Yevgeny Kuznetsov: I promised that I would be with Capitals one day, but first I need to cut my teeth in KHL

Congratulations on getting back to the national team! How are you feeling? (Di 1006)
Thank you, I’m fine! It’s always a pleasure to be in the national team. During the training sessions my linemates were Viktor Tikhonov and Mikhail Varnakov. It was very fun. In fact, it doesn’t make any difference to me whom I play with – I know all of these guys and feel myself comfortable playing with any one of them. All that matters is to do what the coach wants you to.

What’s the main goal for the remainder of the season – Gagarin Cup or World Championships gold? (RED BULL175)
I think that would be Gagarin Cup.

It would not be easy for you to win the coveted Gagarin Cup. Do you consider switching for another KHL team? (GINOALBERTO)
I think Traktor is one of the top contenders for the cup, and I don’t see any point signing with another club.

Do you think Traktor has the opportunity to hoist the cup? (
Сергей Никулин)
Of course I do. It’s only a question of desire and will to win.

Was the December-January slump that Traktor was in a sort of regrouping and force allocation? Like, we would make it to the playoffs anyways, so why bother? (trak 74)
No, of course it’s not what we thought. I can assure you, we will have enough strength come the playoffs. I think we are in great shape now; as for the slump, we’ve left it behind us.

Traktor had a four-match winning streak in January. Is it safe to say that Traktor has gotten out of slump? (Alexrock)
I think it is. Besides, some of these matches were against top-tier teams, so we were extra motivated; we had also lost a lot of points prior to this series, so we had no wiggle room and no other chance to redeem ourselves.

How long are you planning on staying in KHL? (kolyamir)
My agreement with Traktor expires next year; then we’ll see. I promised that I would join Washington Capitals one day, but it’s not a topic for today’s conversation.

You’ve already had an opportunity to go to the NHL. Why did you stay? (TRUMAN VALERA)
I have a contract in KHL, and I want to cut my teeth here first so that I come prepared for the NHL.

You’ve got great speed and skating skills, but at times you seem to lack something in the finishing stages of the attack. What is the reason for that? (trakt0r74rus)
I think it all comes from the desire to pull off something spectacular. There might be more goals if I stick to the basics.

Where did you get such great speed on the ice? (Severoy)
It’s a natural gift.

You also have got great penalty shooting skills; you only lost to Pavel Datsyuk in the All-Star Game’s penalty shot contest. Do ice surface dimensions matter when executing a penalty shot? Will you need some time to get used to the NHL ice surface dimensions? (torpedron)
I think I would say ‘no’ to both questions. I believe all I need to do is to work hard and do not pay attention to the ice dimensions.

If you hadn’t become a hockey player, what other occupation would you have chosen? (
П Арт)
I can’t even imagine myself being something else other than a hockey player. It’s all I want to do, at least for the foreseeable future.

You often criticize yourself in interviews. Why? (Di1006)
One always has to have a certain amount of self-criticism, but not too much though. You see, largely I speak the truth about my performance. As for criticism – if I put on solid performances, I won’t have a care in the world what media and people say and write about me. I always try to focus more on hockey and my performance.

Photo courtesy of Ice Hockey Federation of Russia