“It’s Nice to Be Back On The Ice With The Guys “: Evgeny Kuznetsov Talks COVID-19, Return to Team Activities, and More

After being reinstated along with goaltender Ilya Samsonov from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov spoke with the media via teleconference call on his experience away on the protocol list, returning to hockey activities, and more on Monday morning.

Kuznetsov, who was one of four Capitals placed on the protocol list on January 20, 2021, was initially supposed to be out for four games. However, he returned to skating today, and has yet to see game action. When asked how he felt physically and if he felt game-ready, he replied, “I’m getting better everyday, it’s nice to be back on the ice with the guys…it’s been a long time without skating, I’ve been missing it a little bit…I don’t know, we’re day-to-day and I’m just happy to be alive today and being able to practice with the teammates, it’s a big step for me”. Kuznetsov also added that being alone and not being able to be around others was tough, as he is a “very social person”.

When asked by The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir what the biggest challenge has been for him since returning, the former first-round pick (26th overall in 2010) responded, “I think it’s tough to lose the hands for a couple weeks, it’s just conditioning probably and to be able to breathe nice on the ice, and as soon as you lose wind, it’s not easy to get back on the ice right away”. On whether he was surprised by his placement on the protocol list, Kuznetsov answered that, “No, no, that’s life right? When we entered the season we expect that something was going to happen and we were ready for some type of situation like that. I’m not saying I was surprised but it was just life and we have to go through some type of situation like that.

When pressed about his symptoms and his feelings during his time away, Kuznetov quipped that dealing with the virus is “not fun and not easy” and that he is understanding of what others who have dealt with the same situation have gone through. On whether he was scared during his two weeks away, Kuznetsov replied, “No, I’m from Russia, there’s not a lot that can scare me”.

Kuznetsov also added that he was unable to participate or undergo any sort of conditioning during his time away from the team, saying he did, “Absolutely nothing, yesterday was the first day I did something”.

The Capitals are next in action on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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