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января 2002 года.
Hawks' Mironov bounces back // The Chicago Tribune
Early in life Boris Mironov learned to pick himself up and move on. When the Blackhawks defenseman was a little boy in Moscow, he and his big brother, Dmitri, used to go on bike rides with their father, Oleg, a champion cyclist who competed in international tournaments for the former Soviet Union.
"I was 5 or 6 years old," Mironov remembered. "My father put me on a small bike and off we would go. He and Dmitri rode fast. I tried so hard to catch those guys. All of a sudden I hit a bump. I flew off my bike and hit the cement."
When Mironov got up, he was minus two front teeth.
He moved on. Instead of pursuing a sports career in cycling as his father had, he became a hockey player and followed now-retired brother Dmitri into the NHL.
Emotionally, last season was perhaps the most painful experience of Boris Mironov's eight-year NHL career. His game had fallen off. He was out of shape when he arrived at training camp and had a hard time catching up. Disgruntled because the Hawks were going to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year, Hawks fans made Mironov the focal point of their frustration.
During the summer, when the Hawks had an Internet town hall meeting, they took 525 hits on the Web site and many were slams at Mironov.
General manager Mike Smith came to his defense.
"It's getting sickening listening to fans pick on Boris," Smith said. "He's a Chicago Blackhawk, so get used to it!"
A little more than halfway through this season it's safe to say fans have gotten used to it. The Hawks have the second-best record in the league and on the plus/minus scale Mironov is the team's top defenseman with a stellar rating of plus-15.
In Sunday's 3-2 victory over Dallas, he assisted on Tony Amonte's tying goal midway through the second period and on Steve Sullivan's winning goal early in the third. When a shot struck him on the side of the head with 7 minutes 16 seconds remaining, cheers for his contributions accompanied him to the bench.
Bashing Boris has become very bad form.
"I don't want to talk about last year," the 29-year-old defenseman said when asked to take a glance in the rear-view mirror. "That's history.
"Now we have a great coaching staff and a great team to talk about. We have a new coach, Brian [Sutter], who gets guys turned on every game. Right spot. Right time. For players to have a coach like that, it's great.
"Brian doesn't prepare us to play the game; he prepares us to win the game. It's a great atmosphere we have in our dressing room. It's a joy to play."
Smith credits Sutter for bringing out the best in Mironov.
"[Mironov] had to get his confidence back," Smith said. "Brian gave Boris a role he could fulfill. Then, when he had his confidence back, Brian gradually increased his responsibilities. All year he has felt good about how he is being used.
"Since we ended our nine-game winless streak (Dec. 3 in Montreal) three players have raised their games?Tony Amonte, Steve Sullivan and Boris Mironov. When your best players raise their games it makes the whole team better."
In Sutter's opinion, Mironov took his game to another level during that 3-2 victory in Montreal. He was on the ice for 25 minutes 34 seconds, assisted on the winning goal and also contributed four hits, two takeaways and a blocked shot.
"Boris climbed the ladder," Sutter said. "I looked at that game in Montreal and I saw he was up there. When I see somebody up there I try to make him understand he should play up there all the time."
A byproduct of Mironov's outstanding season is his selection to the Russian team for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City next month. He also was a member of the Russian team that lost to the Czech Republic in the championship game of the 1998 Olympics.
"I never played in the Stanley Cup finals, but I think the Olympics
are the same," Mironov said. "It was really good to hear I made the Russian
team, but I don't really think about it very much. Right now we all have
to concentrate on our team, the Chicago Blackhawks."