Earlier today, we published a Russian interview with Evgeny Kuznetsov in which he repeated his desire to come to America. Speaking to R-Sport, Kuzya said he had broken off contract negotiations with Traktor Chelyabinsk and no amount of money would keep him from emigrating after this season.
Ahead of Sunday’s game with the New York Rangers, Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lynsekov spoke to Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin after the morning skate. He asked him about Kuznetsov’s comments.
Pavel Lysenkov: Traktor forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has just stated in an interview that even $15 million a year won’t make him stay in Russia. Don’t you think Zhenya has stayed for two seasons to long?
Alex Ovechkin: I don’t want to condemn what he’s done.
Pavel Lysenkov: You don’t have to – let’s just state facts.
Alex Ovechkin: Two years ago I told Zhenya when he re-signed with Traktor, “you should’ve gone to Washington and grow as a player in the NHL”. Last year, he played well. He got injured a few times this year… It’s a shame he didn’t make the Olympics. You can say, Zhenya stayed in Russia to make that team. It’s difficult to evaluate from the outside. But I’m glad Kuzya says that now. I want him to come over and grow his skill, not stand still. He’ll see what he should do in the NHL, how to behave. He’ll gain some experience that will help him in life. You can always come back to Russia if it doesn’t work out for you in America. He’s still young and loses nothing.
Ovechkin responding gives Kuznetsov’s words special significance. Despite l’affaire Kuzya going on for years, Ovechkin spoke out about it only once before, during his KHL stint during the NHL lockout.