In Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s December article in the Players’ Tribune, we learned how he first fell in love with hockey, how YouTube influenced his game, and how different Russian hockey is from the NHL. But the part of that story that stood out most to us were Kuznetsov’s interactions with former Capitals forward Alex Semin.
Semin, we learned, used to live in an apartment above Kuznetsov’s hockey school and used to skate with the young Kuznetsov, eight years his junior. In the years since, Semin’s fondness for Kuznetsov has not waned.
Couple guys who were older than me, they live in an apartment above our hockey school. One guy was Alex Semin. When I see him play for the first time, his skill was unbelievable. I’m like, Wow, I got to learn from this guy. So I started hanging out with him all the time, because we both obsessed with hockey.
The big problem was the rink was closed at night. We still want to skate. But I came up with a plan with Semin.
We would save some money and go buy some Coca-Cola and take it to the security guard as a little gift, and he would open the gate for us. So we got to skate all alone. It was unbelievable. This was important time. After 15, 16 years old, no one can teach you skill anymore. When you are young, it’s automatic. That’s when you need to learn skill.
Semin now plays for the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk after he was cut by the Montreal Canadiens in December. Earlier this week, Semin, who has five goals in 18 games, was asked by SportsDaily.ru’s Olesya Usova about Kuznetsov’s Players’ Tribune article.
Evgeny Kuznetsov recently wrote an article for an American media outlet. There is a bit about you — how you went to the rink together.
Alex Semin: Yes, it’s true, when we were little. I lived in the arena. He would come by, and we always played in the evening. There were a lot of us doing that.
Did you really bribe the security guard with soft drinks to get on the ice?
Alex Semin: With all kinds of stuff. We needed to skate. So we were doing all kinds of tricks to get on the ice.
They say Kuznetsov would literally never leave the ice…
Alex Semin: That is true. You can see it in his game in the NHL now. I never doubted him. I am very glad he found himself in the NHL and became one of the best players in the world. Even when he was a kid, you could see he’d end up playing at the highest level.
Sasha definitely cares about Kuznetsov.
Translation by Igor Kleyner
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