Hi, it’s me. You may know me from the re:CAPS series I do for Chirpin’ DMV (which you can check out here btw), you may know me as the guy who started Timothy Jimothy Oshie (true story), but you may also know me as the guy who went to bat for Evgeny Kuznetsov all offseason.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 16: Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals controls the puck during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Capital One Arena on October 16, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images)

Yep. That’s me. Everyone, and I mean almost EVERYONE wanted this guy traded this past offseason. Every fan was sick of his production dipping, which is a fair reason to want to trade a player in all honesty. Add the off-ice issues he got into over the past few years: The cocaine incident, getting COVID twice, showing up late to team meetings. People were done with this guy.

They were given fuel to dump on the fire by reliable sources who believed Kuzy was legitimately being shipped out of D.C.

How about these two posts I found happening to use the exact same photo ^

Of course, all of these rumours were stirred up after GM Brian MacLellan was asked about a potential Kuznetsov trade and he responded, “I think we’re always open to trading people if it makes sense for what’s going on. If it’s going to make our team better, I think we’re open to it.”

People jumped on this and that’s why all the above tweets exist.

Despite all of this, I was out there in the thick of it trying to protect the guy’s name. I was in the shit, crawling through mud in the middle of a war zone, dodging bullets and clinging to my life defending my boy, Kuzy, because I thought the idea of trading him was absurd.

Yes, his point production had been dipping off and his antics had become a bit much. Not to mention the fact he makes $7.8millon, and the team is strapped for money as it is. I wasn’t blind to this. However, do we remember when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup? And he had 32 points in 24 games? Yeah, that guy isn’t just gone. The thing about Evgeny Kuznetsov is he is not just any player. He is one of the most unique players in the NHL and I don’t think people understand this. What he can do when he is on top of his game is unhuman.

He is one of the absolute best at carrying the puck through the neutral zone. When he’s on, nobody can touch him. When he has possession in the offensive zone? He is one of the most creative and skilled players in the NHL, and that couldn’t be less up for discussion. He just is. Have you seen some of his plays? The guy is a sicko with a hockey puck.

You may remember this goal as the one you cry to on a near-monthly basis

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Game Winner in OT vs Pittsburgh | Washington Capitals

Or this pass that he successfully pulled off MULTIPLE times.

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s great pass to Ovechkin | Askar Turebekov

He is a creative maniac.

And all of these things I’ve mentioned are not just to tire-pump Kuzy, which I’m happy to do. It is also to show that this guy is surreally talented, and he always will be. The issue seemed to be his effort levels at points. Sometimes he just seemed disinterested, but that is just his personality. He is as unique a person as he is a player, and for the last couple of seasons he has just been sort of distracted.

So far, I have probably just told you things you already know. So let me discuss why I knew he would be different this year.

When all of this was catching up with him this offseason and the possibility of him being traded was becoming increasingly more possible, it only made sense that this guy would not come in with the same lackadaisical attitude that was helping him lose his trust amongst the organization and its fans. I knew he would recognize the urgency to improve, and that’s exactly what he’s done so far.

Kuzy said the offseason trade rumours didn’t bother him, but do you really believe that? Do you believe that credible sources tweeting potential trade destinations for him didn’t concern him in the slightest? I don’t. That’s why, in this Instagram video when Ovechkin is giving Kuzy the offensive player of the game axe, he says, “This guy worked hiss ass off all summer.” Obviously, Kuzy was doing more than he usually does and Captain Ovi was recognizing that (which ya just love to see). He was preparing for his comeback, which has gotten off to a ridiculous start.

Through the Capitals’ first four games of the season, Kuzy has three goals and five assists for eight points with three multi-point games. He looks like the dominant Kuznetsov from 2018 and that’s because he recognized he needed to recalibrate and focus to get back to his elite level of play. Not to mention, with Nick Backstrom being out for an unspecified amount of time, Kuzy is the guy down the middle and he is living up to it. When Backstrom comes back and if Kuzy is still playing like this? Sheesh, that’s dangerous.

Not to mention, he is also playing on the penalty kill this year, which is a move I absolutely love by Uncle Pete. Show him that you and the organization still trust him by throwing him out on the PK and give him more responsibility — it’s genius and probably makes Kuznetsov feels way more comfortable.

Listen, I love Kuznetsov and always will. If he came out this year and scored 12 points, I would still go to bat for him because he just now holds a place in my heart. The fact that I went to bat for him and he is proving everybody else wrong? Well, he must have a place in his heart for me too.

I know it’s way too early in the season to seriously say that he is back, but so far so good and that makes me incredibly happy.

Keep buzzing, Bird Man. You’re an absolute stud and thank you for making me (and a few others, you know who you are) look brilliant.

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