Doesn’t this picture just make you sick? (Photo credit: Jonathan Newton)
A long, long time ago, in a frightening world before iPads and Windows Vista, there was this belief that the Capitals needed only one guy to get over the hump to become a stone-cold Stanley Cup contender. It was 2001-02. They already had fifty-goal scorer Peter Bondra, Vezina winner Olie Kolzig, and what many thought to be among the most solid defenses in the NHL.
In the article translated below, we learn even more crucial information about Kuz including his nagging shoulder injury, his thoughts on the slash Braden Holtby delivered to him during Caps Development Camp, and his experience being drafted by Washington. On top of that, we also learn about Kuznetsov’s half a year of driving without a license, his love for McDonald’s food, and his embarrassment on never seeing Alex Ovechkin play live. Check out all of that and more below the jump.
UPDATE 12/11, 3PM: Suspensions have been doled out. Belokon has been suspended for 13 games, Verot for 12, Gratton for 15, and Larin for 13. Avangard will pay 100k RUR (3.3k USD) to the KHL, and Vityaz will pay 400k RUR (13k USD). Justice is served. Go about your day, citizen.
Editor’s note- Fedor is a total fanboy for Avangard. This is not dispassionate reporting.
Vityaz Chekhov (stars: ex-Cap Chris Simon, ex-Bear Brandon Sugden, ex-Cap Darcy Verot, Josh Gratton) is the toughest team in the KHL, full of provokers and shameless punks. They were rumored to have signed the legendary Chris Chelios a few weeks ago. They are dead last in the West– 8 points behind the next spot, 17 points out of the playoffs. Their coach is the best Russian fighter in the NHL history, Andrei Nazarov.
Avangard Omsk Region (stars: ex-Cap Jaromir Jagr, Martin Skoula, Marek Svatos, Kari Ramo) is one of the most successful and richest teams in the league. They are currently fifth in the East.
How is this fight unlike its predecessors? For the first time, one team didn’t fight at all, the Hawks (Avangard’s nickname) were simply pummeled by the Vityazes (Vityaz is a Russian knight). Vityaz started their thugs (Verot, Simon, Sugden, Gratton) and sent them after Avangard immediately following the opening face off.
When a Caps Prospect goes above and beyond the call of duty, a one paragraph summary in Prospect Watch does not suffice. Today, we detail the fantastic first half of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s sophomore KHL season. Take it away, Fedor.
Kuznetsov gestures to Traktor fans during a post-game celebration. See the video below for more.
Evgeny Kuznetsovfell to the Caps at pick number 26. “We think he’s a very, very dynamic player,” McPhee said of Kuz at the time. ”He can skate, he thinks the game well, he moves the puck, he really attacks the net.” Braden Holtby agrees.
Fast-forward five months. You’ll find the 18 year-old tearing up the KHL in only his second season. Since being put on the “Young Guns Line” with Andrei Popov (a Philadelphia Flyers ’06 draftee) and Anton Glinkin, Kuznetsov has found some serious chemistry with his linemates. He has four goals and two assists in six games since the EuroHockeyTour break ended on November 17th. His team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, has won five straight games.
Russian fans are very, very passionate about hockey. If you need proof, look no further than the buildup for the upcoming KHL game between heated-rivals Avangard Omsk and Vityaz Chekhov. Avangard’s best player is former DC malcontent Jaromir Jagr, while Vityaz – known more for its boxing than hockey skill – has former Caps Brandon Sugden, Chris Simon, and Darcy Verot filling out their ranks.
The team’s beefs with each other have been simmering for a while now, stemming from one sad event. During the 2008-09 KHL season, Avangard’s Alexei Cherepanov passed out on the bench during a game against Vityaz in Chekhov. He later died. The cause of his death filled headlines in Russia for years, with both teams getting their fair share of the blame. Wikipedia’s wordy explanation is the most fair:
Alex Semin cries after receiving his silver medal.
Today, Russia’s 27 game World Championships winning streak came to a devastating end in a post-olympic rematch against Jaromir Jagr’s Czech Republic team. And much like the match in the Olympics earlier in the year, the pivotal play of today’s World Championships gold medal game was a huge Alex Ovechkin hit. But this time, it was the Russian Machine accidentally laying out and injuring one of his own teammates, Sergei Fedorov (above), which led to Tomas Rolinek’s game winning goal in the second period. Riding stellar goaltending from Tomas Vokoun and an incredible team defense, the Czechs took a 2 goal lead into the third period that they would never relinquish. Our beloved Ruskies fall to the Czech Republic 2-1. Silver has never tasted so bitter.
Like one would expect, the Russians came out and played with fire. But much like the Canadiens/Capitals series, most of Russia’s chances came from the perimeter. And the Czechs waited and pounced on any mistakes Russia made. A sense of real urgency only revealed itself towards the end of the third period. And by then it was too late for Russia.
On April 18, 2010, In Fedor Fedin, KHL, By Russian Machine Never Breaks
Everyone who follows the KHL knows that Vityaz Chekhov is the roughest team in the KHL. Former Hershey Bear Reid Simpson and Toronto Maple Leaf Nathan Perrott have played there. Former Washington Capitals Darcy Verot, Chris Simon and Brandon Sugden play there now. And for that Caps fan with an especially vivid memory, you may recall rumors during the past offeseason about Donald Brashear potentially signing with the club.
Well this season Vityaz participated in a superbrawl against Jaromir Jagr’s Avangard Omsk, where 840 PIM’s were awarded in this game. No, that’s not a typo. I’ll repeat, 840 PIM’s were awarded in that game. Somehow this talented group of testosterone-charged meatheads didn’t make the playoffs, so now it’s time to draw a proper conclusion. And their own Russian fans were kind enough to do it (with translated english captions). They created “cowards awards” for the worst teams and players in their opinion. Please watch the above video and find out who wins some tampons and the inglorious yellow underpants.
Above Tatiana Ovechkina (left) sits with her son Alex (middle) many years ago.
Today, March 19th, is Tatiana Ovechkina’s 60th birthday. In celebration of the milestone, Soviet Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov phoned in from Russia to Alex Ovechkin’s home in DC and interviewed the Great Mother of the Great 8.
In the translated article below, Ovechkina discusses what she loves to cook for her sons, why she didn’t fly to Vancouver to watch Alex in the Olympic Games & if he’s completely gotten over the crushing loss to Canada.
Russia defeated the Czech Republic 4-2 today and it was Alex Ovechkin’s “Hit Heard ‘Round Vancouver” that forced the key turnover from Jaromir Jagr. That hit in fact led to the Game Winning Goal by Evgeni Malkin and millions of mouths – across the world – left agape in wild disbelief. So obviously, after Ovechkin’s Herculean Feat, the media was quite excited to talk to the Russian Machine. They had many things to ask. Sadly, he was not as excited to speak to them, much like the rest of the Russian Team. Can you say “Is Party Now?”