During his first interview with local media, Vegas Golden Knights forward Nikita Gusev stood with a translator to facilitate the English-Russian language barrier as he answered questions for the first time in North America.
Gusev maintained an expression of focus with hints of excitement as he opened up about his first couple of days in the NHL. That expression changed ever so briefly during one question and his eyes gave the answer that his translator was yet to speak.
When he was asked about his feelings of potentially playing in a Stanley Cup Playoff game, Gusev's face lit up at the mention of the Stanley Cup. If hockey is a universal language, then the words "Stanley" and "Cup" form the most exciting noun in the dictionary.
"That would be awesome," Gusev said through his translator. "I can't wait debut in an NHL playoff game, it would be a pleasure."
Gusev, who signed with the Golden Knights on April 14, was released from SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL so that he could take the next step in his hockey career and pursue the Stanley Cup. Already a Gagarin Cup champion in the KHL, the Moscow native is excited by the idea of chasing the ultimate goal in the NHL. He said it's a big moment in his life.
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When Gusev signed with Vegas, he said General Manager George McPhee said that getting in a game was not guaranteed but the allure of being in the NHL alone was enough to join the Golden Knights.
"There never was a guarantee of playing, it's just about the team," said Gusev. "If the coaches and team need me, I will be ready and do the best that I can. Right now, I want to play in the best league in the world."
While getting familiar with a new language will be an on-going process for Gusev, the transition of becoming a Vegas Golden Knight has been made easier for him by everyone he's met.
The systems are similar to the team back in Russia," Gusev said. "The team, staff, coaches and management have made it really easy to adjust."