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Fedorov hopes Wings fans remember the good times, not his departure - Booth Newspapers
By Ansar Khan
DETROIT -- Sergei Fedorov played in countless pressure-packed playoff games during his 13 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.
None of them, in his mind, can possibly be as nerve-wracking as his highly anticipated return to Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday as a member of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
"I'm not looking forward to it, exactly. I'm kind of anxious to get this one out of the way," Fedorov said. "It's a very strange game for me.
"But things happen for a reason. You have to not think too much about it, just do my game."
When Fedorov signed a five-year, $40 million free-agent contract with Anaheim on July 19, he left behind a legacy as one of the most gifted and enigmatic players to wear the winged wheel. He spurned several offers to stay, including a five-year, $50 million proposal personally delivered by owner Mike Ilitch more than one year ago.
As he begins a new chapter in his life, he wonders what kind of reaction he'll receive from his former fans.
"I thought a little bit about it. I don't know what to expect," Fedorov said in a telephone interview last week. "In newspapers and media, and by some (Wings) officials, I was not (portrayed) in a pleasant light. I'm not sure what story the fans got. I know one thing, with my old teammates there I brought a few Stanley Cups (three) to the city. I hope the Red Wings fans remember that."
"I know he's going to be pretty nervous coming in here," Wings goaltender Manny Legace said. "The fans will probably give him a little heat, so it's going to be interesting to see what happens."
Fedorov insists he's not bitter at the organization.
"I'm not upset at all, just taking it in stride," he said. "I understand somebody has to leave and they have to say something. It doesn't really bother me or affect me. (But) some of the things weren't accurate."
Fedorov has given only vague reasons for his departure. He has talked about wanting a larger role and more ice time. But he's mostly addressed the issue by simply saying it was time to leave. And that hasn't changed.
"I'm not going to go there," Fedorov said. "It's old news, it's in the past. Both sides have moved on."
Only July 2, the day after Fedorov became an unrestricted free agent, his agent, Pat Brisson, slammed the door shut on his return to the Wings. Brisson said at the time that Fedorov "feels liberated," comparing his departure from Detroit with his defection from the Soviet Union in 1990.
That ruffled a few feathers on the Wings.
"Just some of the things he said in the news bothered me a little bit," Legace said. "The town welcomed him for 13 years, treated him like a movie star, put him on a pedestal, they loved him here. To say some of the stuff he did, the guys didn't think it was right. But Sergei's Sergei sometimes, doesn't think."
Fedorov has not remained close to any of his former teammates, speaking to only one, Chris Chelios, since he left. But he hasn't been forgotten.
"Sergei was a great teammate, a great friend to a lot of people in here," Kris Draper said. "We won three Stanley Cups with him and obviously he was a huge part of it."
Said Legace: "He was one of the guys who took me in and really made me feel good about being part of the Red Wings. He had me over to his house for dinner, took me out on the town. He made me feel right at home, so it's going to be weird (playing against him)."
After a slow start, Fedorov and Anaheim have been playing better lately. He has three goals in his last three games and leads the Ducks with 20 points but has a minus-seven rating. His club has earned at least one point in 11 straight games (4-0-3-4) heading into tonight's contest in Columbus. Despite a promise of more ice time from Anaheim management, Fedorov is averaging about the same minutes per game (21:25) as he did last season (21:11).
Getting accustomed to coach Mike Babcock's defensive-oriented, puck pursuit system, as opposed to the Wings' puck-possession style, has been the biggest adjustment.
"It's still something I have to figure out, but things are going fine," Fedorov said. "We're getting to the point where we're playing well as a team. But we have to finish games when we're leading by a goal. Sometimes we play a little conservative, a little too careful with the puck (late in games) instead of playing the way we played at the start of the game."
Fedorov said he enjoys living in Southern California.
"It's definitely different," he said. "(The climate) is easier on the body. Sometimes change is maybe good for you."
Fedorov can opt out of his contract after two years. Despite his acrimonious split with the Wings, at least one club official said they would welcome him back at that point.
"It never crossed my mind," Fedorov said. "I like it here."
After practicing Monday with the full team for the first time since
he reaggravated his groin injury two weeks ago, goalie Dominik Hasek said
he thinks he'll he ready to play Wednesday. Coach Dave Lewis, however,
said Legace will most likely start. Legace, a runner-up for NHL defensive
player of the week honors, has won three straight games, allowing just
two goals. Forward Ray Whitney (pulled groin) didn't practice and will
miss his seventh straight game on Wednesday.
A look back on Fedorov's departure
A timeline of Sergei Fedorov's split with the Detroit Red Wings:
November 2002: Wings owner Mike Ilitch personally offers Fedorov a five-year contract worth $50 million. Fedorov tells Ilitch he's having personal problems (divorce from Anna Kournikova, in the process of firing agents Mike Liut and Brian Lawton) and needs time to think.
January 2003: Fedorov hires Pat Brisson has his new agent. Negotiations with Wings are still going nowhere. The club reduces its offer to four years at $40 million.
February: For the first time, Fedorov gives a strong indication that he's unhappy in Detroit and wants out, creating a stir by complaining about his lack of ice time after a 5-3 loss in Colorado.
June: Frustrated by a complete lack of progress in contract talks, Wings general manager Ken Holland withdraws the four-year, $40 million offer, telling Fedorov's agent to explore the market and check back with him.
Late June: Quietly, the Wings make Fedorov an offer of four years at $32 million. Not surprisingly, it is rejected. Brisson makes counter-proposals, including a creative deal that would pay Fedorov a base salary of $7.5 million for five years in addition to $18 million in deferred payments over 20 years beginning in 2009.
July 1: Fedorov is officially an unrestricted free agent and Brisson immediately contacts several teams, sending each a promotional video of Fedorov. It's unclear whether it contained any footage of his play during the Wings' first-round playoff loss to Anaheim.
July 2: Brisson publicly declares Fedorov will not re-sign with the Wings under any circumstances. He says Fedorov feels "liberated," much like he did after his defection from the Soviet Union in 1990.
Early July: Ilitch makes one final attempt to keep Fedorov, calling him to try to convince him to stay.
July 19: Fedorov signs a five-year, $40 million contract with Anaheim, which had money to spend after declining to make Paul Kariya a qualifying offer. (Kariya signed with Colorado on July 3). Fedorov will earn $10 million this season and $6 million in 2004-05, after which he has an option to become an unrestricted free agent or renew the deal for $8 million a year for each of the following three seasons. Bonuses could increase the total value of the pact by $5 million.
- Ansar Khan
30 октября. Fedorov Has Strong Rush With Ducks
- Los Angeles Times
2 октября. A Mighty Winner Sergei Fedorov - Los
25 июля. Chance to Lead Swayed Fedorov - ЛА Таймс
30 октября. Fedorov Has Strong Rush With Ducks - Los Angeles Times
2 октября. A Mighty Winner Sergei Fedorov - Los Angeles Times
25 июля. Chance to Lead Swayed Fedorov - ЛА Таймс