was an absolutely stand-out in his first NHL season; he achieved things nobody predicted he would do, scoring 39 goals and collecting. 74 points. He instantly connected with the superstar Swede Elias Pettersson
, and the two leaned on each other to improve their performances.
Over the summer, the objective was clear for Kuzmenko as he wanted to return to Vancouver in outstanding shape to break his personal scores. He met with Sportsnet's Iain MacIntyre to talk about the changes he adopted and his personal objectives, in in garbled English:
''Last season was so bad for me, my weight. Now, I lose weight. Last summer, I (ate) a lot of waffles. Waffles are not good for me. I like, but (they're) not good for me. This summer, rules for me: no chocolate, no Nutella, no ice cream in my freezer. You want ice cream, then go to the market. But I stay home''
The Russian winger revealed the changes he adopted over the summer, and his mindset clearly shows the aspirations of a winner:
''But this summer is so simple for me to prepare for season because I have coaches. For my body, it's very good. I need to have good summer because I change (how I) prepare for season. I work on my balance, yes. Skating is a little difficult for me (last season) when I stop, change sides, and my balance is a little tight and I go down. So, I work on the balance. I work on my ... what is it for food? (nutrition) »
While Kuzmenko's Instagram page is filled with tourist pictures of his many destinations, rest assured, Kuzmenko carried his personal trainer every step. Kuzmenko even confirmed that he came to Vancouver ten pounds lighter than when he arrived in town last season.
Kuzmenko will be working with additional pressure this year (he knows it) after signing an $11M extension, and he isn't scared one bit. The winger is confident that, just like every other year, he'll find a way to step his game up. He pointed out that he never thought about going home to relax, and now that he's in Vancouver, he isn't stopping.
«I need to be better. Little drills, yes? Defence, I be better. Shooting, I be better. I shoot more. And skating ... I need physical body. Work, work, work. I know I have pressure. But I have pressure all my hockey years. Every year, step up. But for me, it's simple: You want to be better? Go to work. Go to the gym, go to the ice, go to the cycle. You don't want to be better? Relax, stay home. But I want to be better.»
He is quite confident that he can take his game to the next level and that the core made of Hughes, Pettersson, Miller and Demko are ready to take the playoff route. From his perspective, the team has matured, and it's time they deliver.
September 14 | 358 answers
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