On Tuesday, Evgeny Kuznetsov and teammate Dmitry Orlov flew home to Russia. By Wednesday, Kuznetsov was already dishing to the Russian media.
While speaking with Moscow sports radio station 93.2 SportFM, Kuznetsov spoke about his first season playing under Barry Trotz and the differences between the NHL and KHL. He sounded like Christopher Columbus discovering a new world.
Igor Kleyner has your translation.
Kuznetsov on his first full season in the NHL:
It’s hard to say that I began a new life in the NHL. The season turned out to be long, but at the same time it flew by rather quickly. I think the next season will be more interesting, and then you can make certain conclusions. NHL is a different world for me, a different planet. I discovered a lot of new things. I don’t regret anything. It’s a personal choice, and anybody can try himself out here. A single season is not a good marker; a second one is needed for full adaptation. If you are a player at a good level, you have to play consistently. In my situation, there is room for growth. Higher. I have the next year composed in my head, and I think it will help me.
Kuznetsov explains how the NHL is different from the KHL:
Practices in the NHL are completely different. In how you train. For example, various small details – if your shot is not on goal, you do five pushups. You have to put the puck on goal consistently. So, during the game, we end up taking seven to ten shots on goal more [than the other team] and that is what helped us win. Training sessions vary greatly. Nobody yells at you, all instructions are given and explained before the practice. If you don’t follow instructions, you may be told once. Nobody is going to repeat anything twice. In the NHL, you are on your own a lot. You can design your own gym training program. I like the program our coach came up with for me. Recovery process and medicine are at a different level, although it seems that is at a higher level in the KHL. In Russia you get a lot of help with recovery, but in the NHL you have to solve that problem by yourself. You have to find a masseur by yourself. We try to visit a sauna and a masseur after a game. That is very important after hard games. If you don’t pay enough attention to recovery, the fatigue will accumulate. You have to pay attention to your health. If you don’t take care of it yourself, nobody is going to help you.
Kuznetsov on the NHL playoffs:
During the playoffs mistakes are kept to a minimum, the game speed and hitting are even at a lower level than during regular season, because of accumulated fatigue. Everybody tries to dump the puck into the zone and score. If in the KHL they try to create something, in the NHL they follow a simple route. Interactions with and understanding of your teammates is important. If you make a step sideways – the whole system comes apart. In my opinion, our guys have a hard time getting used to playing a system. In the NHL obedience is unconditional, you execute exactly as you were told. Everybody works for the win exactly the same. We are only moving towards that goal here. Our national team also looked good at the Worlds. There is progress every year, and it shows. When Bilyaletdinov became the head coach, look at how we started playing on defense. Tactically we are becoming more aware. In the NHL it’s a bit different – prior to every game, there is a personal review of all the players. You know who you are playing against. You review four-on-five, five-on-four, five-on-five. You know what your opponent is going to do. That element is still missing in Russia.
Kuznetsov on the Stanley Cup Final between the Lightning and Blackhawks:
As of now, Tampa is a very serious team. Their coach came from their minor league team, and brought a lot of young players with him; that tells you he trusts the youngsters. The young guys become their team’s leaders, and they get paid accordingly. They take care of the players, help them grow – that’s why they are such a good team. As far as Chicago vs Tampa – it’s hard to say. Chicago is a very good team, and it will be difficult to beat them. They have a lot of experience, including playing in seven-game series.
If you have an opportunity, and you are invited to go to the NHL, why not try yourself there. You can always come back. You discover a new side of life. I support all of our guys who are trying to make it in North America.
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