Before the games against Finland and Czech Republic at the Carlson Hockey Games in Brno, Nikita Kucherov met with journalists from several Russian sport media companies and discussed his last season in the NHL and upcoming World Championship [Sport-Express]
S-E: The National Team started preparation for the World Championship with a loss to Sweden.
Kucherov: That’s fine. The coaches pointed out our mistakes, what we need to do and what not. It was the first game for many guys, we need to adapt to the new lines. I think everything is fine, waiting for the next game.
S-E: Everyone’s discussing how Russian team lines will look like? Do you have any preferences?
Kucherov: What’s the point of having preferences? We have a coach, he knows who’s playing better with whom. We just play as he decides. We have a good team, everyone knows what to do.
S-E: Do you have a feeling that you have a “dream team“ like everyone’s talking about?
Kucherov: Not really. Yes, everyone’s playing on the main roles in their teams, but here everyone’s playing for one team and each other.
S-E: What do you remember the most from the only World Championship you’ve played in?
Kucherov: It was fun, good teammates, good opponents.
S-E: Have you been remembering anything about the game against Team Canada?
S-E: What do you think about the service of the national team?
Kucherov: Everything’s on a good level, they’re doing everything for us. We just need to play and give them some positive results.
After making the trip to the Czech Republic, players of the senior Russian national team held a training session with the final two matches of the 2018/2019 Euro Hockey Tour just around the corner.— Russia Hockey (@russiahockey_en) May 2, 2019
Photo gallery: https://t.co/MQ7qlxNZW9 pic.twitter.com/2ryrY8CpYi
S-E: You have the experience of playing for Russia at the World Championship and at the World Cup. Which format is more interesting for you?
Kucherov: I like the World Cup more. Surely teams like Norway or Italy also want to play against the best players. But I’d make the tournament shorter.
S-E: Do you think that you and your teammates from the Lightning have moved on from last NHL season?
Kucherov: I think so. The time has passed and we have another goal now. I’m thinking only about the national team now.
S-E: The question about your suspension in the Playoffs, where does it even come from? And how did this affect you?
Kucherov: I didn’t get it, what should I say?
S-E: Just how did it happened?
Kucherov: What do you mean how did it happened?
S-E: Why did you play like this in that episode?
Kucherov: That’s what you should have asked first. I don’t know, probably just emotions. I didn’t really think there would be a suspension.
S-E: The opportunity to win a gold medal is a chance to reboot after NHL season?
Kucherov: I don’t think about it anymore. We have a good team now, the atmosphere in the locker room is amazing, everyone’s making jokes, I really missed it. So what’s the point of thinking about something from the past? I’ve switched to the national team and just thinking about how to play better.
S-E: What have you learned from the Playoffs?
Kucherov: I don’t know. It’s hard to tell about the Playoffs now, I have to play for the national team. It has already happened.
S-E: You have broken the Alexander Mogilny record this season.
Kucherov: Yes, it was a pleasure for me.
Nikita Kucherov of the @TBLightning recorded his 127th point of 2018-19 to match the NHL record for most in a season by a Russian player, a mark set by Alexander Mogilny in 1992-93. #NHLStats #TBLvsBOS pic.twitter.com/wuQa5gEXSE— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 6, 2019
S-E: Did Alexander congratulate you?
Kucherov: He didn’t congratulate me personally.
S-E: Are you going to improve this achievement next season?
Kucherov: The Stanley Cup is the main goal. I really want to win it. Personal achievements are moving away when it comes to the team goals. Of course, I want to play better, but the playoffs have showed us that we need to play as a team.
S-E: Do you think that productivity in the NHL is going to keep increasing?
Kucherov: The rules are changing slowly to make it easier to score. We’ll see.
S-E: You’ve been nominated for the Hart Trophy. Do you want to win?
Kucherov: Sure, why not? I’m grateful to my teammates and the coaching stuff for support.
S-E: What did Artemi Panarin say to you after last game against the Blue Jackets?
Kucherov: Joke it was or not, it’s going to be a secret.
S-E: Artemi said you’ve threatened him.
Kucherov: It’s our thing... Most people just don’t get it.
S-E: Do you think there was reason to rest a couple of games at the end of the regular season? Have coaches discussed it with you?
Kucherov: No, they did not discuss it with me. What is the point of talking about it now? We’ve lost and that’s it.
S-E: In North America, someone’s joking that the best team lost to make Team Russia better. What do you think?
Kucherov: I don’t know what happened, do you think they’ve lost on purpose?
S-E: Are you going to root for Panarin in the playoffs?
Kucherov: I’m playing at the Worlds so I don’t care.
S-E: You’ve said couple of years before that you want to learn from Evgeny Malkin. Have you learned already something?
Kucherov: I don’t know, he’s a center/forward, we’re playing at different positions, but it’s a honor to play with him.
S-E: Is it easier or not to play on the same line with him?
Kucherov: Of course it’s not hard. He’s smart player and it’s easier to adapt with such a player. It’s a pleasure to play with him and we’re getting better with every practice.
S-E: How great is it to play on the same line with Nikita Gusev?
Kucherov: Surely it’s great to play with Goose, we’ve spent a many years together. When we were younger, we didn’t think about it, we were just trying to play better. It’s fun to play with him, he’s smart and making a lot of chances for his partners. I wish him to stay longer in the NHL.
S-E: Does your old chemistry still work?
Kucherov: Of course we still have a chemistry since we’re playing hockey in the same style. It’s easier for me to play with players like him.
S-E: Gusev is already in the NHL but is still running away from journalists. Are you going to influence him?
Kucherov: When I came to the NHL, no journalist came to me.
S-E: What childhood memories do you have from playing with him?
Kucherov: He scored a lot of goals and had a lot of points. He was the best player at the every tournament he played.
S-E: Then why does he have more assists than goals now?
Kucherov: Nikita can be also a team player. He’s making teammates better.
S-E: Were you upset when the Lightning traded his rights to the Golden Knights? You could play for the same team.
Kucherov: Of course I was upset. It would be very nice to play together in the NHL. But the management know better, they decided it was the right move. I’m not the one to judge. Nikita is a great player, he played on so many levels.
S-E: Pavel Buchnevich recently lost a bet and put on an US jersey. Would you do something like this?
Kucherov: I think it was their team’s thing. If someone offered me something like this, maybe I would. I don’t know.
S-E: Are you an adventurous person?
Kucherov: A little bit.
S-E: Did you congratulate someone for winning the Gagarin Cup?
Kucherov: Of course, I’m very happy for the guys. I have a lot of friends in the CSKA.
S-E: Did you follow the KHL Playoffs?
Kucherov: I’ve read something and I’ve seen also game scores. It wasn’t very hard for them (Nikita’s smiling)
S-E: The head coach of the Avangard Omsk Bob Hartley said that he hasn’t seen such an unfordable defense.
Kucherov: I don’t care about the CSKA. I have my own team. They are great and that’s why they’ve won.
S-E: Nikita Nesterov said that it wasn’t easy for them in fact. How wild is it for North America, that division winners have been eliminated in the first round?
Kucherov: NHL is very interesting, because you don’t know what to expect. In the KHL, you already know who is the leader and who’s going to get further.
S-E: Could the salary cap help to put every team at the equal position?
Kucherov: I don’t know.
S-E: How comfortable do you feel when you’ve been offered, for example, to appear in commercials?
Kucherov: It’s very easy. You’re getting used to it. You’ve been surrounded by good people, they’re making the positive atmosphere. I feel comfortable.
S-E: You have a clothing line. How much time does it take? Does it distract you from hockey?
Kucherov: I’m not doing it personally, ask my agent.
S-E: Is it true that you’re watching hockey all the time?
Kucherov: It’s a little bit exaggerated, why are you making me for a hockey...
Kucherov: I’m trying to relax from hockey at home, spend a time with family. Some games could be difficult, you need to relax.
S-E: Do you have any favourite TV shows? What music do you listen?
Kucherov: I’m watching a lot of TV shows, almost everything on the TNT (Russian TV channel). Actually everything that my wife could find.
S-E: How did the birth of a son affect your life?
Kucherov: It added some responsibility and a lot of positive emotions. I’m thinking only about him. Always playing with him, when I came home. It changed my life for the better.
S-E: Didn’t family distract you from the hockey?
Kucherov: My mother came to help, my wife’s mother also helped us. We didn’t have any issue.
S-E: Is your son going to walk or skate first?
Kucherov: I don’t know (Nikita’s laughing)
S-E: Do you want to see him as a hockey player.
Kucherov: He will do whatever he decides. It’s early to look in the future.