Got a message from our field reporter Emily...
Now back to the studio. Yes, it's very long, but here are some excerpts...
By Dmitri Nikulin, SportsDaily.ru, Sept.13, 2011, "Evgeny Kuznetsov, life at the arena":
Can one say that you are self-made man? That the Coaches didn't play a big role in your development?
Coaches were very helpful. My Dad taught me. He never pushed me, but sometimes gave some advices because he played hockey himself. I am indebted to my coaches. But for the most part I managed to achieve something due to the fact that everybody trained for one and a half hours a day, and I was training for eight hours. Maybe that's why I was ahead of everyone. I had only one passion. Figuratively speaking I lived at the rink, and was at home to sleep only.
What prevents others to do the same? Especially when there is such a good example before their eyes.
A lot depends on the parents. I lived across from the hockey arena and my parents never obstructed me [to go and play hockey]. I had the uniform at home, would dress up and walk across the street. I was skating with all the teams.
Have you ever run into the gangs from ChTZ neighborhood? [ChTZ - Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant - tj]
Nope. Even now, when I meet the guys who are older, they say, "Your job is to play hockey and score goals. If there will be a problem, we will help."
You said that in America, where you went every summer, nobody would mug you and take away your phone. And in ChTZ it is a common occurrence.
So, don't carry a phone, ha ha. Leave it at home. I didn't have such problems, I always walked through the streets where everyone knew me.
Have you met your love at the arena?
Yes, Nastya brought her younger brother, so we got acquainted. After that we found each other online, became friends and started talking.
How did you propose?
I had prepared everything in advance. Woke up this morning and said that I needed to run some errands. Took one of her rings, not to be mistaken with the size, bought a ring, came home, put it on a shelf and took a nap. She woke up and found it.
Any fist fights at the wedding? [Pretty common - tj :-) ]
Everything was quiet, peaceful and calm. Even if someone was on bad terms with each other, we had seated them in a correct way, as they say.
Alexander Ovechkin was at your wedding.
I invited him, friends said that he wanted to come to Chelyabinsk. I called him, invited. He put all his business aside and decided to come. As a result, instead of one day he stayed here for a week, hahaha. We talked, and about the NHL, of course.
Did Washington gave him the assignment to recruit you?
No, it would be wrong. He told me about the things that no general manager or coach could. It's great to have such a friend. This is the man who I see on TV, whose autographed cap I am wearing. However I rarely put it on, afraid to wear it out.
Earlier you said you would like to move to America. Have you changed your mind?
No, it's still the same. You just need to make the right choice, not make a mistake when exactly to go there. I have a dream to play at the Olympics. On the one hand, it doesn't matter where you play, in Russia or in America. If Coach needs you, he will call you. On the other hand, if you play in Russia, you will be more visible to the coaches. Since I am a young player the coach needs to see me, talk to me, to understand what I am about. And if you are over the ocean, they will only see my stats. Yes, now they have scouts, but still everything will depend on the coach. If something, he will be responsible, so it would be him that will pick the team. In general I try to see things in a global point of view.
Your victory at the junior world championship in Buffalo was unexpected, because junior hockey in Russia in recent years experienced a crisis.
Even we didn't expect this. We hoped, of course, to win, but didn't think we could win. Even after the final game it was hard to believe in the reality. Only later it came, and then we started receiving the gifts. My teammate Anton Burasov and I got condos from the governor, province and the city. Many thanks to them. Hopefully this year I will go again to the junior world championship and get another condo, ha ha. But it's not all about the gifts, it's the attention. It means a lot. Now Chelyabinsk authorities pay attention to the club. The province, the city and sponsors are giving huge funds. You feel responsible, you need to keep the brand.
In the summer you had a surgery on your shoulder. Is it healed?
Yes, completely. Now we have to bring my muscles in shape. Preseason games showed that it's difficult for me so far. I can play well the first two shifts, and then it's going downhill. You want to do twice as much to return to the same level, but the muscles have atrophied, and you realize how bad it is. You start rushing it. Plus I gained extra weight, but gradually I'll train myself for the better. Pretty soon I'll look like a hockey player.
What was your longest distance travel?
We flew to the Dominican Republic. Here's the funny story that happened there. I worked out on a stationary bike at the gym. Next to me a man was training who looked about 65 years old. On the last day, when we were saying good-bye, he began to wish me good luck in hockey. And before that we never talked about hockey and I never mentioned what I was doing. I was surprised, "How do you know?" It turned out that he was Team Canada's scout. He said that he knew all about me, that he would remember our victory in Buffalo for life. "Thank you," he says, "for a lesson. It was a miracle that the team that was falling apart, had a lot of injured players, came back and crushed our team in ten minutes." He said that it was very hard to survive such loss. In general, Canadians can put on ice five teams like their top one. And they can even take people out of the NHL, who are eligible by age, Duchesne, Kane, Pietrangelo, Skinner... I would want to play Super Series with them. The real Super Series, make a fight one team against another team. Each time you play Canadians it gives you three or four years of experience. You get so much adrenaline, a real thrill.
Do you have a hockey talisman?
When we were playing in Canada, I was approached by a fan who gave me the coin issued in 1972, the same year of the Soviet Union Summit Series vs Canada. He said to keep it, that it would bring me luck. This coin was given to him by his grandfather, it was very rare and valuable. "Luck will always be with you," said the fan. After that we won the junior world championship.