Yevgeny Kuznetsov: ‘I wish I’d have more time for hockey’

Traktor’s seemingly in a bit of slump now, don’t you think?
Probably psychological. You can’t always win. Every team has a period of time when one game is right after another, plus training sessions, flights etc. Fatigue takes its toll as you can’t take a good rest. All we have to do now is get out of this slump as soon as possible. Believe me, we are constantly working to improve our game.

What’s the biggest difference between Traktor in 2011-2012 season and now?
We have become more confident; we’ve shown that we can win against any opponent. Plus we jumped right on the winning track in September and are reaping the rewards now.

Wanna show your new skates?
I haven’t used them yet; they are still in the locker room waiting for their chance.

Why does everybody have blue rugs while you have the one with World Championships emblem on it?
I’ve lost my blue rug, so I’m using this one.

Emotions always run high after victories

Soon Ufa is hosting U-20 World Cup. What chances do you think team Russia has?
Predictions are usually no good, so I’m not going to take chances. Of course everybody knows there is only place for our U-20 team, and that’s first. We are going to support our guys, and if something goes wrong, everyone has to be supportive and leave criticism until later.

Who do you think is going to take center stage in this team?
That would be Nail Yakupov. Besides, I for one hope that Shalunov, Nesterov and Nichushkin will be a part of the team. Besides, there’s another positive thing – this year team Canada will have several NHL U-20 players on the roster; it will be interesting to see what they are capable of.

Do you happen to know the differences in Valery Bragin’s and Mikhail Varnakov’s coaching approach?
During Subway Super Series I saw what Varnakov wanted from his players; our U-20 team is now a lot like the main team in many respects.

Please compare the emotions after winning U-20 World Cup and ‘adult’ World Championships.
These are two different tournaments, so it’s kind of difficult to compare. Of course winning the World Championships was fantastic, especially when you come to realize that you are the best of the best in the whole world. U-20 World Cup victory is also dear to my heart because it was the first serious victory in my career. Winning in general is great; emotions always run high after victories.

Standard question about the lockout.
I follow the situation closely and quite frankly, I don’t understand the motivation of both sides. Of course the bottom line is money, and no one wants to give in. I believe that in case they do not conclude a new agreement, they will likely come to play in KHL, and even though each team could have no more than five foreign players, KHL will probably come up with a resolution.

Commentating was fun, but playing is better

While in a club bus, why do you always sit on the last seat on the left? And do you live in a single room in hotels while on away series?
I once occupied this place because it was free. As for hotels, I usually live alone because everyone goes to sleep and gets up at different hour, so it’s more comfortable to be alone.

You did a fantastic job in commentator booth couple of months ago. Everyone has pointed out your peculiar style. If you ever receive an invitation to be a color commentator, will you accept?
Playing is better (laughs). Seriously though, I liked being a commentator. Players know a lot more about tiny details of the game and could educate fans on them.

You are a car buff, don’t you?
Yes; having a nice car has always been my dream, and now it’s reality.

Recently you have taken part in a public service ad regarding safe driving. Are you yourself a law-abiding driver?
Absolutely! Now I always wear a seatbelt, which I did not do regularly before. Seatbelt can save your life because when on a road things sometimes spin out of control.

Do you have something you can’t imagine your life without?
iPads and earphones are hockey players’ best friends. You see, we don’t have much time to go a theater or a cinema, so we have to entertain ourselves somehow, so things like these become absolutely indispensable. However, I would like to go on the record and say that I wish I had less spare time because I want to devote as much time as possible to hockey.

Traktor has recently introduced the club museum. Your take on it?
It’s definitely a good thing. You can take your kid to the museum and show the history of the team. A milestone like this is a proof that the club has reached a new level. Plus, I would love to see someone distribute among the fans the shirts of same color before the matches. That is a fantastic sight to see the whole arena painted in one color! I think we will come to that pretty soon.

How did you spend your summer vacation?
I went to Maldives along with Magnitka’s goaltender Georgy Gelashvili and our wives. It was kind of boring, but that was exactly what we had wanted; our goal was to lie on the beach and not think about anything.