“I must break you… with my blue eyes.”
Last week, we told you how Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin landed on the cover of ProSport Magazine’s December issue. Now comes the interview Ovechkin did with Alexander Lyutikov, and let’s just say it’s interesting.
In the interview, Ovechkin kvetches about Evgeny Kuzetsov’s decision to stay in Russia for the next two years. For the first time in the press, Ovechkin reveals just how strongly he opposed Kuznetsov’s choice and that he advised Kuznetsov against it. “I think he’s outgrown the KHL level,” Ovechkin said. “[He] needs to move on.”
Below, RMNB’s Fedor Fedin translates the interview.
You were talking [Kuznetsov] into going to the NHL, to Washington back then [at Kuznetsov's wedding in Chelyabinsk], right?
What do you mean by “talking into”? I just told him it’d be better for him to go to the NHL, that he’s awaited there. And that his skill level will grow faster there.
Did you understand his choice to stay with Traktor?
Did you tell him that?
I think he knows it.
Did you talk to him afterwards?
Of course. I told him how I see the situation. It’s his choice, we have good, friendly relations, but again, I didn’t understand. I think he’s outgrown the KHL level and needs to move on.
Was Ilya Bryzgalov right when he called out young [Russian] players who choose the KHL [over the AHL], where they basically sell their ambitions for money?
He was right in some situations; he was wrong in some situations. There are different cases. Talking about Kuzya, he should’ve gone to America. Even if it hadn’t worked out, he’d quietly come back to Russia and have the same role and the same money that was available before. I think he’ll understand it in a year. He’ll understand that it is time to go to the NHL, but he’ll have a year left on his deal with Traktor.
Will a year be enough to understand it?
I think he’ll understand it even earlier.
In 2005 you were close to signing a contract with Avangard. Would that have slowed down your growth much?
I signed a contract with Omsk and could’ve stayed there for two years and made some big bucks. But I risked that and went to Washington not even knowing what their team was like. That’s how I achieved everything I have. It was the right move for me. My close ones were for me staying in Russia. Of course, money is a huge factor. But I decided that I had to go. And I didn’t listen to anybody – parents, agents I had then, coaches.
I can understand Kuznetsov. He has injuries by 20. Yet he hasn’t earned much money by playing hockey. Now in Russia he’s got the first contract that will take care of his family for years to come.
I’m not denying that going to the NHL is a risk.
Did you have the same situation?
Yes. If you just want to go forward, want to be known around the world, then you sure have to go [the NHL]. You’ll have to work hard there to get a contract.
But given how the NHL lockout has gone down, it’s pretty hard to quibble with Kuznetsov’s decision now, right?