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мая 2001 года.
Blues' Gusarov makes statement with play. // Denver Post
Quiet defenseman making most of chance since Avs' trade
By Adam Thompson Denver Post Sports Writer
Monday, May 14, 2001 - His reputation may not have escalated to the level of J.D. Salinger or Marlon Brando, but around the teams he has played for, Alexei Gusarov is best known for his reticence.
A defenseman who rarely has granted interviews with St. Louis after
being acquired by the Blues from the New York Rangers on March 5, he may
be good for a quiet joke now and then, but he does not remind his new teammates
of Dick Vitale, either.
It has been a difficult year, but one that continues to improve for the 36-year-old Russian, who began the season cooling his heels as a healthy scratch with Colorado. The man who missed one game during the Avalanche's run to the 1996 Stanley Cup appeared in just nine games before Dec. 28, when the Avs shipped him to New York for a conditional draft pick.
After a modest 26 games with the Rangers, the Blues redirected Gusarov's luck. A St. Louis team desperate for defensemen after injuries to MacInnis and Chris Pronger needed emergency help on the blue line, and Gusarov was a known quantity to coach Joel Quenneville, who had coached him in Colorado.
"We felt when we acquired Goose, he has the ability and he always has played against the other team's top line," Quenneville said. "We figure matching him with Pronger against the opposition's best could work. I think when you put the two of them together, they both are pretty smart mentally and positionally and can be effective."
That was no mis-statement. With the Blues back in town to play the team that first rejected him, Gusarov finds himself paired with Pronger, the reigning Hart and Norris Trophy winner as the league's most valuable player and best defenseman. That means his main assignment is to cover the Avs' top line, centered by this year's Hart favorite, Joe Sakic.
According to MacInnis, Gusarov's ability to make a strong outlet pass keeps forecheckers from focusing solely on Pronger as the Blues move out of their own zone.
His luck also has improved off the ice. When Valeri Kamensky signed with the Rangers in 2000, Gusarov was left as the only Russian on the Avs for more than a year. Now he plays with a countryman who speaks to him in his native language, defenseman Alex Khavanov.
"Basically it's just the communication thing," said Khavanov, who grew up watching Gusarov win the gold medal with the 1984 and '88 Soviet teams. "We'll go to dinner together, have some things to discuss together. We have the same mind-set together."
So what did Gusarov have to say about the turns his career has taken this year? He declined to comment on that, but with his young sons, Vasily and Alexander, bouncing around his locker and clearly ecstatic to see their dad, he did say it was nice to be home. His wife, Sandra, lives with the boys in Evergreen this year.
"It's part of my job," he said of the time away from his family. "What I can do? I'm supposed to do my job. Doesn't matter if I'm home or far away from home."