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сентября 2001 года.
Mogilny struts his stuff // Canadian Press
Alexander Mogilny showed Toronto hockey fans during a 3-1 NHL pre-season win Thursday night over the Buffalo Sabres why the Maple Leafs were eager to sign him to a four-year contract worth more than $22-million US.
Mogilny, who scored 43 goals for New Jersey last season then jumped into the free-agent pool, made his first big splash with his new team by setting up one goal then adding two of his own in the third period. He is the dynamite sniper Toronto has been lacking.
The Russian right-winger ended a scoreless tie early in the third with a nifty bit of stickhandling that set up a Shayne Corson goal. Three minutes later, he fired in a pinpoint shot under the Buffalo crossbar.
After Chris Gratton replied for Buffalo at 9:23, Mogilny carried the puck into the Sabres' zone, looked across the ice as if he were contemplating a pass, and caught goalie Martin Biron unprepared for a quick, high wrist shot from above the right-wing cirlce at 15:44.
It was an awesome period for Mogilny, who had Nik Antropov and Corson for linemates. He'll probably be playing with Robert Reichel and Gary Roberts when the regular season begins Wednesday.
``We were just three slow guys out there, myself, Nikkie and Corse,'' Mogilny said with a chuckle. ``We were slowing the game down a bit.''
Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph played as if in mid-season form to silence the Sabres, then Mogilny took over.
``I'm trying to get used to new teammates, trying to get comfortable
in the locker-room,'' he said of his adjustment to Toronto from New Jersey.
``I'm just trying to fit in.
Coach Pat Quinn is giving Mogilny a freer reign than he had in New Jersey, where he played on a third line that had checking as well as offensive responsibilities. It should allow him to thrive.
``Every coach has his own theory and I'm just trying to get used to
this one,'' he said.
``This is a great organization,'' he said. ``It's good to be part of it.''
He wears No. 89 in remembrance of the year, 1989, he left the Soviet Union to try the NHL.
``I'm getting comfortable,'' he said of life in Toronto. ``The city is wonderful.
``I've just got to get used to the Canadian mentality again. It's really nice. The city is clean. People are nice. It's not like I didn't like New York. I love New York. But Canada is different - in a positive way.''
The media scrutiny in Canada doesn't intimidate Mogilny. He got used to it when he played for the Vancouver Canucks.
``Hockey is like a religion here in Canada,'' he said. ``I totally understand. The Maple Leafs haven't won the Cup in many, many years so I understand why the media and the fans want to see the Stanley Cup in this town. If I was a rookie it certainly would affect me differently. Not anymore. I've been through it in my career.''
He helped the Devils win the title in 2000 and was within one win of a second straight championship last spring.
``I think I can bring experience,'' he said of the contribution he hopes to make. ``In certain situations, maybe I can say certain things on the ice and on the bench that maybe guys want to hear because I've been there.
``People don't need much to get going. Hockey is a game of momentum so if you lose momentum for a second you can lose a game quick. So maybe (he can bring) a bit of experience, and a couple of goals here and there.''
He'd like to see stronger defensive play on the team, he said.
``We have of the great goaltenders, and that's the best thing going for us right now,'' he said. "We have one of the best leaders in Mats (Sundin) and a lot of role players. We've just got to tighten up in our own zone. We're a little unorganized in our zone. We've got to be more responsible but we'll work on it and get better.''
Quinn even used him to kill a penalty.
``Pat told me, `You go.' I thought, `Me, are you kidding me?' ''
The previous night in Detroit, the Red Wings used fellow sniper Brett Hull during a penalty kill against the Leafs.
``If Brett can do it, I can do it,'' Mogilny said, his subtle chuckle kicking in again.
Toronto improved to 3-4, and Buffalo slipped to 1-3. The Sabres play the Senators in Ottawa on Friday night and meet Toronto again Saturday night in Hamilton. Toronto completes its exhibition schedule at home to Detroit on Sunday night.
"It's not fun to live life in a straight line.''
Born with a deep-seated yearning for independence and a strong enough will to attain it, Alexander Mogilny has taken few paths that could be charted with a ruler. Either on or off the ice.
"Anything but straight,'' the astoundingly talented winger says with
a whimsical grin, a look that could become ingrained in Toronto's hockey
consciousness over the next four seasons.
Blessed first with hockey skills that, even at the age of 32, make jaded hockey executives gush like wide-eyed fans as they toss around adjectives like "awesome'' and "spectacular'' when describing Mogilny's on-ice magic.
But perhaps his greatest gift, and a curse he's lived with, is a personal standard for excellence that has allowed him to soar as one of the National Hockey's League's most entertaining stars yet, paradoxically, caused him to slip into self-perpetuating funks.
During those funks, his performance on the ice fell well short of both his own expectations and it became convenient to simply categorize him as enigmatic.
Talk to those who know Mogilny, those who have nurtured him through a sometimes puzzling, sometimes astonishing 12-year career, and the descriptions repeat themselves.
"Alexander can achieve anything he wants to achieve. He's so unbelievably talented, it's really up to him,'' said John Muckler, Mogilny's coach in Buffalo when the winger pumped in 76 goals for the Sabres in 1992-93.
"He knows what he wants,'' says Sabres director of player personnel Don Luce. "And once he gets it set in his mind, he gets it done.''
It is that undercurrent of determination that defines Mogilny. But, oddly, the biggest moment in his life, when he perhaps risked his life for the independence he craved, came with little choice. There was something in his personality, a growing need for freedom, that forced the Russian star to re-route his life's voyage in 1989 at the age of 20.
At the world championships in Stockholm that spring, Mogilny had a representative phone Luce, who worked for the Sabres team that drafted him a year earlier. He'd decided to defect.
An excited Luce asked that the phone at the other end be passed to Mogilny, whom he'd met once briefly. Luce recognized the voice. This was no hoax. He and Buffalo general manager Gerry Meehan were on a plane to Sweden less than five hours later.
"The decision wasn't difficult. I'd just reached the point where I couldn't grow as a person or as a player over there. I had to get to the next level,'' recalled Mogilny.
Mogilny's decision to "desert" - as it was characterized at home where military prosecutors convicted him of treason - the Soviet Central Red Army team sent shockwaves through the hockey world. This was before the Russians learned to cash in on the flow of talent to the west.
Mogilny had been both a shining light and rebellious malcontent since arriving in Moscow at the age of 15 from Khabarovsk, a city just north of Manchuria, along the Pacific coast of Siberia. This city is so far east, it's almost as close to Vancouver as it is to Moscow.
Mogilny was heralded as the future of Russian hockey but the teenager, with a fondness for cowboy boots, was already embracing the ways of the west.
And when the 20-year-old arrived in Buffalo, he quickly assimilated himself into American culture where he developed a passion for golf, fast cars and the stylish clothes his NHL salary afforded him.
"It was one big adventure," he said. "New things were happening to me and I met new people. Wonderful people. I was young. I didn't understand the danger I put myself into by doing that."
Mogilny's arrival, Meehan recalls, forced the Sabres to retool their lineup in order to get players such as Pat LaFontaine with the skill level to play with the Russian.
And his zenith was that 76-goal season. However, after an eventual trade to Vancouver and an initial 55-goal season there, Mogilny's numbers faded. In his last two full seasons with the Canucks, he managed just a combined 32 goals.
Mogilny was characterized as a malcontent in Vancouver who only performed when he was in the mood. At the trade deadline in 2000, he was dealt to New Jersey, where he became part of a Stanley Cup winner.
"I think at some point, Alex started to feel hockey was a job," Rick Dudley, his first coach in Buffalo, said this week. "When he played it was more about the money. But I believe by getting to New Jersey, he rediscovered a passion for the game. He found a joy in winning.''
Mogilny agrees that skating for the Devils, understanding his role within a greater goal, and achieving something significant as a team changed his outlook on the game.
"It's like you understand why people climb Mount Everest,'' he said of winning the Cup.
"You go through times in your career when you're not doing well and you start questioning your abilities. Can I still play? Maybe I'm not as good as I thought I was. You doubt yourself. It happened to me.
"The best thing that happened to me was getting traded out of Vancouver and going somewhere to start a new life. I started believing in myself again. I learned the game a little more. And I understand I don't have too many years left in the game so I'm enjoying it again. More than ever probably.''
So what might an unburdened Mogilny achieve in Toronto? Some observers think that, given his remarkable skills and the depth of the Leafs' talent up front, the winger will become the team's first 50-goal scorer since Dave Andreychuk.
"He's capable of that and more. Some nights you'll be amazed by what he can do,'' said Muckler. "He should be in the top 10 in scoring.''
Said Luce: "I think he's got the ability to score 50 goals. He's extremely talented. He's strong. It just becomes a matter of what he wants to do.''
Mogilny says it's not about statistics. "I don't look at the numbers any more. I haven't the last couple of years. I'll just do anything to help. Anything. I'm not as fast any more. Not as quick. But I think I can still play this game.''
3 ноября. Александр Могильный: "Мой приезд в Турин не исключен" - "Спорт-Экспресс"
30 сентября. Форвард «Нью-Джерси» Александр Могильный: Бросьте, какая Олимпиада?! // "Советский Спорт"
24 сентября. Devs` Mogilny takin' his time- New York Post
24 марта. Александр Могильный: Тяжело играть на одной ноге! - Советский Спорт