Kucherov talks Team Russia, Nikita Gusev, and the local media
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov talks Team Russia, playing with childhood friends Nikita Gusev and Igor Ozhiganov, and his perspective on local media.
Last week, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov was interviewed by Pavel Lysenkov of Sovsport.ru. Translation of that article can be found here.
This week, Igor Eronko added some more details from that interview to a new Sport-express.ru article. The additional sections are translated below.
This Russian-to-English translation was generously provided by @nikonov_igor and edited by @forgotten_night.
How long were you thinking about joining the national team?
Kucherov: I agreed immediately. The season finished so early. Training camp begins only in September. Four months is a huge pause. I’m not used to it, so I said yes as soon as I got an offer from the national team. I want to win something. We have a good team, there is a chance to successfully perform at the World Championship. It’s a big pleasure for me to play for another month.
Could you persuade Steve Yzerman to take Nikita Gusev to Tampa?
Kucherov: I always say this to the Lightning; not only about Gusev, but about Igor Ozhiganov too. It’s not about our friendship. Both are great players, they could help Tampa to win a Stanley Cup. I wouldn’t have recommended them if they weren’t able to. By the way, I spoke to them about taking their chances in the NHL. It’s an opportunity to play against the best players in the world. We have known each other since childhood, it would be great to win the Stanley Cup together.
Since a lot of players were traded during the season, could the team be sure about making the playoffs?
Kucherov: We are hockey players, it’s not our business. Our business is to go out and play. It's coaches and management who decide. We tried to concentrate only on hockey. But in the end, it was only one point that separated us from making the playoffs. The season was hard. Since some of the guys were traded, the role of the rest of the team changed. They had to take on more responsibility. They weren’t used to it so it was difficult. I went through this process too. I’ve learned a lot, it helped me get on a new level, step out of the shadows of more experienced players.
It is said that you don’t really like the press.
Kucherov: They don’t interview me often. Sometimes, when I score three goals, no one comes up for an interview. But if I happen to have a slump, I’m immediately surrounded. It angers me because I don’t know what to say when you don’t play well. I don’t have constant speaking practice, so I simply can’t find the words to express my thoughts sometimes. This is why they write this nonsense, that I don’t communicate. But I don’t care. I would love to see them being asked about things they don’t know after three months in Russia.
Did [Andrei] Vasilevskiy improve after [Ben] Bishop’s trade?
Kucherov: Yes, he began to feel more comfortable both on and off the ice. But I think sooner or later he would have become the starting goalie, even if Bishop had stayed on the team. Maybe next year. Vasilevskiy works really hard. I’ve never seen guys like him. He's achieving his goal little by little and only becoming stronger.