The Traktor Chelyabinsk Yevgeny Kuznetsov, who will celebrate his 20th birthday in May, admitted in an interview to "R-Sport" Alyona Shilova (Apr. 9, 2012) that it's not easy to constantly match the expectations he created by himself as a leader of his team, and that everybody expects the results from him, but it is very hard to score in every game. The player, who is called by many experts as the future of Russian hockey, said that he hadn't yet decided whether to leave to NHL or continue to play in the KHL next season. His decision may be influenced by the fact whether Valery Belousov will remain as Traktor's head coach.
Here are some excerpts:
Just before the start of the playoffs you had to deal with knee injury, there were some dire prognoses...
The prognoses are what they are, but it is still good that there is such country as Germany (laughs). The doctor [in Germany] looked up and explained what was necessary to do to make sure it won't happen again, and he was right, pah-pah-pah [knock on wood]. I played in playoffs and the knee did not bother me. And others, they were giving different prognoses, one was of four weeks. When we arrived in Germany, the doctor initially told me to be on the crutches for four weeks and do nothing. I said, "I actually have a game on the 5th, like in... 10 days." He said, "Well then, ride the stationary bike on the 3rd and play on the 5th. What can I say, I know that hockey players are sick people, they can go out to play without a leg. But you've got a knee protector, you should be ok." And we also taped it the first few days. In general Traktor has a very high level of medical care. The doctor, the fitness coach, everyone worked hard and advised me on what to do. That's why I had no problems.
But didn't you risk too much playing in the last game of the series against Ugra?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained! If I had a pain, I wouldn't be playing, because it could've done more harm to everyone than good. But there was no pain and I played, given it all to hockey. To be honest, I asked for it, to play in that game. It would be hard to go out and play in playoffs vs. Ak-Bars without practice. And I played one game, for me it was very important to gain confidence. It is very hard when you are not playing. And I didn't have much of the ice time in that game, it was hard and I knew I wouldn't be very useful.
During the playoffs you said that you have already made a decision about the future for yourself, that you would stay in the KHL next season... Has anything changed or did you say just say it for the sake of not to be asked again about it?
Yes, just so that the people can leave me along. I got really tired of it. On April the 30th Traktor will give me an offer and then we'll see. So far there were no talks. And I can do nothing, but think, dream and talk constantly about it with everyone.
Is Washington active?
They don't call me every day, that's for sure. Everything is calm. They made me an offer and wait for my answer. So far I haven't promise anything. We just talked. Now we all waiting for the end of the season.
But have you decided by yourself?
Not exactly... (Pause) So far every day is different. I am still thinking.
Have you talked to Belousov? He believes that it is necessary for you to stay another year.
We haven't talked yet. We decided to wait until the end of the season.
Is it important for you whether Belousov will stay with Traktor or not? Will it affect your decision?
Of course. If he stays, it will be a big plus.
In Russia, can you imagine yourself with another club?
I believe that anything is possible. Everything will depend on me, on my desire where and how I want it.
In the course of the conversation you gave nice comments about the SKA, now everyone thinks that you are coming to St. Petersburg ...
Let the people think. I still haven't decided. Neither SKA nor any other team called me, and they don't have the right till April 30th. So far it was Traktor and Washington, no one else.
What about Traktor's management, do they show the activity?
Of course, they want me to stay. And I have a desire too, but I still think about it. Chelyabinsk... You live home and you play home, that says it all.
According to Sport-Express, the Washington Capitals' general manager George McPhee is arriving to Moscow on Tuesday. The purpose of the visit is the contract negotiations with Traktor's forward Yevgeny Kuznetsov and the possible signing of such contract. Right now Kuznetsov is with Russian national team at the Novogorsk training facility in Moscow region.