Evgeny Kuznetsov was a child prodigy at hockey. In 2015, we learned through a Players’ Tribune article that Kuzy first gravitated to the sport due to goal celebrations.
“I tell you one of my very first memories,” he said then. “My dad take me to the rink, and I see this older guy score goal, and he do a really cool celebration. Slide around on his knees, you know? I say to myself, ‘I want to do that. This looks so fun.'”
In a new video for the Capitals, Kuznetsov cites his proximity to a local ice skating rink for how he developed his otherworldly skill.
“In Chelyabinsk, hockey’s more than life for people here,” Kuznetsov said. “When I was young, my mom bring me to the hockey school. Our apartment was literally one minute away from the rink My mom chooses hockey because it’s the closest. I grow up in the rink. I was there for like almost 15, 14 hours a day. I spend more time at the rink than I spend in the bed. Every security guy, the people that take care of the rink, they all know me.”
He added, “My mom always said, ‘If you don’t want to go to school, go to hockey school. Skip the school, go play some hockey game.’ That’s the biggest thing.”
Kuznetsov was so good that at age 12, he was considered the top player in Russia in his age group and was featured in Dave Bidini’s film “Hockey Nomad.”
“My father teach me a lot, how to play hockey a little bit,” Kuznetsov said. “I wish I could ask some of his friends the way he play because he never share with me the moment. I not even know how he played hockey but some of his friends say he very skilled player.”
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Kuznetsov would later play for his hometown Traktor Chelyabinsk, becoming a multiple-time KHL All-Star and earning a reputation of being the best player outside the NHL.
“I was not even speak English and some people from Boston College call me,” Kuznetsov said. “Wanna come to University. I’m from Russia. Easy guys. I don’t need the college.”
Eventually, Kuzy would move to the NHL where he became the top center of a Stanley Cup championship team. For his day with the Stanley Cup, he brought the championship trophy back to his hometown.
“My family is everything for me,” Kuznetsov said. “I think the thank you is not enough. You actually have to do something for them. The only thing you can do is spend time with them. That’s the best way to say thanks. To share some moments. You can say a lot of words but if you not gonna do anything in the real life, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Screenshot courtesy of @Capitals
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