development Camp this season and that he would have attended had they called.

Below, Igor Kleyner has your translation.

Yuriy Golyshak: You have been tortured with the same question lately.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: That’s what shocked me.  The whole summer I was approached – about the NHL: “Leaving?  Staying?”  But generally, I get interesting questions.  We have great journalists.

Yuriy Golyshak: Thank you.  But at some point it appeared you became a part of this game.  You already made a decision regarding the NHL, but continued to maintain the intrigue, just messing with those great journalists.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: Honestly, I wasn’t messing with them.  I really didn’t know anything until the last moment; the contract with Traktor wasn’t signed yet.  As soon as it happened – I announced everything the next day.  There were a lot of questions – the lockout, the labor union business… but most importantly – the Olympics.

Yuriy Golyshak: The Olympics wouldn’t get away from you regardless.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: Are you sure?  Imagine: it’s not working out for me in Washington.  I am sent down to the farm-club.  I lose a year.  And so on… when I announced my decision to stay in Chelyabinsk, the veterans of hockey were divided.  Half of them said: the right decision.  The rest: he should have left.

Yuriy Golyshak: How did you tell Washington about postponing the move?

Evgeny Kuznetsov: I didn’t tell them anything.

Yuriy Golyshak: Did the Americans find out from the newspapers?

Evgeny Kuznetsov: I have no idea.  And now, it’s a shame they didn’t even invite me to their summer development camp.  [Editor’s note: “очень обидно “ literally means “my feelings are greatly hurt”]

Yuriy Golyshak: Would you go?

Evgeny Kuznetsov: I really wanted to.  It’s just very interesting to get another look at how it is there.  Even if I wouldn’t be able to go, just to get the invitation would be nice.  I don’t know whether they gave up on me all together or not, but it’s somewhat strange.

For the record, the Capitals organization is still eager to get him stateside. According to a Capitals spokesman:

We are very excited about Kuznetsov’s potential and we look forward to having him at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and in the Capitals uniform as soon as he is ready.

The Capitals have consistently expressed their eagerness to bring Kuznetsov to North America. By not attending this year’s development camp, Kuznetsov missed out on some standout performances by his countrymen. Stanislav Galiev displayed physical development with some offensive flair, and newcomer Sergey Kostenko turned heads with his work in net.

Later in the interview, Golyshak brought up a quote from Dynamo goalie Alex Eremenko, who recently announced he would  not grant another interview until the spring.  “I believe you cannot refuse interviews,” Kuznetsov responded. “It’s unacceptable. If you are not in the mood, just answer ‘Yes, no, I don’t know’.  I have learned that.  The reporter will realize: better try again another time.”

A few hours after the interview was published on the Sport-Express website, a few Russian sites, including the popular posted excerpts from it. Kuznetsov took to Twitter to express his displeasure:

Translated: “AllHockey again posted only a part of my interview and made me look like an idiot!!! From now on I do not interact with the media.”

Oh, Kuzya and the media. When will these two crazy kids just admit they love each other?

  • As always, fascinating story that I didn’t see on the Post’s Capitals Insider. Great work bringing it back to us non-Russians speakers. 🙂

  • vic

    i acted like a jerk with Caps. why are the treating me the same way ???? only in soviet russia ….

  • yuk

    Kuznetsov gave really wide, extensive interview to Sport-Express. He have shown a lot of maturity and critical thinking there for very young player. What he shouldn’t afraid then and now is not making the Caps roster and been sent to farm-club. Especially, when he telling how much workout he doing and that his weight now increased from previous 70 to 95 kg (153 to 207 lb)!! If he doesn’t losing in speed, he looks like completely ready for NHL. But considering lockout, he seems made a right choice, at-least, for one year.
    Since no hockey here for some time, streaming KHL games from the Internet is a good choice now, especially when a lot of NHLers will play there during lockout. The season opened yesterday in the presence of Gretzky, Messier and games are very good quality. Tomorrow, it would be interesting to see Kuznetsov’s Traktor vs. Metallurg, same region neighbors, in their opener. When Malkin will play for Metallurg their rivalry would be even more entertaining to watch or Ovi’s club vs Kuzzy’ Traktor.

  • I’ve been eager to see this guy in the States, but this past summer has made me reconsider. He wants to stay in the KHL, signs a contract to stay out of the Caps system, then his feelings are “greatly hurt” when he doesn’t get an invite to development camp? I’m sure he’d be welcomed with sufficient fanfare….if he wanted to come. Which he doesn’t. So much for the Ovi advantage to bringing over Russians.

  • Craig

    Not sure why he deserves a spot at development camp? Being invited there is a privilege not a right. Yes he has amazing talent but if he has no desire to bring that talent to the states, then his spot should go to someone who does have the desire to be a capital or at the very least someone who is willing to put in the grind time in the AHL/ECHL/Wherever they put you until a point where you’ve proven you have the dedication and drive to wear the Weagle.