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|1 августа 2004
Морозов променял Питтсбург на Казань. . . Подборка прессы Питтсбурга.
Свободный ограниченный агент Алексей Морозов не вернется в этом году в свой клуб “Питтсбург Пингвинз”, даже если в НХЛ не будет лок-аута.
27-летний Морозов, который за 7 лет в “Питтсбурге” так никогда и не вышел на ожидаемый от него уровень игры, подписал контракт с казанской командой “Ак Барс”.
В интервью газетам Питтсбурга, Морозов заявил, что на его решение повлияло несколько факторов, но самый главный – финансовое условия предоставленные клубом из Казани, хотя он имел квалификационное предложение от “Пингвинз” на $1.8 миллиона долларов и руководство “Питтсбурга” было готово начать переговоры о многолетнем контракте.
В прошедшем сезоне Морозов разыгрался лишь к концу чемпионата, закончив его с 50 очками (16+34) – своим новым личным рекордом.
По словам россиянина, он не исключает своего возвращения в “Питтсбург” в 2005-06 гг. Остается надеется, что игра за один из ведущих клубов России придаст Морозову уверенности в своих силах и он сможет со временем раскрыть весь свой талантливый потенциал.
Morozov never hit expectations or much else
Aleksey Morozov's career with the Penguins could be finished.
It's hard to believe that general manager Craig Patrick has taken kindly to the right winger committing himself to a Russian team for the next year without an option to return if there is any semblance of an NHL season.
This, after the Penguins made a multi-year offer and a one-year offer that was worth $1.8 million.
It's one thing to commit to playing in Europe during what likely will be a lockout-shortened NHL season, at best.
It's quite another to leave oneself without an escape clause and thereby to snub your NHL team.
If Morozov has played his final game here, his Penguins career could be described as a colossal bust.
When he arrived in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1997, Morozov was hailed as the best player in the world outside of the NHL and was introduced at a Ben Roethlisberger-like news conference.
He scored seven minutes into his first game. That same day, his agent, Alex Diatchenko, said Morozov "wants to be one of the best, maybe the best. Maybe another Mario."
Morozov confidently chose No. 95, the highest number in team history.
Teammate Joe Dziedzic, of all people, was stunningly and unintentionally prophetic when he said of Morozov, "I don't think he'll change his game from the way he played in Europe."
Dziedzic added, "I hope he's as good as they say he is."
He wasn't. Not even close. Morozov never scored more than 20 goals or 50 points in the equivalent of 5 1/2 seasons.
The three obvious culprits were himself, the Penguins and the NHL.
For his part, Morozov never seemed all that interested in adapting to North America, whether that meant learning the language or adjusting his game (although he certainly learned to appreciate the finer things in Western culture, especially money).
He failed to make the simplest alterations, driving coaches crazy with his reluctance to shoot (career average: 1.48 shots per game) and his failure to realize that the fastest way to the net is a straight line, not a figure-eight.
He's a great kid, but you never got the feeling he wanted to be a star. He was shy about stepping into the spotlight -- and about going where the goals are.
As one wag put it: "Morozov wouldn't go near the net if Anna Kournikova was playing goal in a one-piece bathing suit."
It seemed as if the Penguins didn't want Morozov to be a star, either.
They never have demanded it of him.
First, Kevin Constantine tried to convert him into a Russian Bob Gainey. As the years flew past, Morozov rarely got a chance to showcase his talent. Part of that was the team's wealth of skilled forwards.
Finally, there is the league itself.
Morozov grew up playing a sport called hockey, a sport vastly different from what he found in the NHL, which caters not to skilled craftsmen but to talentless hacks.
The shame is that Morozov, 27, showed signs of coming around toward the end of last season.
Maybe somebody will get a real player if and when he returns to North America.
Notebook: Morozov's split with Pens amicable
Forward Aleksey Morozov said last week that his decision to play for a team in Russia this year no matter what happens in the NHL didn't mean he was unhappy with the Penguins. Likewise, general manager Craig Patrick said he had no hard feelings toward Morozov, a restricted free agent, for his choice. "If you look at it from their side, I can only guess what they're thinking. But they're worried about what might happen this year, and he's probably thinking that a new deal at his age, he might have a chance to be unrestricted," Patrick said Monday. "And agents generally look at the best angle for their client to get more money. I guess that's what they're looking at." Morozov, 27, received a qualifying offer of $1.8 million before he decided to stay in his native Russia. Unless the new CBA changes the rules, he'll still be Penguins property when he decides to resume his NHL career. But Patrick said yesterday that Morozov's absence provides someone else with a chance to earn a roster spot. "When people make decisions like that, it opens up an opportunity for somebody else," Patrick said. "Who knows what it will be like a year from now when he's ready to come back? There's a lot of question marks out there."
Morozov commits to Russian team
The expiration of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement is less than two months away and most people in the hockey world are betting on a lockout come Sept. 15.
That includes Penguins right winger Aleksey Morozov, 27, who signed a one-year deal with a player option for a second year with Kazan of the Russian Superleague on Wednesday.
But while most NHL players, including the Boston Bruins' Joe Thornton and the Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk, are committing to European teams with an escape clause in the event that the NHL season resumes, Morozov's arrangement is more permanent.
He accepted what his agent called a "substantial" offer, one that calls for him spending the entire 2004-05 season in Kazan no matter what happens with the NHL.
"I decided I'm definitely going to stay the whole year because of the situation with the CBA and everyone saying there's going to be a lockout," Morozov, a restricted free agent, said from his native Moscow on Thursday. "I decided to stay the whole year in Russia."
Yet despite Morozov's firmness, agent Jay Grossman said yesterday that the Russian deal does not go into effect until early next week, giving time to work out a new contract with the Penguins.
"It's not final. It's close to being final," Grossman said. "I want to give (general manager Craig Patrick) the benefit of the doubt in the sense that Aleksey has pretty good seniority there and I'd like the opportunity to speak to him about it."
Morozov made $1.5 million last season and was qualified this year at $1.8 million. Grossman said that he hasn't heard from Patrick recently, although the general manager did reportedly make Morozov a multi-year offer sometime after July 1.
Patrick was unavailable for comment yesterday.
According to Grossman, Kazan began pursuing Morozov several weeks ago. Morozov traveled to the city and felt comfortable with the team. Their subsequent offer, which Morozov would not detail but said is for more money than he made last season, was the primary reason why he elected not to go to arbitration.
"Earlier on in the summer, (Morozov) had some pretty serious reservations about playing in Russia," Grossman said. "But I think he's like a lot of other players coming around to the fact that the likelihood of the season starting on time is pretty unlikely. An opportunity arose."
But, Grossman stressed, Morozov's interest in Kazan has nothing to do with his happiness with the Penguins or his desire to ultimately return to the team. Barring a change in the new CBA, the Penguins will still own his rights next season if he plays this year in Russia.
"He's had a good relationship with everybody in Pittsburgh, with Mario (Lemieux) and Craig, and in no way would his move to go play (in Russia) be any sign of dismissal of his interest in returning to Pittsburgh. It's just the reality of being offered something so substantial, and in this case, there's a commitment attached of a whole year."
Morozov also said that he is happy with the Penguins, and that his decision to play for Kazan was simply financial.
"I signed not because I don't want to play in Pittsburgh but because of the situation with the lockout," he said. "I'm really happy in Pittsburgh and I want to be back in Pittsburgh. But the situation with Kazan, it's a financial decision. I don't want to lose the money. Even if (the season) starts in January you're still only going to play three months."
After suffering through a mid-season drought of 33 games without a goal, Morozov finished as the second-leading scorer on the team last season, his seventh with the Penguins. The first-round choice of the Penguins in 1995 (24th overall) also established career highs in assists (34) and points (50) in 75 games. Thirty-four of his points came in the second half of the season.
Coach Eddie Olczyk declined to comment until he knew the specifics.
"Once I know and I'm told that yeah, he's going there and playing there all year regardless, then I could comment," he said.
And what if come, say, late October there is Penguins hockey going on and Morozov's playing in Russia?
"I don't know, but everybody's saying there's going to be a lockout," Morozov said. "I had a choice and I took this option. sum Maybe somebody will understand and somebody else will be disappointed; I can't say what everyone will think. But I know my decision. I talked to my agent. It's a business. I thought about myself. You play only 10- 12 years of pro hockey and with this situation with the lockout it's a problem in the NHL. That's why I decided to stay."
Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
The Penguins Aleksey Morozov has signed to play in Russia next season.
Blame it on a fear of an NHL labor impasse.
"You never know how long it's going to be locked out," he said from his homeland. "If I knew for sure the season would start in September or October, I probably wouldn't sign with AK Bars Kazan. But now it sounds like the lockout is going to be long.
"No, no, there's no chance anymore [to negotiate with the Penguins]. There was time before. But now I'm going to play the whole year here."
On Wednesday, Morozov flew from Moscow to Kazan, a Volga River city about 500 miles east of the Russian capital, and signed a one-year contract with a second-year option in which he makes the call whether or not to stay. Thus, he gave a firm commitment to AK Bars (the White Snow-Leopards) Kazan, where he plans to report next week with the team already at training camp. The Russian SuperLeague season begins in September.
He left open the probability of returning to Pittsburgh in 2005, where he seemingly would be welcome given his success -- albeit occasionally sporadic if not enigmatic -- with the Penguins. He said the contract contains no escape clause to allow him to rejoin the Penguins this season.
Morozov, a first-round pick in 1995, enjoyed a career year in his seventh NHL season last winter. Despite a 33-game drought considered unseemly for a scoring forward, Morozov compiled his second-highest goal total (16) and game total (75), along with career highs in assists (34), points (50), power-play goals (eight), and game-winning goals (a team-high 5). He earned $1.5 million last season and was guaranteed a 10 percent raise if he accepted the Penguins' one-year qualifying offer. Two weeks ago, he declined to take his employers to salary arbitration, clearing the way for more talks.
Not only does Morozov contend that he will earn more money from Ak Sars Kazan this season than he would have collected in a strike-shortened NHL season, but he also says that the move to forgo arbitration was made with Kazan in mind.
"If I go through arbitration, I sign for sure for one year," Morozov said. "I didn't want a one-year deal. And we had a good deal from Kazan. We saw what we could hear from Pittsburgh. We had some offers on the table, but we decided [that] ... especially if there's going to be a lockout and we're going to lose some money, the financial pointed to playing one year here."
Penguins general manager Craig Patrick was unavailable, though a team spokesman said the club declined to comment.
26 января. Morozov: 30 games, 0 goals, much angst
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
26 января. Morozov: 30 games, 0 goals, much angst - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette