Kuznetsov smiles during the weekend of his wedding. (Photo credit: Chelyabinsk.ru)
If you’re a loyal reader of RMNB, you know a lot about Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov. You know he’s won a gold medal at last year’s WJC, he currently leads the KHL in game-winning goals, and he had one of the best years ever recorded last season as an 18-year-old in Russia. You’ve seen the movie he starred in when he was 12, Hockey Nomad Goes To Russia, and you giggled when you saw pictures from his wedding this past summer at Traktor Arena.
In part two of our monster translation of Soviet Sport’s feature story on Kuzya, Pavel Lysenkov asks some more personal questions. [Read part one of the interview.] We find out why Kuznetsov picked number 92, what Alex Ovechkin gave him as a wedding present, and what he was like as a child in school. Evgeny also makes many more references to Washington and how he’s preparing to uproot his life at some point and come to North America.
Pavel Lysenkov: Did you pick your jersey number 92 to honor the year when you were born?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No. When The MHL’s White Bears started, they made the sweaters for us. Almost all of numbers were gone. The only ones left were numbers 90, 91 and 92. So some other guys who were a bit older took the other ones, and I got this one.
For Sbornaya, I wore 25 and 7. I also had 17. If I go to the NHL, I will take a different number. Which one? I am not telling you!
Pavel Lysenkov: When you were asked about the wedding date, you said June 3rd. Anything significant about that date?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: It just so happened to be a Friday. It’s more convenient to do it on a weekend. We had lots of people from Moscow, other cities. Everybody liked it.
Why did Ovechkin come to our wedding? Some friends were on vacation with him. They invited him to Chelyabinsk. I called him. “Sanya, come to our wedding. You’ll see our city.” We organized a tour for him, took him to the OMON shooting range.
I think Alex liked it. So did we. Everybody was chasing him: “Ovechkin’s in town!” In the streets people would stop him: “Oh, we know you!” Sanya enjoyed it. And then they would say “You are in that commercial!” Not everybody recognized him as a hockey player.
Pavel Lysenkov: Did he give you the most unusual wedding gift?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: He gave us a customary envelope with money. [Ed. Note: and now you know what to bring to a Russian wedding!] But the cossacks gave us a cedar tree. “A rare tree, on the Red List of Threatened Species.” So I said “Then where did you manage to get it?” – “No, no, everything is legit.”
My wife and I planted it. Now it’s growing in the yard in front of our building.
Pavel Lysenkov: You said: “The simpler the wedding, the better.” And then had it in Traktor’s hockey arena!
Evgeny Kuznetsov: That was decided two weeks before the ceremony. They kept trying to talk us into it. They treat me so well in Chelyabinsk, I could not refuse. And I did not regret it.
There had been no weddings in the Traktor’s arena before ours. But now there is a crazy wait list.
Pavel Lysenkov: How did you meet Nastia?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: She was taking her two brothers to the ChTZ hockey school – that’s where Chelyabinsk Palace of Children is.
I saw her there, but we did not really interact much. But two years later, during the summertime when I was in America, I sent her a message on VKontakte [Russian social media site]. We talked, the we started going out. Six months later I proposed.
Pavel Lysenkov: When you were just 18 years old?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I told my parents right away: “I am not going to mess around. I will decide right away on who I want to live with.” I am a one-woman man. And I want to build my family early. We already are thinking about children. We would like four! To gather them all in the evening. I’ll be sitting in a rocking chair with a cigar. Show them my medals, hockey sticks, gloves: “That’s your daddy!”
Pavel Lysenkov: When are you expecting your first?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: It will all be decided in the summer. If we leave for America, we’ll have a child right away. If we stay in Chelyabinsk, we’ll wait for awhile.
Pavel Lysenkov: Does Moscow shock you? Traffic jams, ruckus…
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I am used to it. I am in the capital so often, I am all right with all that. I am preparing myself for the life in a megalopolis if I am going to leave for Washington.
Now I understand why people live in Moscow. There is everything here. You want entertainment for your child – go watch the elephants standing on two legs and hula hooping. You want to buy wonderful candy that is not available anywhere – find it on the internet, and they will bring it to your home. You want toilet paper with your photo – there you go. In Moscow, there is everything you can wish for.
Pavel Lysenkov: A dream city?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: If I were to finish my career – in 20 years at the earliest! – I would move somewhere in Switzerland. I would build a house somewhere on a river bank. I would buy a yacht. I would sail and relax. Also, I would open a hockey school in Chelyabinsk. My wife and my children. I don’t need anything else.
Pavel Lysenkov: You don’t have to be in Switzerland to sail…
Evgeny Kuznetsov: They have a good climate. And no chance of a war. Would be foolish, the whole world keeps their money there.
Pavel Lysenkov: You are just like Vyacheslav Bykov. He was also born in Chelyabinsk, but lives in Switzerland.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Aha, exactly. I will never forget Chelyabinsk. It’s my home town.
Pavel Lysenkov: How did you do in school?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I was getting 3’s [Ed note – “3” is a “C”] just like everybody else. But no one was putting any pressure on us. They could see that we were tired after hockey. We were getting special treatment. Traktor’s Anton Burdasov is a year older than me. He was getting a 3 in biology for watering plants during classes. You can ask him – he walked around with a watering can!
I always had earphones on and sat in the back of the class. When there was something interesting, I would listen to the teacher. But if it’s chemistry, which I don’t understand at all?! The teacher was strict, she called us names. But you have to sit through the class for 45 minutes and write various nonsense in your notebook.
Pavel Lysenkov: How was your discipline?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Perfect. I behaved. If I skipped classes, I hung out in the cafeteria. My home room teacher would come down – Kuznetsov is eating with his friends. So, everything is all right.
Pavel Lysenkov: Where do you go to school now?
Pavel Lysenkov: You mentioned once that you drive Range Rover and Porsche…
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No. I sold my Porsche and bought a Range Rover for my wife. I drive an Audi R8. I believe you should buy good cars if your finances allow. Don’t try to economize. You have one life, live it well and don’t try to put all your money away in a treasure chest, so it can al turn into worthless paper later. It happened in the 90s. everything turned into candy wrappers.
I want to live well and enjoy it. Look at how much time I devote to hockey. I see nothing but pucks and sticks, my bed, and chicken with pasta. You have to relax. Give presents to your family and yourself.
Pavel Lysenkov: Do you ever catch anybody looking at you with envy, when you drive around relatively poor Chelyabinsk in your luxury car?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I wouldn’t say it’s a poor city. A lot of people know who is driving the car. My license tag number is 092. People smile, honk, give me thumbs up.
Pavel Lysenkov: Maradona used to say he never locked his car in Argentina – and no one tried to steal it. Would you do that?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: No way! I am not Maradona. I am Kuznetsov.
Pavel Lysenkov: Favorite music. Who would you like to see in concert?
Evgeny Kuznetsov:Philipp Kirkorov.
Pavel Lysenkov: Why?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I like his songs. Actually, I would like to go to disco Retro FM. I like old music, 80s and 90s.
Pavel Lysenkov: Radulov likes Valery Leontiev.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I was kidding about Kirkorov. I only like some of his songs.
Pavel Lysenkov: Favorite dish?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Russian cuisine. Pasta. But not Po Flotsky [Ed note: pasta with ground meat and onions].
Pavel Lysenkov: Drink?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Freshly squeezed orange juice.
Pavel Lysenkov: TV Series?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Realnye Patsany [Ed. Note – Real Kids, a Russian reality show parody)
Pavel Lysenkov: But you said you are friends with Stas Yarushin from Univer. [Ed. note: a Russian sitcom]
Evgeny Kuznetsov: He is the best! No contest. He is also from Chelyabinsk.
Pavel Lysenkov: What is your ringtone?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I change it every week.
Pavel Lysenkov: Actor?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Steven Seagal.
Pavel Lysenkov: Why?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: He is just a crazy person.
Pavel Lysenkov: A star athlete?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Not hockey, okay? Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. They broke all the unbreakable records.
Pavel Lysenkov: Favorite subject in school?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Music.
Pavel Lysenkov: Seriously?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Oh, how I sing! Always went to the grand piano. They were begging me “Kuznetsov, please shut up. Don’t ruin the song.” I have a horrible ear [Ed note: in Russian, “a bear stomped on my ear”]. But I sang anyway.
Pavel Lysenkov: What do you do in spare time?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I play NHL-2012. I always choose Washington. I sold every player already and bought all the new ones.
Pavel Lysenkov: Have you won the Stanley Cup yet?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Four times!
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.
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