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июля 2003 года. July 20, 2003
Will This Star (Fedorov) Burn Brightly or Fade Out? - Los Angeles Times
When he wants to be, Sergei Fedorov is electrifying. Dominant. Among the best players in the world.
When the swift, graceful Russian is motivated, he can manipulate momentum to his will. Because of his prescient passing, he's a scoring threat on the power play. Because of his speed and the defensive instincts he honed during his formative years with the legendary Red Army team, he can turn a manpower disadvantage into an advantage. And with a quick shot and sturdy but elegant, 6-foot-1 frame, he can be an impact player at even strength.
When he wants to be.
When he doesn't want to maximize his abundant physical gifts and shrewd intelligence, when he takes the easy way out, as he has been known to do, he can be invisible. A pale blond ghost with only a vapor trail to attest to his presence.
Which Fedorov did the Mighty Ducks sign Saturday?
The clever, skillful player who accepted an ensemble role in Detroit and won the Stanley Cup three times in six seasons, the center who adapted surprisingly well to playing defense when inscrutable genius Scotty Bowman moved him back there?
Or the willful, sometimes moody player who more than once faced teammates' ire when they believed he lacked passion and commitment?
Speaking by telephone from Moscow, Fedorov insisted he's ready to be the go-to guy for the Ducks next season, as he will have to be following Paul Kariya's departure for Colorado. All of which sounds good, but even at 33, with more than a decade's NHL experience on his glittering resume, he carries with him some questions.
If he can be to youngsters such as Stanislav Chistov the mentor and model Igor Larionov was to him in Detroit, he will be a success. If he can't or won't, the Ducks won't come closer to the Stanley Cup than a visit to the Hall of Fame in Toronto.
The Red Wings always seemed to be Steve Yzerman's team or Brendan Shanahan's team or Chris Chelios' team, a group that weathered triumph and tragedy with equal poise. Excellence was demanded daily. Fedorov didn't always give it, although he said Saturday he hadn't clashed with his teammates.
"This will be a very different environment. I'm up for the challenge," he said. "I enjoy the thrill of the challenge that I will be the leading player. It's more work for me, maybe I pretty much already played that role in Detroit, although nobody gave me credit."
He twice won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward and was voted the league's most valuable player in 1994, when he reached career-highs with 56 goals and 120 points. Yet, the Red Wings didn't win the Cup in his individual best seasons. They won when he was a supporting player in their galaxy of stars, not the most brightly burning orb.
For the Ducks, whose run to the Cup finals was built on superb goaltending, stalwart defense and opportunistic scoring, a 70-point season from Fedorov could be enough to install them in the upper echelon in the West. In a league that allows its most skillful players to be turned into defense-minded drones to perpetuate an illusion of parity, Fedorov can play solid defense and create offensive sparks.
"He was the guy that, as a coach, you put on the ice and said, 'We have to get it done,' and he got it done," said Duck General Manager Bryan Murray, who coached him in Detroit. "I talked to [Coach] Mike Babcock at length and our agenda is to make this guy an important player on the ice and off the ice."
If Fedorov is ready to do that, great. If he came here to win, not because his ego was bruised when the Red Wings withdrew offers that would have paid him $10 million a year, and if he exerts himself on a consistent basis, the Ducks will be a force in the West and a Cup contender. They'll also leave the Kings in the dust again.
The Kings filled an obvious need by acquiring Roman Cechmanek, a fine regular-season goaltender whose playoff nerves are suspect, and they added grit by signing Trent Klatt, who has character galore but isn't in Fedorov's league skill-wise. Assume - with the inherent perils - Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh fully recover from the injuries that ruined their seasons. Assume they avoid more injuries, a risky supposition because Deadmarsh, to be productive, must throw himself into scrums and invite contact. Also assume rookie Alexander Frolov progresses and contributes more regularly next season.
Even if those assumptions become reality, the Kings can't match the depth Colorado has and Vancouver might have and the Ducks will have if Fedorov rises to this challenge. Clinging to the banner of fiscal responsibility, the Kings proclaimed they wouldn't pay Fedorov $10 million. The Ducks didn't have to pay him $10 million and added facets that might carry them far. If this plays out as Murray envisions, the Kings' only postseason appearance will be in sequels to the commercials they ran this spring during Duck playoff games.
The key word here is "if." As in, if Fedorov is willing to meet lofty expectations and if he will be a leader, things in Anaheim could be very interesting.
"I'm very comfortable," he said of taking on a key role. "I'm always up for the challenge I'm just looking at this as an exciting ride."
Or a bumpy one. It's his choice. And the Ducks' credibility may hinge