Season Ticket Holders were treated to a rare private session with three of the Washington Capitals four Russian players in honor of Russian Heritage Night at the Verizon Center Tuesday night. The boys were in great moods coming off a night in which Alex Ovechkin, on an assist from Evgeny Kuznetsov, scored the game winning goal in overtime. Jovial doesn’t even come close to explaining Kuzy’s mood!!
They talked about the difference in playing in the NHL and the KHL–mostly the size of the ice. Kuzy said one difference is how loud Verizon Center gets. In Russia the rink usually holds about 7,000 people compared to the 18,000 in DC and he said it is so much louder here. And they love it. He said, “we feel the fans, how they are feeling” when they are playing. They draw energy from the crowd – so keep being loud friends!!
They all spoke about the difficulty in coming to America and learning the language. Dmitry said he knew no English when he came and ultimately hired a tutor to help him learn. Stan, who came to the US when he was 16, had a much harder time, in part because he was so young. When asked if the non-Russian speaking players are learning Russian or if they are learning Swedish, Kuzy giggled and said “only the swear words. We can’t say in locker room because they all know”
They also agreed that one of the hardest things about living here is being away from their family and friends. Orlov said he typically goes home for a couple months during the summer just to be with his family and see friends. Kuzy spoke about his mother and father and how difficult it is for them to change their routines by living in the DC area. That said, he talked lovingly about his mother’s cooking and that when she is here the day starts with a big breakfast, then a lunch, then another lunch…someone loves his mother’s cooking!!
There were more personal reveals too. Asked what their favorite thing to eat at home after being in America was, Kuzy’s first word was “vodka.” Then he explained what a great cook his wife was–grinned that grin we are all used to by now and said again: “vodka.”
Dima and Evgeny told the crowd that one of their favorite memories was of the Buffalo and the World Juniors Game when they beat Canada in the final. Stan said his best memories are of leading the Saint John Sea Dogs to capture the Memorial Cup in the 2010-11 season.
And then there was Canada. As Stan tells of Kuzy calling a local restaurant to make reservations for five at 7 pm. The person on the other end of the line said it was not possible–too late to do on a Saturday night. So Kuzy asked if it would make a difference if one of the five was Alexander Ovechkin. The reply? “Five with Ovechkin available any time!” There IS power in the Ovi name!!
It was a great 30 minutes with some of the most talented players in the league. All of them, for their accomplishments, were pretty humble and completely hysterical. One can only imagine what happened when they were in Los Angeles…but apparently no one is talking!!
Thanks to the Caps and our Russian boys for a great evening.