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ноября 1999 года.
Mironov no miracle man
By K.C. Johnson Tribune Staff Writer (Chicago)
ANAHEIM -- Boris Mironov is plenty of things--a dressing-room cut-up, a rich man, a skilled, two-way defenseman--but there is one thing he clearly is not.
"I'm not a savior," Mironov said.
Those who expected Mironov to end his holdout, step onto the ice and immediately solve all the Blackhawks' problems have either been Chicago sports fans for too long--read: hopeless optimists--or recently purchased swamp land in Florida.
Simply put, the Hawks' problems go too deep for one player to fix.
Mironov, for instance, can't locate confidence for struggling goaltender Jocelyn Thibault. He can't supply offense for slumping rookie Jean-Pierre Dumont, who won't win the Calder Trophy from the minor leagues, where he was sent late Sunday after scoring just one goal in 15 games.
What Mironov can do is bring a rare combination of physical prowess and skilled play to a blue line group whose play at times has been as oddly scary as that of Blue Man Group.
And what General Manager Bob Murray and coach Lorne Molleken hope that does is create a domino effect to ease pressure on his fellow defensemen.
Murray hopes Bryan McCabe regains his form from his early years with the Islanders. Currently, McCabe is a league-worst minus-11.
Management also hopes Anders Eriksson begins to resemble the player he was at the end of last season--when he had eight points in 11 games--as opposed to the one who plays like he missed most of training camp, which Eriksson did.
"Bryan is a very caring individual and he wants the team to win and he knew we were missing a certain type of player," Murray said.
"Bryan McCabe has to be a physical defenseman who moves the puck, makes the quick, easy play, and joins the rush when he can because he can skate. Don't complicate the game. Don't try to do fancy things. I would pull him aside and tell him to play to his strengths and hopefully, now he will.
"(Mironov's signing) will help Anders because I think he's been trying to carry the load on defense. And let's face it: He isn't playing as well as last year. It will have an effect right through down the defensemen."
As for Mironov, the full spectrum of his makeup were on full display in his season debut Sunday against Edmonton.
One moment, Mironov unleashed a booming shot from the point, forcing Tommy Salo to make a cat-quick save in the opening minutes. The next, he took a senseless, cross-checking penalty that led to an Edmonton power-play goal.
But just watching Mironov--and his unique combination of size and skill--suggests he will earn most, if not all, of his $9.6 million salary over the next three years.
At 6 feet, 3 inches and 228 pounds, he has the size to deliver punishing checks--and absorb them. He also has deft hands and the skating speed to join the rush, bringing with it a potent, right-handed shot.
Granted, he finished minus-2 against Edmonton and took four penalties. He also had three shots, blocked one and skated over 22 minutes Sunday night with one practice and no game conditioning under his belt.
"I was a little tired and nervous because it had been so many months since I played," Mironov said.
"I made some mistakes and I was a little too soft. But I still feel pretty good and with a couple of more practices, things will get better."
Things need to get better for the Hawks' beleaguered defense.
The Hawks are tied with San Jose for the second-most goals allowed in the Western Conference behind Calgary. One footnote: San Jose has played four more games.
Against Edmonton, poor play in their own zone cost the Hawks four goals. Guess what got a heavy workout at Monday's practice at The Pond in Anaheim?
"We need to improve our decisions in our own zone," Molleken said.
"Any time we relax, it ends up in our net. We have to make better passes
and we have to finish checks."