At the IIHF World Championships, essentially hockey’s equivalent of the World Cup, not every nation is on even footing.
There are the Canadas and Finlands at the top of the standings, and then there are teams like Italy, which do in fact play hockey, but not competitively on the world stage.
“We must play, although you understand teams’ levels are not equal,” he said. “I constantly met the same guy at the faceoff spot. I saw he just couldn’t win the faceoff no matter what. I told him, ‘Put your stick over mine at the faceoff.’ He heard me and did so. He managed to win a couple of faceoffs. Saw him smiling happily during the game after that.”
Kuznetsov is known for his sense of humor, so the reporter’s follow-up question of “Are you serious?” was understandable.
“Sure, why not?” Kuznetsov replied. “Other people were teaching me this way when I was younger. Why not helping others?”
Honest, wholesome and yet bold all at once. The requisite joke some Capitals fans would make here is that Kuznetsov needs a fellow NHLer to give him some faceoff pointers; the centerman drew criticism at points during the 2018-19 campaign for only winning 41.3% of his draws. But that can be improved another day.
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