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|29 декабря 2000
Gusarov was investment worth keeping; // Denver Post
The Avalanche's Thursday trade of defenseman Alexei Gusarov to the Rangers for a fifth-round draft choice means that the Avs now have only seven players remaining from the 1996 Stanley Cup champions - Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, Adam Deadmarsh, Stephane Yelle, Jon Klemm and Patrick Roy.
Foote has the most cause to miss the enigmatic Gusarov.
In 1991, Foote joined the horrible Quebec Nordiques as a 20-year- old rookie and was paired for the first time in a defensive tandem with Gusarov. According to official NHL records - ahem - the former Soviet Red Army and USSR national team player then was 26.
'I don't think there's another Goose out there,' Foote said. 'I think he was really undervalued. You go back to the one championship this team has, and he was a big part of it. I think even then, he didn't get enough credit.
'That's another part of Goose's character, though. He kept things quiet. Hestayed out of everything and just showed up to play. I don't think Colorado fanssaw him in his true prime, and I owe a lot to him.'
I'm on record: Gusarov shouldn't have been exiled to being a nightly scratch. So, absolutely, the belief here is that the trade is a mistake. Gusarov is making $1.2 million this season, and it was hard to economically justify having a guy making that much earning it by eating popcorn during the games. This trade saves the Avs about $600,000 over the remainder of the season, and only the most naive won't acknowledge that bang-for-the-buck economics have to be considered in the NHL at the verge of the real new millennium. (Either that, or accept that tickets for mediocre seats will be $225 within two years.)
And Colorado general manager Pierre Lacroix could have done worse by Gusarov. Now the veteran Russian joins friends on the Rangers, including Valeri Kamensky. Their mutual Russian-speaking agent, Paul Theofanous, is based in New York.
Yet given the physical toll of the NHL, and the grind of the stretch run and the playoffs, a continued Colorado investment in Gusarov would have been justifiable - even if he was a spare tire. He's getting older and his lack of recuperative powers when injured is legendary, but he still could be effective dressing most nights for Colorado.
Chances are, the Avs in the next few months will either go through an injury siege or other circumstances that cause them to rue not keeping Gusarov around.
Although he played here over five years, Colorado didn't get to know him. If it seems that we in the media sometimes seem fixated on Gusarov, this is a confession: The cloak of mystery he always wore was intriguing.
Not once in the Denver tenure of the franchise did Gusarov ever consent to be interviewed on the team's radio and television broadcasts. As time went on, it became obvious that Gusarov understood and could speak English far better than he let on. I'll never forget walking by him one time, when he was on the phone. We waved hello, and then I heard the Russian defenseman - who professed being unable to speak more than a few words in English - say on the phone that life was great because he got to talk with reporters.
About 20 seconds later, it hit me: Gusarov said it in English.
A year ago, he reluctantly - and briefly - answered questions about the World War II experiences of his parents during the German siege of Leningrad, the Gusarov birthplace which now is again known as St. Petersburg.
His parents were very young, he said, but they survived the siege that cost the lives of as many as 1 million Leningrad civilians. After the opening of a supply line across Lake Lagoda, his father went off to fight the Germans. His father was 12.
Gusarov had some good hockey left in him. And probably more stories we'll never hear.