Wild star Kirill Kaprizov talks for first time since dangerous hit
The 24-year-old Russian is looking forward to All Star Weekend next month in Las Vegas.
ST. PAUL — On Thursday night, Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov learned that he had been named an NHL all-star for the first time. He already is looking forward to being a part of the weekend spectacle Feb. 4-5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“It’s a lot of fun for me,” Kaprizov said through a translator on Friday morning at Xcel Energy Center. “Personally, it’s my first time here in the NHL, and so it’s a great honor. I’m looking forward to it.”
The fact the 24-year-old Russian will be able to participate in All-Star Weekend isn’t something he is taking for granted. Not after suffering what appeared to be a serious injury during last week’s win over the Bruins in Boston.
Midway through the game, Kaprizov got bumped off the puck during a routine board battle, and was left in a vulnerable position when Bruins winger Trent Frederic decided to finish his check.
As a fight broke out around him — Wild defenseman Dmitry Kulikov immediately dropped the gloves with Frederic — Kaprizov slowly struggled to stand. He left the game favoring his right shoulder and needed help getting to the Wild locker room.
“The hit wasn’t very pleasant,” said Kaprizov, who was set to return to the lineup when the Wild played the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. “I obviously got a little bit nervous. Especially the first couple of days. After that, it got a lot better very quick. I understood that this was going to be OK.”
Did he think the hit was dirty?
“To be honest, I really don’t care,” Kaprizov said. “I was just playing hockey and doing my job.”
No doubt the worst part for Kaprizov was that he had to miss the game against the Washington Capitals last weekend. That meant he didn’t get to play against the legendary Alex Ovechkin, a player he grew up idolizing back home in Russia.
“It’s definitely unfortunate,” Kaprizov said. “You always want to go out there and play against Alex. I also know (defenseman Dmitry Orlov) very well. He’s from Novokuznetsk. Then, (goaltender Ilya Samsonov), we played together growing up in World Juniors and other leagues as well. It was definitely tough to miss.”
The next chance Kaprizov gets to share the ice with Ovechkin will be at All-Star Weekend next month. As for the all-star game itself, Kaprizov said he is very much looking forward to playing against some of the best players in the NHL.
“That’s going to be an amazing time to play against the best,” Kaprizov said. “It always elevates my game. It should. That’s never going to change.”
Asked if he has any tricks up his sleeve for the game, Kaprizov bashfully responded, “I don’t have cool skills.”
He flashed a smile before taking the bait.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe.”