At times during his Capitals career, Evgeny Kuznetsov has proved to be as dangerous with a microphone in his face as with a puck on his stick, but the Russian forward’s postgame comments on live television following his four-point night on Monday were free of any four-letter words.
Kuznetsov, who had two goals and two assists in Washington’s 6-4 win over the Kings and now has 12 points in his last six games, was looser with his words after scoring the overtime winner against Colorado last Thursday. During an interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Al Koken immediately following that triumph, Kuznetsov was asked about teammate Tom Wilson sticking up for him after Ian Cole’s cheap shot.
“That’s huge, you know?” Kuznetsov said. “We know Tom play physical and he’s huge for us. When s--- like that happen, he stand up. That’s always nice to have a guy like that on the team.”
“If people don’t like it, sorry about that,” the 26-year-old Kuznetsov said over the weekend. " . . . Any other day I’m maybe not going to speak like that, but after a game and during a game, I’m emotional. That’s what I play for, those type of emotions.”
Though it more commonly takes place in a locker room scrum than in a one-on-one interview on live TV, Kuznetsov’s casual cursing often colors his answers to reporters’ various questions.
Kuznetsov on Alex Ovechkin reaching 600 career goals last March: “Holy f---, that’s a lot of goals.”
On whether winning the Hart Trophy was a personal goal: “I don’t give a s--- about that. To be MVP, you have to work hard 365 [days] in a year, but I’m not ready for that.”
On being benched for taking an ill-advised slashing penalty in a game earlier this month: “Uh, that s--- happens, right?”
“If you look at [other players’] interviews, they’re all pretty same, right?” Kuznetsov said when asked about his cursing habit. “If I talk to media, especially after a game, always emotional and that’s all me. I don’t want to give, like, kind of form [response] like they teach you . . . I’m pretty sure the kids already know this, right? It’s probably not a bad idea to teach them, but that’s all me. That’s nature. I think that people want to see that, the nature of the emotional.”
Kuznetsov’s emotions — and nerves — got the best of him at the Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory parade last June, when he was unexpectedly encouraged to say a few words to the assembled crowd. His impromptu speech began innocently enough and concluded with the most R-rated (and hilarious, depending on whom you ask) line of the day.
“For some guys it’s been a long way to get to that point, but we’re never going to be there without our parents, without our fans, without our families,” Kuznetsov said. “And let’s f--- this s---!”
“I was nervous a little bit,” Kuznetsov later told Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt. “And every time I nervous, I swear. That one funny. You can see where it’s natural, right? Those words, I wish I can speak better so I can give a good speech or prepare. But that was first come from my mind, that’s what I said. You don’t have to explain anything. It’s natural. Everyone understand right away.”
Kuznetsov didn’t speak English when he left the KHL to join the Capitals in March 2014, four years after Washington drafted him in the first round. He regularly swore growing up and some of the first English words he learned from his new NHL teammates were, naturally, curse words.
“I know even better words,” Kuznetsov said with a laugh. “ . . . That’s the problem. When you talk like that for so many years, sometimes you just don’t even think what you’re saying. It’s just normal words for you, but for some people I guess that’s bad.”
While many Capitals fans appreciate Kuznetsov’s unfiltered nature, Kuznetsov told reporters last March that Capitals VP of Communications Sergey Kocharov didn’t appreciate him dropping the f-bomb when talking about Ovechkin’s 600th goal. A few days later, after scoring an overtime winner against the Rangers, Kuznetsov appeared to stop himself from letting a bad word slip during a G-rated locker room interview.
“I can’t swear anymore, you know?” he said with a grin.
Nearly a year later, Kuznetsov as a polished interview subject remains a work in progress, especially after a game.
“I’m trying to get better, but sometimes, like I said, it’s emotional,” he said. “[Sergey] know me. When he put me out there, he know it’s 50-50.”
Isabelle Khurshudyan contributed to this report.
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