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March 13, 1998
Kravchuk content to stay with Sens
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun
Igor Kravchuk has heard talk he will soon be on the move, but he'd rather not go anywhere.
With the NHL's trading deadline set for March 24 at 3 p.m., the Senators' veteran defenceman expects to be surrounded by speculation for the next 11 days. However, he says he wants to be a part of the future in Ottawa.
An unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, Kravchuk, 31, was acquired in the controversial deal for Steve Duchesne last summer. He will be heavily sought after as teams gear up for the playoffs.
Looking for somebody to round out their top-four blueliners, the Detroit Red Wings have been knocking on GM Pierre Gauthier's door all season. Vancouver coach Mike Keenan has offered defenceman Jyrki Lumme as part of a deal.
Both teams have been scouting Ottawa, while Ottawa assistant GM Ray Shero was in Montreal watching the Canucks game against the Habs.
"I want to stay here. I've made that clear from the start of the season," said Kravchuk yesterday. "I like it here and I've enjoyed being part of this team. I just hope that everything can work out so that I can stay here.
"I'm very happy. I'm getting a chance to play every night and I'm getting an opportunity to contribute. That's all you can ask. I don't read the papers, but I've heard my name is in them. I just have to concentrate on playing."
Whether he'll finish the season in Ottawa could depend a lot on what happens in contract negotiations between Kravchuk's agent Scott Norton and Gauthier in the weeks before the deadline.
The two started discussions in January, but they were put on hold because of Gauthier's participation with Team Canada at the Olympics in Nagano. Norton and Gauthier resumed their talks last week in an attempt to work out a deal.
Making $1.05 million US this season, Kravchuk could be in line for a healthy raise. He has been one of the club's top defencemen all season, was selected for the all-star game and played for Russia in the Olympics.
"Right now, (the contract) is a touchy subject. We've had discussions but there's nothing to speak of because there's no deal in place," said Norton yesterday.
Gauthier has made it clear to management of the Wings and Canucks he won't give away Kravchuk, especially with the club in the middle of the playoff race.
Unless they get something substantial in return, the Senators would be hard pressed to give up Kravchuk, because that could be seen as weakening the team's playoff hopes down the stretch. That would not sit well with the fans.
Kravchuk is also playing well of late. He had one of his best
performances of the season with a goal and two assists in Wednesday's 5-3
win over the Florida Panthers at the Corel Centre. That's something the
Senators would like to see on a consistent basis.
"We expect Alexei Yashin to be one of our leaders up front and I think we expect the same thing from Igor Kravchuk back there," said Martin. "We think that he should be one of our top guys the rest of the way."
But playoff drive or not, Gauthier might have his hand forced. If Kravchuk's not signed before the deadline, Gauthier may have to trade him or risk losing him to free agency and get nothing in return.
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun
Igor Kravchuk is sick of the questions, tired of the comparisons and wishes everybody would just get on with their lives.
"I'm not the guy who pulled the trade," said the Senators veteran defenceman yesterday.
As the St. Louis Blues arrive in town for their only visit to the Corel Centre tomorrow night, Kravchuk expects the talk to reach a feverish pitch as popular defenceman Steve Duchesne makes his return to Ottawa.
Traded to the Senators from St. Louis in exchange for Duchesne on Aug. 25, Kravchuk, 31, didn't circle the date with the Blues on his calendar at the start of the season because he doesn't see any significance with this game.
"It's always the same questions," said Kravchuk, who was a little testy. "It's history. I used to play for the Blues. Now, I play for the Senators. You play for the team that you play for and there's no use griping about it.
"Some people like Steve because he's a good player and he scored the goal (against Buffalo) which put this team into the playoffs. He's very popular here. There's nothing I can do about it.
"He had 50-something points. He did a lot of good things for this organization. Good guys always get traded in this league. Jeremy Roenick was traded in Chicago, Ed Belfour and Steve Larmer. It happens. You move on."
If it isn't clear already what bothers Kravchuk the most are the comparisons to Duchesne. The situation hasn't been helped by the fact that the offensively gifted Duchesne has five goals and 20 assists for 25 points in St. Louis.
While the Ottawa power play misses Duchesne, Kravchuk brings a different element to the team. He's played upwards of 25 minutes and has proved valuable in showing the ropes to rookie Chris Phillips.
Kravchuk is relied on heavily. He has decent numbers with five goals and 13 assists for 18 points in 30 games. He was selected for the Russian Olympic team. He just wants the comparisons to Duchesne to stop.
"You have to live with it. You can't compare the way Steve Duchesne plays to the way I play. There's no use comparing one player to another player because it's not going to help the team," said Kravchuk.
"You're not always going to have the same player. What happens,
happens. We played in a different conference (in St. Louis). We only played
one game a year here. I do things differently than Steve. He does things
differently from me.
Nobody would question Kravchuk's efforts or his contribution defensively. Looking for scoring, coach Jacques Martin would like to see all his blueliners -- including Kravchuk -- giving the club more offensively.
The Senators are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league with only 78 goals-for this season. The power play is ranked 11th overall in the league. The situation has to improve 5-on-5.
"(Kravchuk's) been pretty consistent," said Martin. "He's played a lot better in the last month. We're still looking for him and the other defencemen to start to give us more production. We need more from those guys."
By DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun
MONTREAL -- If Pierre Gauthier was the gloating type, he could've consider it his first round of ammunition.
For on this night, his summertime trade of Steve Duchesne did
not look so bad.
With the Senators trailing 2-1 and killing a second-period penalty, Andreas Dackell came up with the puck and raced down the left wing. Kravchuk, fending off the lackadaisical backchecking of Habs winger Mark Recchi, hurried to catch up. As he reached the net, Kravchuk was fed a beauty of a pass from Dackell and, in turn, buried it behind Andy Moog.
It would be the last goal of the night.
"It was just a matter of timing," said Kravchuk. "I had a chance to jump up and help Dackell and he made an unbelievable pass. I just got my stick on the ice. But it just shows the trust we have in each other."
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun
Who is this guy?
While Igor Kravchuk, 31, wasn't a very recognizable or popular name among Senators fans yesterday, many are convinced the veteran defenceman is going to provide a steady influence on the blueline this season.
Kravchuk, picked up in the deal which sent veteran defenceman Steve Duchesne to the St. Louis Blues late Monday, is considered a good character in the dressing room and has decent offensive skills.
Former St. Louis GM/coach Mike Keenan, who drafted Kravchuk in the third round while with Chicago in 1991-92 and later traded for him in St. Louis, said last night that Kravchuk was a key reason his club got to the Stanley Cup Final that season against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"He was the final piece to the puzzle in getting us to the finals that year," said Keenan, reached at his summer home near Collingwood. "He's a solid individual and he's going to help (the Senators).
"He has decent offensive skills. I would have used him more on the power play in St. Louis but I had (Al) MacInnis and (Chris) Pronger. I used him with Chris Chelios in Chicago and he played well in that role."
Alexei Yashin, the Sens' leading scorer last season, was disappointed to see Duchesne go. They had a special bond, and teamed up on the goal that sent the Senators to the playoffs last year.
Still, Yashin is familiar with Kravchuk -- they were together at the Russian Olympic training camp in 1992. Yashin wasn't critical of the move and respects Kravchuk's skills. It's just that Duchesne was something special.
"I'll miss (Duchesne) We played together well," said Yashin. "I
knew where he was and he knew where I was. He was able to score some big
It's possible Kravchuk won't see much time in an Ottawa uniform. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. A trade at the deadline is a possibility if a team is looking for help down the stretch.
"I don't think people know Igor Kravchuk because he played in the Western Conference," said Gauthier. "He's a good player. I watched him a lot in St. Louis and he was always solid. He just didn't get much power play time."
OTTAWA (CP) -- The Ottawa Senators have traded Steve Duchesne back to the St. Louis Blues for Igor Kravchuk in a swap of defencemen.
"Igor is a solid defenceman who excels at both ends of the ice," Senators general manager Pierre Gauthier said in announcing the trade Monday night. "He can jump in the play on offence, but his reputation is that of a top-level defensive specialist."
Translation: Duchesne wanders, Kravchuk does not, and a payroll saving is involved. Gauthier is attempting to find enough cash to re-sign flashy forward Daniel Alfredsson.
Duchesne, 32, arrived from St. Louis in August 1995 for a second-round
1996 draft pick. In 140 regular-season games with Ottawa, he scored 31
goals and assisted on 52. He also has played for Los Angeles, Philadelphia