There will be no NHL All-Star festivities this year, another casualty of the lockout. That means no Ovi wearing a hat with a Canadian flag, no Ovi swimming on the ice, and no players just trying not to get injured. Across the pond in the KHL, however, things are going on as planned. Actually, better than planned with the addition of some Russian NHL stars like Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk.
For Evgeny Kuznetsov, the game is also somewhat of a dream come true — it’s being held in his native Cheylabinsk. And on Saturday, the 20-year-old Washington Capitals prospect played a big role in the KHL Skills Competition.
Video is below the jump.
Coming into the season, Evgeny Kuznetsov was persona non grata to Caps fans. The talented 20-year-old winger shunned the NHL for a second time, deciding to stay with Traktor Cheylabinsk for another two years. But with time comes perspective. That decision has proven to be wise, as the NHL lockout has already wiped out half of this season with no signs of ending.
By staying in Russia, Kuznetsov gets to enjoy the KHL All-Star game being held in his hometown of Chelyabinsk. Last week, Kuznetsov was voted in as a starter for the second straight year by fans. And the KHL this weekend debuted a commercial promoting the game featuring Chelyabinsk’s favorite son.
Evgeny Kuznetsov is introduced to the crowd. (Photo credit: KHL All-Star Game site)
Our all-Evgeny Kuznetsov/all-the-time policy continues with this contractually obligated recap of the 2012 KHL All-Star Game and SuperSkills competition held in Riga, Latvia, on Saturday.
Kuznetsov nearly won in both the Fastest Skater and Breakaway Challenge. He also tallied a goal and an assist for Team Fedorov in their 15-11 win over Team Ozolins during the All-Star Game.
Below the jump, we’ve recapped our favorite moments from the the KHL’s signature event.
All photos via the KHL’s Facebook Fan Page.
On Saturday, the KHL will host their 3rd annual All-Star Game in Riga, Latvia. Former Washington Capital Sergei Fedorov will be captaining one team at the game — a team that includes Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has 16G and 15A as of the All-Star break, leading Traktor Chelyabinsk in scoring. Kuznetsov was nominated as a starter for the game by a landslide fan vote, finishing second overall in all voting.
Ahead of the KHL’s All-Star Game, Fedorov spoke to Sport Express’ Dmitry Kuznetsov about Kuznetsov. Below the jump, Igor Kleyner offers a translation of the interview, where former Cap Fedorov talks Kuznetsov’s scoring, overwhelming fan popularity, and offers some perspective on the choice that’s coming up for Kuznetsov — whether to continue to play in the KHL, or make the jump to the NHL.
The 42-year-old future Hall of Famer also participated in a highly silly photoshoot to promote the All-Star Game, along with the other team captain and former NHLer Sandis Ozolins, which we’ve preserved here in a post for historical purposes. Please enjoy.
Caps prospect and cupake-connoisseur Evgeny Kuznetsov won this year’s KHL Breakaway Challenge by using some Ovechkin-esque moves on future NHL HOF goaltender Dominik Hasek. The video of it can be seen above. If I had to pick my own personal favorite breakaway, I’d choose Kuznetsov’s second attempt where he juggled the puck down the ice mid-air with his stick, threw it over Hasek’s head in reaction to The Dominator trying to tackle him, and then skated himself and the puck into the goal. All with only a spotlight on him! Kuzya, who also had a goal and four assists in Team Jagr’s 18-16 victory over Team Yashin, was the youngest player ever to play in the KHL All-Star Game at 18-years old. The future for this young Russian is certainly bright! The only question I have is: will Kuzya’s hot-streak ever end?
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