января 1998 года.
Fedorov's passion not hockey anymore
By AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun The Detroit Red Wings are
They're concerned that Sergei Fedorov is so unconcerned - at
least about hockey.
A few days ago, Fedorov dropped by Joe Louis Arena - with his
agent Eddie Mio in tow - to pick up his 1997 Stanley Cup ring and his miniature
trophy. Then, naturally enough, talk turned to the fact that the season
has passed the halfway point and Fedorov has yet to play a game.
The Wings are offering him $5 million US a year. Fedorov wants
$6.5 million US. Usually, a player who is at odds with his team lowers
his demands as time passes. But Fedorov has raised his. When this impasse
began, he was asking for $6 million.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland was struck by the fact that
Fedorov didn't seem to care that the Wings were holding the line. Furthermore,
Fedorov apparently cared even less that he (a) had already missed half
the season and (b) is in serious danger of missing the rest of it.
Fedorov is, it seems, in love. He has fallen head over heels
for 16-year-old Anna Kournikova. She was only 15 when they became what
the gossip columnists call an item, but most of the time, she acts more
like a sophisticated young woman than a giggling teenager.
In Florida not long ago, a group of guys were whistling at her.
A typical 16-year-old might pretend she didn't hear, or might blush and
rush off in embarrassment. Kournikova stopped, looked at the men and with
a withering sneer said, "You can't afford me."
But even if she weren't wealthy on her own account - which she
is - Fedorov could afford her. This is not a case of a striking mailman
or some other hourly rated worker. This is a guy who earned more than $10
million US in the past three years.
Look at it this way. He's got $10 million in the bank. He's young
and handsome. He's got a young, beautiful girlfriend and he's in love.
So if you tell him you want him to come back to the National
Hockey League to fly all over two countries to get pounded, whacked and
slashed on a regular basis, he's going to have something to tell you: "Show
me the money."
So far, the Wings have done well in his absence. The only Western
Conference team to lose fewer games is the Dallas Stars and they've been
unable to beat the Wings in four tries.
But players and management alike are starting to worry about
what may happen if Fedorov doesn't come back soon.
For the players at least, this is a relatively recent development.
At the beginning of the year, they wanted Fedorov in the lineup. Then they
reached a point where his intransigence offended them and they decided
they wanted management to get rid of him. Now, the Wings dressing room
is a house divided, with some still angry with him, but others holding
to the opinion that the team should make a concerted effort to re-sign
After all, the toll on key players like Steve Yzerman and Nicklas
Lidstrom is going to mount as the season progresses. As key forwards in
coach Scott Bowman's system, both Yzerman and Fedorov shared substantial
two-way responsibilities. Now Yzerman has to fill that role alone.
Likewise on defence, the Wings last year relied on strong performances
from Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov. But Lidstrom is alone as an upper-echelon
defenceman in Detroit now and even though he's having a Norris Trophy season,
the weeks ahead will be daunting.
Both he and Yzerman have to travel to Vancouver next week for
the all-star game, then, in early February, the Wings go on a five-game
road trip right before Lidstrom and Yzerman have to go to Japan for the
Olympics. They then return home for only two games before another four-game
swing to the west coast.
By the end of all that, those two will be lucky if they know
where they live, let alone where they are at the moment.
But even if Fedorov were to rejoin the Wings tomorrow, management
is concerned about his conditioning.
He hasn't played a game since June 7 and has not been doing much
skating. When the team thought he was working out in Moscow, he was in
fact vacationing in Italy. Among his other favorite stops are the Bahamas
"He's totally possessed," a source in the Wings organization
said. "Anna is all he lives for."
That's why the Wings are concerned. The problem of re-signing
Fedorov is significant enough on its own, but even if they got him back,
they'd only be buying his body, not his heart.