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Rambler's Top100

11 января 2002 года.
Rookies immune to failure (Kovalchuk and Heatley) // accessatlanta.com
Steve Hummer - Staff 

So, Ilya Kovalchuk, do you recall the first English words you mastered? 

"Thank you," said the youngest Thrasher, no interpreter required for that response. 

In turn, Dany Heatley, what utterances have you picked up from your Russian road roomie? 

"I got the swear words down pretty well. All the basics," said the other half of one of the great collaborations of youth this old town has seen. 

There is the beauty of this relationship. Kovalchuk and Heatley seem to have it all covered, from the polite to the profane and all stops in between. Way beyond their years, the rookies have taken on the look of a complete set. "We feed off each other" is how Heatley puts it. What a feast it has been, even in time of Thrashers famine. 

But, really, don't they speak the same language --- that unmistakable dialect of talent in a hurry? 

This has gone beyond precocious and into the realm of the ridiculous. 

"Twenty-one years old [as Heatley will be in 10 days] and 18 years old, and they're carrying an NHL team," said Thrashers center Bob Corkum. Of course, that may say almost as much about the state of the team with the NHL's worst record as it does the two young stars. 

"If the game is tight, and we need a goal, the guys look at them to try to bring us back," coach Curt Fraser said. 

When the Thrashers beat Ottawa in overtime Wednesday to break the latest losing streak, the go-home goal naturally came off Kovalchuk's stick. Combine his 20 goals this season with Heatley's 16, and they account for 35 percent of the Thrashers' team total. Their 70 points are 26 percent of the Thrashers' output. The future is knocking out the back of the net. 

Everywhere else in the world it is the accepted theory that the rookie learns at the knee of the veteran. The kid is brought slowly into the hostile world of the big leagues, nurtured by those who have learned the hard way. That model has been destroyed by a three-year-old hockey team. Turned inside-out and upside-down. The Thrashers can't pile enough upon shoulders that have yet to fill out to their full width. 

More than just the hope for the future, Kovalchuk and Heatley are the now. One from Calgary, Canada, the other from Tver, Russia; they have been thrown together with the common goal of giving Atlanta some reason to believe in hockey. Attendance dwindles. Returns diminish. Two rookies stand as sole reasons to give this franchise any benefit of the doubt. 

Neither skates away from the proposition. 

"You couldn't ask for a better situation. You want the pressure, you want the heat on you," said Heatley. 

"I like it when the team and the coach relies on me," Kovalchuk said. 

The losing is an infection that has only begun to attack these rookies. This is what should concern a Thrashers fan above all else: That Kovalchuk and Heatley are not scarred by this season. They matter above everyone else. 

They seem to be fighting off the effects well. 

"You're in the NHL, every day is fun coming to the rink. That's your job. That was your dream when you were younger," Heatley said. 

"We need the enthusiasm they bring each and every night," Corkum said. "When you've been around awhile, it's easy to get frustrated because you're used to the way things were and what you used to be able to do." 

"Our time will come. We will win and there will be a big celebration," Kovalchuk said, this time through a helpful interpreter, Inar Treiguts, the team's massage therapist. It sounded good in any language. 

Страничка Ильи Ковальчука на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


8 октября. Ковальчук и «Трэшерс» наконец-то договорились.

9 сентября. Kovalchuk may miss start of camp - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

9 сентября. Илья Ковальчук: "50 процентов за "Атланту", 50 - за "Химик" и "Нью-Йорк" - Спорт-Экспресс

25 августа. Илья Ковальчук: "До первого декабря я могу уехать из "Химика" - Спорт-Экспресс

25 августа. Форвард Илья Ковальчук: Я еду в «Химик» - Советский Спорт

18 августа. Форвард сборной России Илья Ковальчук: Суперлига? Если не позовут в «Атланту» - Советский Спорт

29 марта .Илья Ковальчук: "Это был ужасный сезон" - Спорт-Экспресс


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