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октября 1997 года.
Benching puzzles Berezin
`I can't play better if I'm sitting in the press box'
By Paul Hunter
Sergei Berezin is confused. And not just because - as he may yet discover - there are two ends to every hockey rink.
The Maple Leafs winger, never one to disguise his insecurities, was a bundle of self-doubt yesterday. He'd been a healthy scratch for Saturday's 5-4 loss to Dallas and, during the team's workout at the Gardens, there was nothing to indicate his status as puckster non grata will change tonight against the Senators.
Berezin claimed not to fully understand why he'd fallen out of favour with coach Mike Murphy.
He is, however, perceptive enough to realize it's not good for a guy who signed an $8 million (U.S.) contract during the summer and then started the season on the top line to spend games pedaling a stationary bike in the trainer's room.
``I didn't score many goals in the first seven games. I wasn't happy but I didn't think I was so bad I couldn't dress for games,'' he said.
``I haven't slept at all the last couple of days. I don't know what is going on. Nobody has talked to me. Somebody has to talk to me. I'm still part of the team, I think.''
Toronto coach Mike Murphy assumed Berezin's deficiencies were obvious.
The 25-year-old Russian is notoriously disinterested in playing defence so, if he is not scoring, he contributes little.
And Berezin is not scoring. The winger has only two goals, both in the same game. In the seven games he dressed, he had just 14 shots on goal and is a minus three.
``Since the season started, he's lost a little fire in his game,'' said Murphy of Berezin, whose 25 goals last season earned him a spot on the NHL's all-rookie team.
``He seems to drift defensively when it doesn't go well for him offensively. It's our job to bring that to his attention.
``Because he's not scoring doesn't mean we're losing games but when he doesn't check also, then it becomes a concern,'' Murphy said.
To assure that was indeed brought to Berezin's attention, Murphy invited the winger into his office for a brief, post-practice chat yesterday.
``If he didn't understand before, he does now,'' said the coach.
What troubled Berezin most about being scratched is that he got the big bucks to stay in North America because, at his best, he has a knack for putting the puck in the net.
And on a team with little offence he still represents one of Toronto's best hopes around the net.
``Defence is a part of the game but if (Murphy) wants to win the games, we have to score more goals.
``It's not enough to score two or three goals a game,'' he said.
``I'm not happy with (my production) but I can't play better if I'm sitting in the press box.''
Murphy's contention is that solid defensive play leads to scoring opportunities.
If Berezin and his linemates can turn the puck over in their own end or neutral ice, they are then in position to be driving to the net.
Berezin hasn't been doing that but Murphy says it was still a tough decision to bench a player who, in theory, is one of his top producers.
``It's hard for me to sit him out but I have to do what's right for the team, not what's right for Sergei,'' he said.
``We have 26 players and it's my responsibility to put the best 20 on
the ice every game,'' the coach said.
Страничка Сергея Березина на
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