Saturday morning, Caps Russians Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov arrived safely in Germany, ahead of their participation in the 2017 World Championship.
This year, unlike in years past, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin will not play in the tournament due to injuries he suffered during the playoffs.
In an impromptu press conference just outside the doors of the airport, Kuznetsov, wearing his goal digger hoodie, spoke to Russian language reporters about the Russian national team and the Capitals failed postseason run.
“Nothing was even about [Game Seven],” Kuznetsov said as translated by Igor Kleyner. “It’s difficult to even… We had played 12 games prior to that one: six against Toronto, and six against Pittsburgh, and were in control every one of those, had a lot of chances. But the seventh game, it was like a different team came out to play. We need to understand why and how it happened.”
Did you come here to win the World Championship?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Can there possibly be a different objective?”
You just had a difficult series against Pittsburgh, didn’t turn out great, not the best emotional situation, how are you going to resolve such problems?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “When you are called up to the Sbornaya (the Russian National Team), you don’t think about those things. Obviously we are upset, but as I said, when we enter the locker room, we cannot show that, because the guys here, maybe someone had a difficult year, and someone else won the cup, but for as long as we are playing in the Worlds, you have to focus on playing for Sbornaya. And if in our situation there were some kind of injury, or family circumstances, we wouldn’t come here. But we didn’t show up here to be passengers, we are here to play for our country.”
But in the same contract situation as Radulov, who didn’t come… You have no contract, Orlov has no contract, is that a risk?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Everybody’s situation is different. The season went differently for everybody. As long as I am healthy, as soon as they called me, I made the decision right away. I like the style of hockey we play, and also, it’s that I miss it, but… I like it, I enjoy watching it on TV, and many of the guys here I played with for U-20 team.”
There is a chance you’ll be playing on a flank. How ready are you to change your position?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Well, flanks you have in a war, we say a winger, right? [laughing] It doesn’t matter, wherever I am told to play, I’ll play there.”
[Shevchenko quizzes Kuzy on which teams are on the same group as Russia; Kuzy names every team correctly]
That picture of Ovechkin with a huge bruise on his thigh on Twitter – is it for real, or a fake?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Well, a bruise is a bruise. I don’t think he wants to talk about it much. Usually you don’t advertise your injuries. I know if he could come here at all, he would definitely be here.”
How is the situation with your contract? Are there any negotiations?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Nothing new. It’s not the right time to talk about it. I am not concerned about it at all. There is an agent who takes care of this kind of stuff. My job is to play hockey.”
Speaking of contract, are you only considering NHL, or is there any possibility, even half a percent, especially considering the Olympics…
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Well, [smiling] if it turns out i am not wanted there, I’ll have to return.”
About that 7th game against Pittsburgh, everybody asking… was it just an unlucky turn of events? The game was pretty even.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Nothing was even about that game. It’s difficult to even… We had played 12 games prior to that one: 6 against Toronto, and 6 against Pittsburgh, and were in control every one of those, had a lot of chances. But the seventh game, it was like a different team came out to play. We need to understand why and how it happened.”
Lots of talk in America that Washington needs a radical change, rebuild, that the team has hit the ceiling and can not go any higher.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “I spent a lot of time there, so it’s not up to me to make that judgement to change or not to change. Of course when a team is stopped at the same stage for a few years in a row, there have to be lessons learned. And first and foremost, it’s up to us the players to look at ourselves. They can come up with any game plan, show any video, but if we are going to come out and play the way we did in Game Seven – you can sign Bobby Orr and still, it’s on us.”
Headline photo: @a_rogulev.
S/T to SovSport for first posting the video. Translation by Igor Kleyner.
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