Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov spoke to reporters on Saturday for the first time since testing positive for cocaine. Hours removed from his first career NHL suspension— a three-game ban — Kuznetsov, wearing a long grey sweatshirt, opened up about the most challenging time of his career.
“It was a pretty hard summer for me,” Kuznetsov admitted.
“I want to move forward, and the one thing I can do best is play hockey,” he added. “I feel bad for my friends, for my teammates, for the organization, for the fans that they have to deal with this news. But I will pay back more than people give me right now.”
Kuzy, what was your reaction to the three-game suspension handed down today.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “I agree to get suspended and I don’t have anything to add the statement I just released. I want to say thanks to this organization, to PA (Players’ Association), to the NHL for their support, and the fans, there’s a lot of people who is supporting me, you know? I’m gonna appreciate it and be the hockey player. The only chance I can say thanks to them is prove on the ice then growing as a person. I want to get better and I’m gonna learn from this for sure.”
What do you feel like you’ve learned this summer?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “I learned how to be father of the two child. You know, I got the born baby three months ago and you know, and I stay off the social media a little bit. I spend more time with my family, with the kids, and you know, I just try and focus more on the practice and it’s been kind of hard to prove some people something when you in the summer because we don’t have a hockey game. The only thing I can do best is play hockey.”
Kuzy, is this in your mind a one-time occurrence, a one-=time mistake, or do you have a problem?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “I think said everything in the statement already, and like I said I want to move forward. I want to say more than thanks to my teammates and the organization for their support, but there is not a word in the language that means more than thanks, right, but I can do more, prove that there was a support for a reason to be downtown every night and do my best for the team.”
Kuzy, how do you stay on the right path now going forward?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “That’s easy. I mean, you know? There is some people look for maturation right in their life and there is always challenges in your life, and for me this opportunity is really clear and I can prove a lot of people and I’m feeling pretty good there.”
I know you said the other day maybe you have to earn back the trust of your teammates and maybe you address the team. Have you done that?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “I think that stays in the kitchen, whatever I’m gonna tell the team, and whatever I did already. You know me, I’m not a bad guy. So I’m always worry if I did – with a mistake during the game, I always worry about little things. Like I said, I really appreciate the support even the people who put some negative stuff I still appreciate it because their opinion is very important for me also right now.
Kuzy, did any off-ice issues affect your on-ice performance last year?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “No, probably not. I mean, of course after 70 points, bad year, I look for to bounce back, right, you know? I look forward to this year and there is a lot of things I can do on the ice. There is not much I can do off the ice to say thanks to people who is supporting me.”
How disappointing is it to miss the opener, miss the home opener – big games early in the year?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “I accept what the penalty is for me just to move forward and forget about everything that is happening before. It was a pretty hard summer for me. I been dreaming about the first day of the camp so I can be with the team, so I can send a message by my body language to all the people. Whatever is happen in your life, you still respect the people and you treat the people with respect.”
Was this difficult when you got the news about the failed test and having to kind of face up to some things with the people here, with your family, anything like that – was that difficult to deal with?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “There are a lot of people who supported me and everything that happened in my life. But that was a pretty hard summer for me, but you know me. I always handle it and whatever is happen in my life I always look forward and I think that my wife delivered the second child for me that was like, huge in the summer because I did spend a lot of times to play with the kids this summer. I stay off the media, stay off the social media, and just lock myself in a dream and just enjoy this time.”
Was it your idea to delete the social media?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Yeah. Yeah, I mean -”
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “I don’t know, it just feels like spend a lot of time over there – see bunches of pictures or whatever, and get so addicted to some comments to people, you know. Like I said, I was focusing more on spending time with the family and the kids, and just get away from that and it’s actually pretty nice to stay away from that. Once in a while, I do get – open some news, some – whatever ESPN, just to check some score, but pretty much I was off the social media all summer.”
Do you feel like it’s been easier to move forward now that training camp has started and the focus is now on hockey?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Yeah there is. I’ve been dreaming about the first day of camp because you know, it’s kind of hard to practice by yourself. All the talks around it, it’s hard to prove something in life, be the hockey player. The only thing I can do best is to play hockey. After pretty disappointing season, 70 points, I’m looking for bounce back.”
Ovi said he called you, what’s been the support from your teammates, how have they helped?
Evgeny Kuznetsov:“I would like to share that, but like I said, that’s more private information. For me, it means a lot that people actually send a message, say something. I’m not a bad person. I always remember the things that people did good for me, when I’m the best player or not the best player. It’s still, the way that people treat me, I’m going to give them back more than they give me.”
Are you going to miss playing for Team Russia?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Yeah, but like I said, I want to move forward. Whatever is happen, I can not change anything.”
After the video was posted on social media, your statement said you’d never used drugs. Do you regret some of how that was worded on your part?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “That’s a ‘next question’ you know? I’m sorry, but I cannot add anything more. I want to move forward and the one thing I can do best is play hockey. I feel bad for my friends and my teammates, for the organization and the fans, that they have to deal with this news. But I will pay back more than what they give me right now.”
Do you feel you have to change how you approach this upcoming season?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “No. Like I said, all I want to change is to bounce back from 70 points [season].”
Did you have a [baby] boy or girl?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Thank you for asking. Boy. Fedor. And he’s not going to be professional athlete. He’ll probably be one of you guys (the press). I need some friends on your side.”
What was the inspiration for the name?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: “There were a couple choices. You know how wives always figure it out. And I kind of like the name Fedor. Pretty traditional Russian name. My daughter also has a pretty traditional Russian name, it’s not easy to pronounce here in the US.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.