Every hockey team has its front man; the guy whose jersey everyone wears and whom everyone associates with the success of the team. The Washington Capitals have Alexander Ovechkin. The charismatic, and sometimes controversial, Ovi has been the face of the Caps since his arrival in 2004.
We have watched Kuzy for years, never sure if he would actually arrive to play in the NHL. He has, after all, been a bit of a star hockey player since he was a young boy. He has loving supportive parents who have encouraged him every step of the way. In 2011 the 19 year-old married the lovely Anastasia (Nastia) who is always by his side. He became a father in May 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. He is a solid guy on and off the ice.
Leaving his home was not an easy thing but leaving HC Traktor and joining the NHL and the Washington Capitals was something Evgeny has seemed to want for quite some time. And now that he is here, there is that same sense of magic that surrounded Alex when he arrived. With Ovi now in his 30s and with four seasons left on his contract, he isn’t going anywhere, but the Caps do have the advantage of grooming a replacement for their advertising and we have a chance to love another Russian!
There is that same kind of smirky smile that endears him to us.
There is that same special pointing to the heavens – he too lost a brother at an early age and in the 2005 movie “Hockey Nomad Goes to Russia.” his mother spoke of the impact that had on a young Evgeny as well as the entire family and her son’s accomplishments at such an early age.
There is that adorable broken English with the rough edge of a Russian accent. Kuzy reportedly began to learn English even before coming the America. He has said he watches shows like Family Feud to improve his English…
And there is that something different he brings to the ice that makes him standout from the rest. He has that posture, that shot, that winning attitude that a team needs for inspiration.
And there is the potential for Kuznetsov to have the scoring power, although maybe not what we have seen in Ovechkin. He was a Russian star long before he was a Caps star. He was also one of the most talked about players in the 2015-16 season.
We have yet to see his leadership skills but this is a team with a lot of mutual respect for one another and clearly his teammates admire him. He has a great mentor in Ovi and a team that will stand behind him. There is no doubt that he is a rising star.
When it comes to the face of the franchise, we think Kuzy may be it, barring the addition of a new more charismatic player. We know from our own stats, his pictures, next to Tom Wilson, are the most liked and the most retweeted or copied. And that is what you want – someone who is marketable and who also brings home the points night after night.
Unless of course, it is this guy…
Our thanks to the Russian media and RMNB for some great shots which we borrowed!