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Devils' Kamensky eager for debut // Star-Ledger
BY RICH CHERE
After one practice session at South Mountain Arena, Devils center Scott Gomez was able to describe the similarities between newly acquired winger Valeri Kamensky and former linemate Alexander Mogilny.
"They're both Russian," Gomez said succinctly.
At this stage in Kamensky's career, that may be his only similarity to Mogilny, who scored 43 goals as Gomez's winger last season and has 15 goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Kamensky is 35, has endured some serious injuries in recent years and has been criticized for having a questionable work ethic.
But after being acquired on Wednesday by the Devils from the Dallas Stars in a swap for minor-league defenseman Andre Lakos and future considerations, Kamensky has another chance to silence his critics. He will make his Devils debut this afternoon at Continental Airlines Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes, skating on a line with Gomez and rookie Christian Berglund.
"This is a big chance for me. I want to help this team," Kamensky said yesterday. "I still believe I'm a good player. I know how to play hockey. I'm healthy now. I want to play a couple more years, or forever."
The Devils would be thrilled with 36 strong games to finish the regular
season and an inspired postseason from Kamensky. If he is anything near
the player who scored 38 goals and helped the Colorado Avalanche win the
Stanley Cup in 1996, it would constitute one of general manager Lou Lamoriello's
"I didn't have a chance to play, really play, in Dallas," Kamensky said. "I played just 24 games. They don't like my style, how I play. That's it.
"I had lots of (physical) problems with the Rangers -- a bruised kidney, broken arm. I'm completely healthy now."
Coach Larry Robinson said he has heard the criticism of Kamensky, but he won't pass judgment until he sees for himself.
"I heard that about Alex (Mogilny) when he first came here and Alex was a pleasure to watch," Robinson said. "(Kamensky) was a great player and probably still is. You get that knock against you and it's tough to shake. He was filled with injuries when he was (with the Rangers). He never complains, but he wasn't 100 percent when he was there. It's unfair to make a judgment on any person until you see him play."
Kamensky had three goals and six assists in 24 games this season with the Stars. He signed a two-year, $2.7 million contract with Dallas, but never seemed to fit into coach Ken Hitchcock's system.
"Everything bad is behind me. I'm looking forward. Maybe it was just bad luck," Kamensky said.
And his time with the Rangers?
"Outside the game, they were great guys and a great organization," he said. "I had a good time. I just played bad. That's life. I'm very happy about this (trade). It's a chance to play on maybe the best team in the league. I've heard a lot about this team."
Now he has a chance to show the Devils that everything they've heard
about him isn't true.