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сентября 2001 года.
Пресса Каролины об Озолиньше, Ирбе и Князеве.
Что нужно "Каролине Хёрракейнс" получить от отдельно взятых хоккеистов для общего успеха? Газета "Ньюс Oбзерверс" попыталась дать на это ответ. Ниже приведено мнение газеты по отношению к российскому хоккеисту Игорю Князеву и двум латышам - Сандису Озолиньшу и Артурсе Ирбе.
Can Igor Knyazev put it together?
One of the reasons the Canes had Igor Knyazev rated as the top defenseman in the draft was their scouts' strong feelings that the 18-year-old Russian could step in and play in the NHL right away.
He missed rookie camp to captain Russia's under-20 team at a tournament in the Czech Republic, so training camp in Florida is Carolina's first up-close look at him. But the Canes have loved him from the moment they saw him last fall at a tournament in Utah. His poise and presence marked him as a definite first-rounder.
"Knyazev was a guy that jumped out on us right there, and we just sat on him the rest of the winter," director of amateur scouting Sheldon Ferguson said. "We were fortunate to see a lot of him, and we never came off him after Salt Lake. Right from the get-go, this was a guy who we liked."
Having Alexander Godynyuk, a former Hartford Whalers defenseman, in camp as his tutor and translator will help. But there could be distractions from the other side of the Atlantic. Spartak, his Russian team, will be pulling hard for him to play for them if he doesn't make the Canes' NHL roster.
Sandis Ozolinsh: Boon or bust?
Ozolinsh struggled with the mighty expectations placed upon him last season after the Canes traded a first-round draft pick for him and then made him the team's highest-paid player by signing him to a five-year, $25.5 million contract.
Things only got worse when he tried to play with torn cartilage in his left knee and then tried to come back as quickly as possible, perhaps too quickly, from surgery to fix it.
But his good games -- a four-point game against Atlanta in February, a hat trick at Chicago in March -- were exhibitions of a player with extraordinary talents.
"I have maybe a little different mental approach to the game," Ozolinsh said. "Last year, I think I put way too much pressure onmyself and basically tried to do everything by myself. Now I feel a lot more confident on this team and hopefully that will give better results."
His numbers were almost exactly as expected -- 12 goals and 32 assists despite missing 10 games because of the surgery -- but it was his glaring mistakes, his attempts to create a breakaway with every pass gone awry, that caused consternation among fans and coaches.
"I think when Sandis came in last year, he came in with so much fanfare that unrealistic expectations were placed on him based on what he was going to be able to do offensively for our team," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "I think a lot of that pressure is gone."
He reported back to Raleigh at the end of August with a smile on his face. And that's when he's at his most dangerous.
How will Arturs Irbe handle competition?
Certainly, how Tom Barrasso plays after a year off is a question mark. But the bigger question may be how Irbe reacts to having some serious competition in net for the first time in three seasons.
"My idea and my understanding is that it's going to help me get some
breaks, and the bottom line is to help the team," Irbe said. "Tom is here
to help us win."