Evgeny Kuznetsov has emerged as one of the elite centers in the NHL the past couple of years. He just signed an 8-year contract worth $62.4 million a few weeks ago. Kuznetsov, 25, talked about his new contract and more with Alexey Shevchenko of Russia’s Sports Express.
“I’m not one who will calm down having received a big contract,” said Kuznetsov. But the long term deal wasn’t just about the money for the Russian stick wizard: “This contract is not only about the money, but also the trust that Washington gives me. They count on me, but the responsibility will be different. But I don’t know any good hockey players would avoid it. Everybody wants to have more responsibility,” Kuznetsov said.
Kuznetsov said that the Capitals played “a little bit better” in last year’s second round exit to the Pittsburgh Penguins than in the 2016 playoff exit. “We were close to getting through Pittsburgh, … in the first matches, we outplayed the opponent, but lost … I do not know what happened in the seventh match.”
He also feels like the Capitals have gotten stronger mentally after the loss in Game 7 to the Penguins last May. Asked if the Caps should hold back during the regular season after winning two President’s Trophies, but failing to win the Cup, Kuznetsov pushed back. “We must win always and everywhere. Yes, it’s impossible to win all the time, but our rivals should be happy when they beat us. We must let everyone know that to defeat us is an achievement.” He is hungry to play more and didn’t want Washington’s season to end where it ended.
When asked about Alex Ovechkin, Kuznetsov sounded confident about the Great 8 this year. “He’ll score 50 goals,” Kuznetsov said. He scoffed at the idea that Ovechkin plays badly in the most important games. “What are you talking about? Yes, he may have played differently in the playoffs, but don’t forget that Ovechkin played with an injury.”
Kuznetsov thinks that if someone makes mistakes like Ovechkin did in Game 7 last May, the team has to step up and cover that part of the ice. “Where were the rest of the attackers, when we lost in the series?” “I do not think that Ovechkin had an unsuccessful season,” he insisted.
Kuznetsov said that the Capitals’ captain will return to form after a reporter said he thought Ovi was overweight in his wedding photos. “Ovechkin works very hard. I know his personal trainer, I know how much work he does,” Kuznetsov noted. “Normally Alexander is preparing.”
When talking about the World Championships, where Kuznetsov normally goes after the season ends, he said “I just saw strong coaches. They do not behave themselves that way – all people are different.” Kuznetsov describes the Russian national team as being part of a family. He said that he wants to go to the national team and that he was invited to come be apart of Team Russia for the Olympics.
It was rumored that Kuznetsov was offered $10 million per year for two years to return to the KHL, and he knows that he had to give up a lot. “I know the value of money, I earned it honestly, I had to sacrifice a lot.”
After the Game
Kuznetsov also said that after the retires from the NHL, he wants to go back to his hometown of Chelyabinsk and help out with an orphanage. “I do not have the opportunity to help everyone. But here are the people who need a helping hand. …I want to build a children’s school here. I’ll start small. I will open a center, a place where boys will practice technical skills. I hope that I’ll persuade my father to work with the guys.” He describes his father as the one who taught him everything and laid the foundations for him.
Kuznetsov will hire everyone who will work for the orphanage after his hockey career. He will be looking for not just those who are experienced, but those who have certain technical skills to teach the boys. He is planning to devote a lot of time to the boys to show, tell, and practice some technical actions.
Later, he wants to make it like a complex like those he has seen in his travels around the world, with three rinks and a café where parents can watch their kids play so they don’t have to stand by the ice. He wants to have a team that can play there and he wants a facility where athletes with disabilities will be the center of attention.
Finally, Kuznetsov said he dreams of coming home after retirement and building “a big house on the river bank, where all of my relatives would meet.”
The full article can be accessed here:
By Harrison Brown