Пресса: 12 сентября 1989 года.
Soviet Balderis dazzling in camp // Minneapolis Star Tribune
Author: Tony Moton; Staff Writer
Being away from highly competitive hockey the past four years hasn't
robbed Helmut Balderis of his puck-handling skills.
In three days of training camp scrimmages with the North Stars, Balderis,
37, has put on a clinic. Twice, the right wing has scored dazzling goals
on penalty shots, and his passing has been exceptional.
On a penalty shot Monday, Balderis beat free-agent goalie Ric Poirier
with a move in which he made two rapid swipes at the puck before shooting.
"Some guys do that and they lose the puck," general manager Jack Ferreira
said. "He did it under control."
Said Poirier: "I knew he was faking. He faked in the slot and I came.
He shuffled to the left, to right, to left and beat me to the stick side.
He's very good with the puck, no doubt about it."
Balderis, the former Soviet national star, scored on one of two penalty
shots Saturday. He beat goalie Jarmo Myllys with a backhand on the first
attempt but missed the net high on the second.
Balderis has been so impressive as a skater that coach Pierre Page said
he might use him as a model in skating drills. "He can really make cuts,"
he said. "I like that because cutting is very important, and not many people
really work on that." # Goalie Kari Takko, who suffered a hairline fracture
in a scrimmage at Burnsville two weeks ago, is expected to have a cast
removed from his foot Wednesday and could be at practice Monday after the
Stars break camp.
If he gets an OK from his doctor, Takko said, he will skate Thursday
and Friday. But he said he will not be able to play until late in the exhibition
"The foot feels fine," Takko said from the Twin Cities. "I've been able
to ride the (stationary) bike and it feels fine. It's been a long two weeks.
I'm starting to feel a little crazy." # The North Stars played in a haze
at Saturday's morning practice at Wings Stadium. High humidity outside
apparently was the culprit.
"You could play in it, but it was hard to see," rookie left wing Clark
Donatelli said. "If you dump the puck in, you lose it. I think the goalies
had the most problems. On the bench, the fog was eye level and that was
The fog forced the afternoon scrimmage to be played at The Annex,
which adjoins the stadium. # The first four days of camp feature the
Stanley Can, a round-robin tournament with the 68 players divided into
four teams. Power plays have been replaced by penalty shots.
"I think the round-robin will be exciting," Page said.
Page was so excited to get camp started Saturday that he skipped breakfast
and was at the arena at 7:30 a.m., 1 1/2 hours before the first practice.
"I've never skipped breakfast before," he said. # Veteran left wing Larry
DePalma suffered a hand injury during a fight with right wing Jeff Odgers
on the first day of scrimmaging. DePalma was given precautionary X-rays
and the results were negative.
"I hit him on the face and the helmet," DePalma said. "I might have
killed him if it was all in the face. But I like Odgers. He's got guts.
I really like that."
Third-year defenseman Mark Tinordi and rookie right wing Scott Robinson
fought Sunday, with Robinson getting a bloodied nose.
9 сентября 1989 года.
Balderis confident he'll remain a Star / Minneapolis Star Tribune
Author: Tony Moton; Staff Writer
The preschool drill of "One of these things don't belong" came to mind
Thursday as the North Stars gathered to board their flight to training
Dressed in a dark, pinstripe business suit was Helmut Balderis. Around
him, his teammates were attired in jeans, shorts, T-shirts and sweats.
To a passerby, the balding, bespectacled and stately looking Balderis
easily could have been mistaken for a team physician or coach. "When he
came in with the suit, he looked like one of the medical staff," center
Bob Brooke said. "A lot of guys were saying, `Who's that new guy?' "
Today, the North Stars will begin finding out whether Balderis, 37,
does belong when practices begin at Wings Stadium. Balderis, a legendary
Soviet national-team player from Riga, Latvia, is coming out of semiretirement
to pursue his goal of playing in the NHL.
A 12th-round gamble in June's draft, Balderis was given approval by
the Soviet sports federation to try out for the Stars, who believe that
time hasn't robbed him of his skills. In 12 Soviet seasons, he had 407
goals and 314 assists in 609 games.
Last month, general manager Jack Ferreira said he felt good after visiting
Latvia to watch Balderis work out while coaching the Dynamo Riga team.
"I was impressed enough to come away with the feeling that he's a lot better
than a 12th-round pick," Ferreira said. "Let's just say that because he
was 37 years old, I wasn't discouraged."
When Balderis was at the top of his game, he was considered a deft passer,
scorer and skater. He helped lead the Soviets to three world titles and
played for a silver-medal Olympic team. The story goes that Balderis was
the only Soviet player to congratulate coach Herb Brooks after the U.S.
team's historic victory in the 1980 Olympics.
Balderis' connection with the Stars is team doctor George Nagobads,
a Latvia native who has been a long-time Gophers and U.S. national-team
doctor. Balderis had contemplated playing in the NHL since 1985 after ending
his Soviet career, but Nagobads said Balderis wasn't going to be allowed
to play in any other country except Japan. The Soviets apparently figured
Balderis could haunt them in international play. Teams from Germany, Finland
and Switzerland wanted Balderis, and the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple
Leafs showed a strong interest.
For the next four years, however, Balderis served as a player/coach
in Japan, playing in about 10 to 12 exhibition games each season. Stars
scout Chuck Grillo saw Balderis skate in Japan two years ago and, with
encouragement from Nagobads, the Stars began thinking seriously about the
aging center last spring.
"When I saw him, I didn't think he had lost any of his skills," Grillo
said. "He might be the best 12th-round pick ever."
Balderis is hoping that's the case. "I had offers all the time to come
and play here, but I couldn't get out," he said through Nagobads, who has
been his interpreter. "It has always been my dream to play."
Balderis and his wife, Anita, arrived in the Twin Cities this week and
will stay at Nagobads' home should Balderis make the team. If he succeeds,
the Stars already have agreed on a contract with him, and he would like
to bring his two teenage daughters to the United States.
"I know I can still skate, stick-handle and shoot," Balderis said. "There
is a possibility that something isn't as crisp as it used to be."
But in the next breath, Balderis mentions Guy LaFleur, who made a comeback
last season at 37 with the New York Rangers. "What do you think of LaFleur?"
A better question might be: What do the players think of Balderis? After
playing in informal scrimmages with Stars veterans at Burnsville, Balderis
received favorable marks. "He's fast," defenseman Larry Murphy said. "He's
got some great moves. He's like Neal Broten in setting up passes. We weren't
checking out there, but he passes very well."
Said Brooke: "It's really hard to tell when you're just having fun for
a couple days. But he showed he had a great pair of hands and he can skate.
He's nifty with the puck."
Players had a closer look at Balderis during Friday's physicals. The
5-10, 181-pounder probably has the best-developed leg muscles in camp.
Nagobads credits Balderis' background as a figure skater with helping him
develop a quick, fluid skating style.
"He's powerful," Murphy said. "I was shoving around in the corners with
him and he's strong. He's got experience, and that's what he's got the
Balderis is expected to help the Stars' power play from the point, but
he said he thinks he can do more.
When asked whether he could play as well as nine-time league MVP Wayne
Gretzky, Balderis said, "Not exactly. He is younger. But if the other defenseman
are going to be as gentle against me as they have been against him, then
I will be pretty close to Gretzky's caliber."
At that point, Balderis certainly will have proven he belongs.