Photo credit: Greg Flume

The final day of media availability is often referred to by reporters as the longest day of the year — and probably the least enjoyable. The news about Dale Hunter deciding to go back to his digs in London created a lot of buzz, and stories were told– like about how Jay Beagle tried to put his skates on over his swollen, broken foot before Game Six. But the general mood was one of somber –- not surprising, given how close the team came to Eastern Conference Finals.

The Capitals have a handful of free agents to deal with during this offseason, but none of them are as high-profile or as controversial as Alexander Semin. Will he bolt for the riches of the KHL, sign with another NHL team –- or return to the Capitals? I didn’t expect a straight answer to the question, so we just talked about… well, whatever he wanted. That includes Hunter hockey vs. Boudreau’s open style, the success of Braden Holtby, and his ice time.

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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.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov speeds down the middle during Traktor’s game against Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk (Photo credit: Vitaly Gubin, Traktor PR Service)

Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, currently sitting in the top 15 in both goals and points (12g, 12a), was named a KHL All-Star for the second time on Monday. Unlike last season, Kuznetsov was overwhelmingly voted in as a starter this year by fans and will represent “Team Fedorov” of the Eastern conference. The 19-year-old Traktor Chelyabinsk forward finished second overall in total votes (33,800), trailing only Mikelis Redlihs of the Western Conference’s “Team Ozolins.”

To put Kuznetsov’s immense popularity in perspective, consider that he garnered more votes than reigning MVP Alexander Radulov, Roman Cervenka (the KHL’s leading scorer), Vladimir Tarasenko, and Russian National Team Captain Alexei Morozov.

Recently, Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov did a lengthy feature story on Kuznetsov, who some have called the new face of the KHL. Like most interviews with Russian players, the story starts off with questions about Vityaz Chekhov, who was recently beaten by Traktor on the scoreboard and tried to beat them back with their fists.

Most importantly to Caps fans, Kuznetsov discussed his possible NHL future, his contract situation, and who he idolized as a kid. Below the jump, I have the translation.

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Winter is Coming in 22 Days

Alex Ovechkin Sergei Fedorov

Photo credit: Nick Wass

Editor’s note: To get you properly revved up for the season, each member of the RMNB crew will take a longing look back at some of our favorite goals from days gone by. You can call it nostalgia or cheap summer content, but it’s really a reminder: WINTER IS COMING.

I’m the young one, so allow me to use recent history.

It was April of 2009. With the Capitals making the playoffs for the second year in a row, I decided to give this hockey thing a shot. Up until then, baseball had always been my sport.

After enjoying a couple games on TV, I got tickets to Game 2 of Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Rangers. 60 minutes of play later, I was hooked. Really hooked. The Caps were shut out 1-0, but the excitement, the speed, the gritty beauty of game had me. So I got tickets again. This time: Game 7, 7PM April 28.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov Gold Medal

Despite winning gold at the World Junior Championships and putting up one of the best years ever recorded by a 18-year-old in Russia, Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov spent most of last year playing through pain. The reason? A nagging shoulder injury that never completely healed after offseason surgery.

So Kuznetsov, who revealed to reporters in December that he struggled doing push-ups, flew back to Germany and went under the knife again in April. Thirteen and a half weeks later — with a renegotiated contract with Traktor and wife in hand — Kuznetsov seems optimistic of a full recovery.’s Andrey Osadchenko recently spoke with the now 19-year-old and the two discussed a variety of topics. Most notably for Caps fans, Kuznetsov said that he has been looking at real estate in the D.C. area and plans to play for the Capitals in 2012-13.

Below, RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov

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 raises his arms to Traktor fans during a post-game celebration routine. See our video below to see what we mean.

Kuznetsov gestures to Traktor fans during a post-game celebration. See the video below for more.

During the 2010 NHL Entry Draft on June 26th, General Manager George McPhee had his sights set on one player. In his eagerness, he even tried to trade away a prospect for a move up ten spots in the first round to get his man. That would prove to be unnecessary.

Evgeny Kuznetsov fell 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.

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Ovechkin Checks Fedorov

Alex Semin cries after receiving his silver medal.

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.

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For those who missed Thursday’s Russia/Canada game at the World Championships, here’s two videos of major interest via our great friend Dmitry who some of you may know as R17a on twitter:

The Brooks Laich Bodycheck on Alex Ovechkin That Started a Brawl

Sergei Fedorov’s Second Career Fight Against Steve Downie

God, I hate Downie.


Dear God, the Russian Machine does bleed red blood like the rest of us.

Dear God, the Russian Machine does bleed red blood like the rest of us.

The wounds from the Caps’ round-one playoff loss are still raw, but we are on the mend.  The downtrodden leader of the Caps’, Alex Ovechkin, has linked up with his countrymen to mend some of those wounds.  The world championships began this weekend in Cologne, Germany, reuniting Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov, and Alex Semin with their former teammates, Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov.  Today’s match found the Capitals Russians facing off against the Slovakians, coached by former Caps benchmaster, Glen Hanlon.

The Russian goalie,  massive Vasili Kosechkin, did not face a flurry of pucks until late in the second period.  When the Slovaks finally mounted their offensive attacks, a sneaky wrister from former Capitals farmhand Ivan Majesky threatened to start a scoring spree.  The Russians managed to hold off the Slovaks’ recovery, earning them a first round win– Alex Ovechkin’s first in four games.

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Viktor Fedorov: “The Caps Didn’t Have a Good Centerman”

Sergei Fedorov's Dad Victor, sits with Alex Ovechkin at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics

Viktor Fedorov, a honoured Coach of Russia and the father of Future Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov, recently sat down with Russian Sports Radio and explained his reasons for why he thought the Capitals failed in the first round of the playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens. Lucky for us, transcribed the interview and our own Fedor Fedin translated it. Let us know what you think of his opinions in the comments below!

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