Evgeny Kuznetsov was back in his old barn this weekend, watching his former Traktor Chelyabinsk compete in the KHL’s Chelyabinsk Governor’s Cup.
The preseason game concluded with a shootout after Traktor handily defeated Lada Togliatti 3-0 to win the tournament. Noted slo-mo specialist Kuznetsov pulled out the props to egg on his former team from the stands, ringing a bell before Traktor forward Maxim Shabanov’s attempt.
It’s not clear where the bell came from or why he had it, but Kuzy’s good luck charm seemed to work.
— Hockey News Hub (@HockeyNewsHub) August 26, 2023
Shabanov decided against Kuznetsov’s classic shootout move, instead mimicking Nikita Kucherov’s no-move move to slide the puck under Lada’s Vladislav Podyapolsky. Kucherov first scored with the maneuver in 2017 agains the Buffalo Sabres, later confirming the move was intentional.
Traktor general manager Alexey Volkov took time to compliment Kuznetsov during a press conference on Friday, noting that the Capitals forward has spent time with the club over the offseason.
“We would very much like to involve Kuznetsov to work with the team, he is an unusually positive person,” Volkov said, as transcribed by Sports.ru and translated by Google Translate. ”He was not allowed to train with us, but on some free days, he was next to the team. He charged with positive energy, the right message.
He concluded his quote with a question.
“How can [Kuzy] be a simple and positive person even with such a resume, with such a bank account and still want to develop, to be on top?”
Kuznetsov spent seven years in the Traktor Chelyabinsk organization before joining the NHL in 2014. He also helped former Capital Zach Fucale signing with the club this summer, recommending the goaltender to the team and talking with him about the possible move. Fucale earned a shutout in Saturday’s game, stopping all 23 of Lada’s shots.
Though Kuznetsov has been the subject of trade rumors through much of the offseason, Volkov shut down any suggestion he could return to the KHL this season.
“What’s the noise?” Volkov said. ”He has a valid (NHL) contract, you can see what the amount is. Equivalent to today’s dollar rate — this is the entire ceiling of salaries in the KHL, probably.”
At the tail end of his career, however, Volkov would love to see Kuznetsov eventually back in Chelyabinsk.
“We hope that his return to the club will happen someday.”
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