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февраля 2004 года.
Blues Insider: AK isn't OK this season - Post-Dispatch
By Tom Timmermann
Over the past three years, defenseman Alexander Khavanov has been one of the most dependable players on the Blues. Coming into this season, he had appeared in 236 of the 246 regular-season games since he joined the team. Only Dallas Drake, with 242, had appeared in more in that time.
This year, however, has not gone smoothly, just about right from the start. Khavanov has been injured and has played in a position where he's not comfortable, and his play has suffered. He has been out since taking a puck off the inside of his right ankle on Jan. 29 against Vancouver and his return is still a ways off. He has appeared in just 39 games, and even if he were to return to action on Thursday at Colorado, which is the best-case scenario, he will play in no more than 60 games this season.
"This is a very different year," Khavanov said last week as he stayed behind in St. Louis while his teammates left for a road trip. "In the three years before this, I never had to leave a game with an injury. When I got hurt, I was still able to play. It's happened three times this year, all with the right leg. It's something new this year."
Khavanov missed just two games to injury during his years playing in Russia but he has missed 16 this season (plus being a healthy scratch in five others). His season opened with him breaking his big toe in the Blues' first game, which kept him out for six games. Later, he took a skate blade to the inside of his thigh, which didn't cause him to miss any games but which left him with a nasty gash about five inches long that required immediate treatment. Finally, he got a deep bone bruise on his ankle after being hit by a puck. The injury seemed to be making progress, but lately fluid has begun building up around the ankle. Since the injury is right where Khavanov ties his skate, every time he goes on the ice just makes the ankle hurt some more. After the Blues' weekend road trip, which he didn't go on, he will have missed 13 games this time.
That's the physical effect. Psychologically, Khavanov has not been able to build up the confidence he has needed this season. Khavanov prefers to play on the left side on defense, but he played on the right last season out of necessity and did it well. This season, it hasn't worked out well. He thinks one of the main reasons is that a year ago, he was able to build his confidence up on the left before moving to the right. This year, that confidence has been missing.
"There is no struggle on the ice," he said. "It's just the way it started. The first game I broke a toe, I was out for three weeks. I thought I had come back, they put me on the left, things start to get better, then you've got a bone bruise. That's not a struggle on the ice, it's a struggle with injuries. . . . This is probably the first time in my life I missed that many games and had that many injuries. "I never was in a situation like that, so how bad would you feel if you always had expectations for yourself and you go out in that first game and break your toe and you go out? That's not an explanation for the struggles, but it's a reason for a lot of things not going the right way. My confidence hasn't had a chance to come back. As soon as you expect things from yourself, you get injured. Some times enough is just enough."
Khavanov didn't like playing out of position on the right side, a situation that he feels led to him making some key turnovers that led to opposing goals. But he is not one to question coaching decisions, even after being an occasional healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career.
"This group of coaches has treated me better than anybody was treated in the NHL," Khavanov said. "I have as much trust in them as I have trust in myself and this group in the locker room. I'm not questioning them."
When Khavanov is ready to play again - which could be later this week - it will create a crowded blueline for the Blues. Barring other injuries, Khavanov's return to the roster would likely mean Matt Walker, who doesn't have to clear waivers, would be sent to Worcester. But even then, the Blues would have one defenseman who has seen a lot of action this season who would be scratched on a regular basis.
Khavanov has gone on record saying he doesn't want to play anywhere other than St. Louis. If he were traded, he would finish out the season and then return to Russia to finish his career. To Khavanov, it's not about being selfish. It's about loyalty to the team that gave him a chance in the NHL and his belief that he would not be as good a player with another team.
"I feel great about St. Louis," he said. "They picked me up when I was 27 and gave me a chance to come over and play in the best league in the world with the best players. As far as other teams go, I was there for 27 years and no one wanted to look at me. I trust the organization and there's a great feeling to that.
"What I mean is, I wouldn't be able to be the same player if I was in a different organization. I have a great feeling for the city and the organization. It would affect me in every game."
18 октября. Защитник «Торонто» Александр Хаванов:
У Халла иссякли эмоции // "Советский Спорт"
13 сентября. Khavanov a key building block
- Toronto Sun
27 сентября. Хаванов покидает СКА и Россию. Почему
- не знает даже Михайлов. // "Спорт-Экспресс"
22 февраля. Blues Insider: AK isn't OK this season
18 октября. Защитник «Торонто» Александр Хаванов: У Халла иссякли эмоции // "Советский Спорт"
13 сентября. Khavanov a key building block - Toronto Sun
27 сентября. Хаванов покидает СКА и Россию. Почему - не знает даже Михайлов. // "Спорт-Экспресс"
22 февраля. Blues Insider: AK isn't OK this season - Post-Dispatch