Ever since the Capitals drafted Evgeny Kuznetsov in the 2010 draft, the young Russian has tried to emulate Russian NHL superstars. One of those superstars is 37-year-old magic man Pavel Datsyuk, whom Kuznetsov will face tonight in Detroit.
“I can’t compare myself to any famous player because he’s already been playing, already accomplished something,” an 18-year-old Kuznetsov said to RMNB at the Capitals’ 2010 Development Camp. “I can only say who I admire, who I watch. I watch Malkin, Datsyuk, how they play, and try to do the same.”
Three years later, during an interview with the local Chelyabinsk web magazine Slovo, Kuznetsov said he voted for Datsyuk for the NHL14 cover.
“He may not score 100 goals a year, but when he’s out on the ice, he just humiliates you,” Kuznetsov said. “He sees everything, he can tie his opponent’s shoelaces with one hand. It seems like he never even gets tired. I was happy to play against him [in the KHL during the 2012 NHL lockout], and it was a real honor to play with him [on Team Russia].”
On Friday, Datsyuk returned to the Red Wings’ line-up after missing the first five weeks of the season due to offseason ankle surgery. Datsyuk, who has yet to score a point in three games, played on Detroit’s top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.
Kuznetsov talked about playing against one of his idols before boarding a flight to Detroit on Tuesday.
“I will be excited to play against Pavel and see how he plays,” Kuznetsov said to CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley. “How he can play in the back end is fun to watch but it’s also lots of work. He can do it all. Win faceoffs, play D zone, he can be hard guy, he can hit you. He can do everything on the ice and you have to work hard to beat him.”
“I’m too far from him and I have to work every day,” he continued. “I may never be like Pavel, but I want to be and have some of his skills.”
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