Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov showed support to his hometown KHL team — Traktor Chelyabinsk — in a big way once again on Friday. The former KHL superstar bought shirts and posters for all 7,500 fans in attendance at the Traktor-Avangard game.
The shirts read in Russian Thanks, Chelyabinsk! When we are together, we cannot be defeated! It also included the message ALL IN! in English as well as his signature.
Форвард "Вашингтона" Евгений Кузнецов подарил футболки всем болельщикам своего экс-клуба "Трактор", пришедшим на игру с "Авангардом" pic.twitter.com/7BpRmw1nDj
— Матч ТВ (@MatchTV) October 28, 2016
Friday night, Kuznetsov retweeted this Match TV tweet which had details about his generous gifts.
Before the game started, there was, as the Russian sports site Championat termed, a flash mob, where the arena lights were turned off and fans turned their phones on. According to Traktor Chelyabinsk’s website, the purpose “was to combine the hearts of fans and help the team win against a difficult opponent.”
Traktor refers to the fan celebration as the “Starry Sky.” It was first done during Traktor’s November 25, 2015, game against Metallurg Magnitogorsk in memory of Head Coach Valery Belousov. Belousov, who coached and mentored Kuznetsov for several seasons, tragically died in a car accident in April 2015.
While Kuznetsov left Russia in 2014 to start his NHL career in Washington, part of his heart has remained in Chelyabinsk. Kunetsov has continued to come to games as a fan during the offseason.
Kuznetsov also married his wife Nastya at the Traktor Ice Arena. As a goodbye gift to his club, Kuznetsov presented a zamboni to Traktor’s hockey academy after skating with its students. According to Sovetsky Sport, the gift’s value is at least 4 million roubles (approximately $100,000).
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