The ongoing drama of Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s impending jump to the NHL is relentless. Informally, we call this drama Fifty Shades of Red, one for each of his forecasted dates to end our second Long National [Capital] Nightmare by putting on the red sweater we thought he’d have been wearing for a couple of years by now. Just a few short days ago, as we brought you another pronouncement from Kuznetsov on this subject – the one where he appeared quite open to a new long-term deal with a KHL outfit (not even necessarily his beloved Traktor), I told myself it was time for us to kick the habit. No more Kuzya-Is-Coming-Or-Not translations!

We didn’t last the week. In yet another interview, this time with Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov, Kuzya talks about coming to Washington again, reasons for his recent jersey number change to #84, and a nice surprise he is preparing for his hometown fans. Also, as it turns out, in a few months Kuznetsov will file the necessary paperwork to obtain his American visa. Well, Kuzya, you can mess all you want with reporters, bloggers, followers, fans, coaches, and even GMGM – but you don’t mess with USCIS! That date of entry on your visa application better be real!


Kuznetsov’s full conversation with Lysenkov is below.

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Olympic rings at the Sochi airport. (Photo credit: Alexey Maishev)

For the record, Peter makes awesome videos, both in style and substance.

Also for the record, the recent law passed by the Russian Duma banning so-called propaganda of nontraditional relations to minors is hideous. Not necessarily because the Russian authorities in Sochi will be arresting athletes, journalists, or foreign spectators who are gay or show support for the gay rights cause by wearing a rainbow lapel pin – because they will not, and anybody who thinks otherwise does not understand a thing about Russia. And not because a gay teenager playing hockey somewhere in Ryazan or Ekaterinburg will now be prevented from coming out to his teammates – believe me, that kid is facing other, much more serious problems in his life, like getting through another day without being beaten into a bloody pulp. Will the law contribute to worsening of the public attitude towards gay rights? For sure. Will it be used against someone whose words or action rub the government the wrong way? Perhaps, but so could any other law in Russia. In my opinion, the real victims in this mess could be the many thousands of gay parents in Russia, who will now live their lives in fear of losing their children, adopted or biological. In their cases, how in the world do you avoid violating the aforementioned law – aren’t parents supposed to be role models for their kids, especially when they are minors?

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Jared Wickerham

Photo credit: Jared Wickerham

Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport spoke with Mikhail Grabovski’s agent, Garry Greenstin, about his client’s signing with the Washington Capitals. In the interview, Greenstin reveals that Grabovski’s one-year contract, worth $3 million, also carries a no-trade clause. So let’s hope that works out. (Per team policy, the Capitals could not confirm the NTC.)

Greenstin also discusses the scope of the league’s attention: twelve NHL teams sought Grabovski’s services, including Montreal– despite their falling out following his defection in 2008. And Grabovski also reportedly had interest from the KHL and their fleet of cash-filled dumptrucks.

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Photo credit: hctraktor.org

When will Evgeny Kuznetsov sign on the dotted line and bring his hockey skills to Washington? Over the last three years we have been treated to many versions of Kuzya’s answer to this question, sometimes just a few hours apart. Lately, everybody– including Zhenya himself– seems to have settled on the consensus opinion: the upcoming season will Kuznetsov’s last in Chelyabinsk. The only remaining question was whether Kuznetsov would join the Caps organization in the spring of 2014 after Traktor’s season ends or if fans in Washington would have to wait until next fall for him to put on a red sweater.

Not so fast.

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Photo credit: Sovetsky Sport

After Friday’s training camp session, Traktor Chelyabinsk announced their captain and assistant captains for the upcoming season. Konstantin Panov will wear the “C” while former Capital Jan Bulis and future Cap Evgeny Kuznetsov will be sporting the “A’s.”

But that’s not why you’re here. Earlier this morning, Sport.ru’s Igor Eronko tweeted out this quote from Kuznetsov: “I think i’ll return to Russia from NHL when I’m 30.”

It seems Kuzya is planning the return trip even before he’s arrived in North America.

As always, context is key. Kuznetsov is speaking to a reporter from a major Russian media outlet who has asked him a loaded question– something along the lines of “Why bother going to the NHL, Kuzya, if everybody is coming back home now anyway?” The 21-year-old Kuznetsov handled it deftly, showing respect to both the league in which he will be playing in this season and Ilya Kovalchuk, who has instantly become the face of the KHL and nothing short of the national hero upon announcing his return.

Kuznetsov is entering the final season of a two-year contract with Traktor that included an enormous bonus from the KHL to keep him at home.

I’ve translated the rest of Kuznetsov’s conversation with Alexey Mikushkin of Sovetsky Sport below.

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Sorry, ladies. Shirts stayed on this time. (Photo credit: slo-vo.ru’s Naumkov Yaroslav)

It’s summer, and Washington Capitals super-prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has nothing to do. Along with some Traktor teammates, Kuznetsov recently participated in a charity soccer game against a team of municipal bureaucrats from the Chelyabinsk suburb of Kopeysk. Of course the local media was there to report on every shot, pass, and save by the hometown hockey heroes.

Without hesitation, Kuznetsov volunteered for goalkeeping duty – only to suffer the ignominy of allowing a goal in the game’s first minute. Kuznetsov was nutmegged (i.e. like a five-hole, but more embarrassing). Undaunted, Kuzya carried on with the game. Not limited to a defensive role, Kuznetsov was active in organizing his team’s offense as well, volunteering to take his team’s penalty kick. So did teammate Stanislav Chistov. Paper-scissors-rock was chosen to resolve the stalemate, and Kuzya was forced to yield. The game ended in a 7-7 tie and settled by the universally hated penalty kicks, won by Kuzya and his boys. As if anybody cares.

Meanwhile, RMNB readers can look forward to next summer and the inevitable barrage of pictures featuring Ovi, Dima, Stan, and (finally!) Evgeny kicking a soccer ball somewhere in Arlington. Maybe Orly won’t get stuck in goal next time!

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Photo credit: J Pat Carter

Less than twenty minutes into the contest between the Washington Capitals and the Florida Panthers, the Caps’ big trade deadline acquisition, veteran winger Martin Erat, went awkwardly into the boards courtesy of a reckless shove by hulking young defenseman Eric Gudbranson. A few anxious seconds later, Caps fans were holding their breath as Marty was helped off the ice by his teammates, clearly favoring his right leg. Later on, the team referred to it as a “lower body injury.” Nothing to be happy about, of course, but it could have been so much worse, especially given Erat’s extensive concussion history.

“Wait! What concussion history?,” you may ask, and rightfully so. After all, Marty has been an NHLer for over a decade, and in all that time the Nashville Predators (his team since his debut in 2003) released exactly zero statements mentioning Martin Erat having a concussion. The ubiquitous “upper body injury” appears numerous times, but never a concussion. In fact, a Google search for “Martin Erat concussion” yields references to just one suspected case – an injury Erat suffered during the last World Championship. So, no worries then, right?

But what if someone actually asked Marty? Because someone did.

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When the Washington Capitals used their 1st round draft pick to select Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, his puck skills and potential as a future NHL star were already recognized by the hockey world. His off-ice talents were not nearly as well known. Since he became a Capitals prospect, RMNB has been bringing our readers attention to Zhenya’s dabbling in areas as diverse as real estate and pop singing. And now we present to you Evgeny Kuznetsov, the sitcom star.

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Orlov returns! (Photo credit: Sweetest Hockey On Earth’s Tim Stough)

Playing at Verizon Center on December 6th, an unfriendly shoulder was planted under Dmitry Orlov‘s chin, resulting in an upper body injury that would keep him away from the game he loves for the next three months.

On Saturday night, Orlov was finally back in action– playing for the Hershey Bears against the Norfolk Admirals. Less than a minute into the game, Orlov hoisted the puck over the glass, earning a delay-of-game penalty. Not the start he was loooking for, but — as he tells RMNB- Orlov was just happy to be back in action.

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Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey on Earth

UPDATE: Jason Guarente of the Reading Eagles reports that Galiev is expected to be reassigned to Hershey Thursday.

Early on Wednesday, the Hershey Bears assigned Stanislav Galiev — third round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — to ECHL affiliate Reading Royals. The rookie’s demotion may come as a surprise to many – as just a couple of months ago the young Russian was rated at #29 on Hockey Prospectus Top 100 Prospects list. But to those who follow the Bears hockey regularly, the move makes sense. Since the AHL season started, Stan’s struggled to adjust his game to the pro level.

As the Bears were preparing to face the visiting St. John’s Ice Caps on Saturday, RMNB found the usually gregarious and easygoing Stan in a subdued mood. After recording just one assist in the first eight games of the season, Galiev found himself in Adam Oates’ doghouse as a healthy scratch for three of the next four games — despite scoring the game-winning shootout goal for the Bears on November 2nd. Stan talked to us about his bumpy transition away from the QJMHL, being coached by a Hall of Famer, and his search for confidence on the ice.

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