Friday, July 16, 2010
Braden Holtby and Evgeny Kuznetsov got the coaches attention during the Thursday scrimmage—but not entirely in the way they might have wished.
The episode took place when Kuznetsov, the Caps first round draft pick, a player whom Bruce Boudreau has repeatedly praised this week and a forward in today’s scrimmage for the Team Red, brushed into Holtby as the goalie for Team While was trying to play the puck far outside the crease and just outside the face-off circle.
Holtby failed to get back to the net in time after the run-in and Jake Hauswirth easily put the puck in the wide-open goal. As Kuznetsov skated through the crease to celebrate with his team members, he appeared to turn and say something to Holtby.
The frustrated goalie whacked Kuznetsov with his stick across the back of the leg, knocking him to the ice. Kuznetsov, got up with a grimace and, bent over from the blow and apparently adding a few choice words, skated away.
Afterward the scrimmage, Boudreau, somewhat to the surprise to a gaggle of reporters, put most of the blame on Kuznetsov. “I think we’ll have a word with Kuznetsov that in North America you can’t taunt and make funny moves. When he did that—he was having fun maybe—but he gave a little taunt to Holtby.”
The offense? “After it was done he sort of said like ‘Oooh’ and laughed at him and that’s not going to go well with the North American people,” the coach added.
Boudreau said that he would have Arturs Irbe, the Latvia-born and Russian speaking Caps goalie coach, speak to Kuznetsov and “I’ll have a little chat with Holtby.”
As development camp prospects left the locker room, Caps Snaps spoke to each of the players about the incident. Speaking in Russian, Kuznetsov said that today’s scrimmage was harder than the one on Wednesday, in which his dazzling play enabled him to score two goals, as he had slept poorly and did not feel his best.
But he played down the episode and seemed to treat it as a matter of cultural miscommunication. “I myself don’t understand what happened,” he said. “It’s all forgotten. It was one of those things. Maybe I brushed against him, but it’s okay now.”
As for the goal, “our team scored the goal. I played into his stick and he did not get to the goal in time. It was nothing terrible,” he said.
Holtby, who indicated that he was not happy with his own performance on Thursday, was more expansive. “There are probably two sides of the story,” he told Caps Snaps. “I am a pretty big competitor and when I played the puck he kind of hit me and interfered with me, and in a real game that would have been a penalty. But it is kind of a heat of the moment type thing and I don’t know what exactly happened. It is kind of a blur.”
Asked whether he believed Kuznetsov had taunted him as well as interfered, Holtby said, “It was a little bit of both. You never really want to see that, especially in a guy that is going to be your teammate hopefully someday.”
“But we talked it over with Arturs and whatnot,” he said. “It was probably just a kind of a miscommunication. I am sure he did not mean it, but it kind of looked that way. But in saying that, I got to control myself in those situations,” he said. “I lost focus after that whole Kuznetsov thing. It definitely was not my best performance, but I will do better next time.”
The next time may not be far off since the final scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday. Kuznetsov also vowed to step up his performance. “I played better yesterday,” he said. “Today we lost. The day after tomorrow we need to win.”
Yaroslav Maslovsky assisted with the translation.
Photos from the incident:
Video of the incident can be found Here.
Photos without watermarks were still taken by me.