Photo credit: 74hockey.com
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 AllHockey.ru posted excerpts from it. Kuznetsov took to Twitter to express his displeasure:
Опять этот Allhockey выложил часть моего интервью из газеты…и теперь я получаюсь идиотом !!!с этого момента я больше не общаюсь с прессой!
— Evgeny Kuznetsov (@Kuzya92) September 4, 2012
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?