This summer, one of the most chatted-about prospects in the KHL, Kirill Kaprizov, moved to CSKA Moscow and then signed a contract up to April 2020. In this translated interview, Kaprizov declared that he still wants to play in the NHL and talked about life in the big city of Moscow in contrast with his native village near Novokuznetsk.
* To enjoy the original Russian interview by Alexei Shevchenko, click here. *
Move to Moscow
Alexei Shevchenko: Where did you settle down in Moscow after you moved to CSKA from Salavat Yulaev Ufa?
Kirill Kaprizov: At the Khodynka Field. Half of the team lives there. You’ve got no chances to get bored there. Nikita Nesterov always asks me to spend some time at his place. But my linemate Maxim Shalunov doesn’t have too much time for that as he’s busy with his family, but we have lunch together sometimes. There’s a nice park there where you can have a walk.
AS: What restaurants do you like the best?
KK: We usually go to the mall next to the arena – in Moscow, it’s very hard to move because of the traffic jams. And why should you waste time on the metro when you have such a calendar?
AS: Many players don’t like the way the calendar looks.
KK: I like it. We play constantly, not many practices. Of course, practicing is always interesting, but playing is just better.
AS: What did you find in CSKA that you didn’t have in Ufa?
KK: Quite the contrary: at CSKA arena there is no chak-chak. I loved it, but here it’s not sold. Regarding the organization, I don’t feel any difference.
AS: In the locker room, you don’t sit in the best place.
KK: Yes, I’m kind of separated from the rest of the team. Let me explain. I was sitting in a normal place, but then more experienced players arrived and I moved where I am now. I liked it and I didn’t want to move from there. When Vyacheslav Osnovin left the team, I was asked to take his place, but I refused. Too comfortable. But it has one minus.
AS: That is?
KK: I’m sitting next to the trashcan, and everyone just tries to hit the bullseye from the distance. Mostly, they fail. So I need to help with cleaning up.
AS: Do you also take pucks away, perhaps?
KK: Yes, sometimes I assign the task to Nikita Makeyev, one of our younger defensemen, but only when I need to go fast. It happens very rarely, so usually it’s my task.
AS: Did you buy yourself a big car now that you moved to CSKA?
KK: It’s a good car, but I’m not a cars enthusiast. Sometimes I don’t like the attitude we have in Russia towards cars. I talked about it with Nikita Nesterov. He told me that in America no one cares about your transport mean. And here you kind of have to own a big car. Once again, this is not for me. I don’t follow new cars, I don’t buy cars magazines. I bought a car, and all. We’re now building a house.
AS: A good one?
KK: It’s followed more by my father. But we want to build a good house. Maybe we’ll even build an ice rink to play there.
AS: Formally, you’re still living in Novokuznetsk, right?
KK: Yes, but in our little Kuzdeyevo we still own a house. We’re building there. I’d visit the village right now, but I don’t have time for that. We had a couple of free days recently, but there was little sense in doing such a trip for just one day. But maybe next time I’ll fly. I miss those places.
AS: Now you can fly in business class.
KK: Why to spend a lot of money for a four-hour fly? Usually, there isn’t a lot of people flying to Novokuznetsk, so you can be alone in your row. That is, you have three places all for you. You can rest and sleep.
AS: What kind of house did you have in Kuzdeyevo? Did you keep livestock?
KK: Not us, but we had a common yard with another house and there were always chickens and pigs running around. Our neighbors had a cow and we got milk from them. But although I greet everyone I met, and they recognize me, right now I don’t know a lot of people there.
I was playing hockey in Novokuznetsk since I was very young. It was a one-hour trip in the early morning, and the same to get back in the evening. So we moved to Novokuznetsk later, it was more comfortable.
AS: The arena in Novokuznetsk is terrible.
KK: I love it. I know everything there, it’s my ideal place. The playing area is great, there is a good place for the guests as well. It’s my favorite arena in our country.
AS: But maybe you’ll settle down in Moscow later.
KK: I doubt it. I’d move my brother here, but we couldn’t so far. It would be better with him. Of course, sometimes you want to be alone, but we already discussed this. My father gets here, but my mother could not.
AS: Where does your mother work?
KK: She’s a physical education teacher. She’s got a complicated job. Very complicated.
AS: I can imagine that. Today working with kids is becoming harder and harder.
KK: She works at school with kids with reduced mobility. No one is going to envy her job. Once I visited her there. I tell her to stop working and rest, but she doesn’t want to.
Kirill Kaprizov with a steal of the day/week/month. pic.twitter.com/nsi2GhHfMr
— KHL (@khl_eng) October 30, 2017
AS: And now the most important question: why you are not in Minnesota? If you didn’t sign a contract with CSKA up to 2020 you could fly there next spring.
KK: Well, you know that they weren’t too interested in me. What round was I picked at? The fifth? “I think that they forgot about me immediately after the selection. Only when I made it to the WC they started to do something and started talking with my agent. We all seen the job the Maple Leafs did with Nikita Zaitsev. There was nothing like that with me. I want to play in the NHL. Just not now, but a bit later. At first, I need to play well here, to be more confident. Sometimes I don’t play well even here, in the KHL.
Kirill Kaprizov’s Play in the KHL
AS: You were disappointed as you didn’t score for four games straight.
KK: I couldn’t score a single point in my first ten games for Salavat Yulaev Ufa last year. It was very hard and I was worried that it would have been the same.
AS: Why did you participate in the practice before the game against HC Sochi? It was an optional one.
KK: Many players attended the practice. And well, it was also because it was an optional one. I needed to do something to change the situation. I got worried if I don’t score points. But of course, the most important thing is that the team wins.
AS: You mother is a teacher. Did you always have good marks at school?
KK: I always had good marks. Until the eighth grade, I didn’t even get a single C. But then, of course, it was harder to find time to study. That said, I always worked hard to have good marks in Russian language and mathematics.
AS: And what about English language?
KK: Ryan Stoa helped me. In the sense that I didn’t enjoy that at school, then I met him and I understood that I really had a lack there. I started trying listening more to my teachers. Unfortunately, my English remained pretty weak. I can talk a bit with our foreign players, but not too much.
AS: It’s impossible to move to the NHL without knowing the language.
KK: The guys say that if you don’t have Russian teammates you just need a couple of months to start understanding and talking. But of course it would be much better to move if you already know the language, you’re right.
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso