Photo: Sergei Belski
After the Capitals defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 Friday, Sovetsky Sport’s Leonid Varshavsky spoke to Caps rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov. The talented forward, scratched for the first time in his NHL career that night, spoke about his relationship with Barry Trotz and how he’s been adapting to life in America.
All in all, you see a player who readily admits that he still has a lot to learn before he becomes a great player in the NHL. “The hockey is different,” Kuznetsov says. “I understand now that you can’t compare KHL and NHL. It’s entirely different.”
“There’s little use for what you learned in the KHL,” he added. “You learn everything from scratch.”
RMNB’s Fedor Fedin has your translation below.
Zhenya, for the first time in your NHL career you were a healthy scratch. Was [sitting out] difficult?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: It was unclear at first. I didn’t know what to do. But most importantly, Washington won. I had a talk with the coach and he said: “You did nothing wrong. We just have a lot of competition for the line-up spots. And that’s just the way that situation ended up…”
I think competition is good. I didn’t play now, but I’ll get my chance. I’ll try to prove myself, why not? That’s why I come to the NHL, to battle and learn to play this way.
Here in the NHL, half of your salary is spent on taxes. Yet everyone is still trying to make it in this league.
EK: I wouldn’t say that everyone does. But many do, especially Europeans. The hockey is different. I understand now that you can’t compare KHL and NHL. It’s entirely different!
EK: A different approach. There’s little use for what you learned in the KHL. You learn everything from scratch.
After you signed a contract with Washington in March, did you change your off-season preparation?
EK: I didn’t know how to prepare the first time. I worked with the club trainer, defenseman John Carlson worked out with us too. I feel good physically.
What do you think about Washington? In the end, it’s a capital.
EK: I like everything. It’s a good city. It’s unusual because there are no tall buildings downtown. Everything is small and old. And that’s what makes it beautiful. Also, there are great fans here.
How is the food?
EK: Well, I’m married; my wife cooks. Of course, it’s nothing like my mom’s home dishes when we’re on the road trips in the restaurants. But it’s tasty.
Are there any Russian stores?
EK: Yeah, three or four. There are Russian restaurants too. And my wife cooks often.
Is it hard for her when you’re on the road?
EK: It’s hard because we didn’t change only the city, but also a country. We left all our friends in Chelyabinsk. But we’re getting used to it. Sasha Ovechkin helps out and all other Russian-speaking guys too.
How is Dima Orlov’s health? Capitals defenseman sustained serious hand injury at the World Championship.
EK: He’s alright. He’s been practicing for awhile now. I can’t say when exactly when he will join our team, but he plays better and better every day.
What is your relationship with coach Barry Trotz? He sings your praises. He says he likes Kuznetsov and that guy has a big future.
EK: I think every coach says it about every his player. It’s very pleasant. But I feel responsibility. I need to play up to those loud words. And it’s all up to me and no one else. If I score and play well — it will all work out. But most importantly is to execute what coach tells you. We all understand that you may score in every game, but if you don’t execute the game plan, it’s bad. That’s what I need to work on.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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