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30 октября 2002 года
Events hit home. Samsonov's heart goes out - to Russia - Boston Globe

By Kevin Paul Dupont

WILMINGTON - The phone calls to Moscow are frequent, but Sergei Samsonov's more tangible connections to home these days have grown frustratingly few. The Bruins' star winger has been a busy man since leaving Russia more than six years ago, and the world's tensions in more recent times have made those thousands of miles between here and there seem interminably, painfully longer.

''A lot changed after Sept. 11,'' Samsonov said quietly yesterday, sitting in the Bruins' practice facility as his pals hurried to make their way to a charter flight to Washington. ''The visa process slowed down after what happened in New York last year, and after this latest thing, I'm sure it will be even slower.''

The latest thing. On the heels of America holding its collective breath over the capture of the alleged D.C.-area sniper, Samsonov and his fellow Muscovites watched the horrors unfold in their own nation's capital. Terrorists took over a downtown Moscow theater for three days, demanding Russia's withdrawal from Chechnya, the takeover not brought to an end until Saturday. In the end, more than 100 hostages and terrorists were dead, the death toll high, in part, because of a lethal mixture of gas Russian commandos used when overcoming the hostage-takers.

Samsonov grew up only some 30 miles from the theater, and his parents, Viktor and Tatiana, still live in the area. When the grim scene came to an end the other day, Samsonov couldn't tear himself away from the television or stop thinking about his friends and family.

''I was watching CNN, 24/7,'' he said. ''What can I say? It was awful. It shows again that you aren't safe anywhere from things like that, whether it's Russia, the United States, anywhere in the world. And it was tough being here, wondering what it must have been like for the hostages. One second they're in there, thinking they're going to see a play, and in the next second they don't know what's going on - if they're going to get out, or even going to live. All of a sudden, their whole world's been turned around, right out of the blue.''

He has been assured, said Samsonov, that his friends and family were unscathed. He also knows people are quick to find fault with Russia's takeover tactics, but he recognizes, too, that hundreds were rescued.

''I think those must be tough decisions,'' he said. ''Yeah, over 100 dead, but at the same time, around 500 lives were saved - and like I say, those kinds of things now, I don't think anyone is safe from it.''

Samsonov hasn't been back to Russia since leaving more than six years ago to pursue his dream of playing in North America. Because of world unrest, Viktor and Tatiana Samsonov couldn't make it Stateside this summer when Sergei, their elder of two sons, married Meghan Strasz, whom he met not long after arriving in Michigan late in the summer of '96 to begin his professional career with the IHL's Detroit Vipers.

''It wasn't great,'' said Samsonov, managing a smile when asked how it felt not to have his parents at his wedding. ''Like I say, it's tough, but with the visa situation the way it is, there isn't much you can do. My brother [Yuri] was there. And some of the guys - Joe [Thornton], [Mike] Knuble, Brian Rolston, and Byron Dafoe made it. Obviously, you want your parents to come, but it wasn't possible.''

Much of what Samsonov has accomplished since leaving home at age 17 might be categorized as improbable. An extremely talented but small (5 feet 8 inches, barely 180 pounds) left wing, he left Russia's highly regarded Red Army squad with an eye on improving his skills and raising his draft prospects in a North American pro program. In short order, he was chosen the IHL's Rookie of the Year, got drafted No. 8 overall by the Bruins weeks later, and went on to become the NHL's Rookie of the Year the following spring.

Now five-plus years into his NHL career, and making $2.2 million this season, he can't help but ponder the large odds he overcame to get here. He wonders about good fortune, how some of his friends back home, many with great talent, peaked and left the game at age 16, 17, and 18. But here he is, still standing, successful and healthy, figuratively and literally thousands of miles from a life that no doubt would have been vastly different, and perhaps far less rewarding.

''No question, it was a long shot,'' said Samsonov, whose wrist injury will keep him on the sideline tonight when the Bruins face the Capitals. ''Obviously, you don't plan life like that. I mean, for me to come over here, it was really - how do you say it? - a shot in the sky. A new country. A new league. There was no way of knowing what to expect. But at some point, I guess, you have to take a shot, and lucky for me, everything went my way.

''I mean, think about it, you can't plan that. You can't think, `OK, I'll play one year in the IHL, then get drafted by Boston.' I think about that all the time. I can't say enough about how lucky I am. No question. Hey, it's the only thing I can do, play hockey. It's all I know. I can't just quit my job and go find something else. It's all I do. It's my life.''

Perhaps like you, Samsonov will be home tonight with CNN silenced and the TV on the Bruins broadcast. The nagging injury to his wrist has kept him out of the last four games, and the earliest he might make it back would be Saturday vs. the Rangers on Causeway Street.

Meanwhile, minus one of the most potent parts of their attack, the Bruins have kept the good times rolling and will carry a seven-game undefeated streak into tonight's action. The season not a month old, they are playing .750 hockey. Imagine where they would be if they had the highly talented stickhandler and shooter in their lineup. How hot can it get here in the Hub of Hockey?

''Oh, I'll be watching it, maybe with ice on my arm,'' said Samsonov, following a brief workout on his own. ''It's frustrating, though, because you want to be a part of it, but I've got to get my wrist better. We've been thinking, you know, `Next game, next game,' but that hasn't worked. Now we've backed off a couple, and we'll see.''

Waiting. Like it or not, Samsonov has acquired the gift of patience. His busy life here hasn't allowed him the time to visit Moscow since arriving in North America. Eager to see his folks, he awaits word that the American embassy back home relaxes the visa quotas. Making it a little easier, his 19-year-old brother Yuri attends Boston College, where he studies economics, charts his own way in North America.

''Everyone assumes he must be a hockey player,'' said Sergei, whose fame and fortune here helped pay his brother's way through private school at Governor Dummer and now at The Heights. ''But he doesn't play. He got the brains in the family. I feel lucky that I've had the opportunity to help him. He's smart, he's trying hard, trying to begin his life, and I have to give him that firm shoulder to be supportive.''

Life continues on here for the brothers Samsonov. They see each other when pro careers and college days allow, phone home often, and hope, like all of us, that the all-day news networks don't blurt out, ''This word just in ...'' when they mention our hometown. 

Страничка Сергея Самсонова на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"

Материалы прссы:

1 октября. Самсонов вернулся и забил. 

30 сентября. Samsonov spinning his wheels // Boston Globe

10 августа. Самсонов согласился на квалификационное предложение «Брюинз». 

9 февраля. Самсонов подписал контракт с московским “Динамо”. 

19 ноября. Samsonov just passing through; Bruins wing checks in for charity while NHL lockout drones on // The Patriot Ledger

20 июля. Самсонов принял условия квалификационного предложения “Брюинз”. 

20 апреля. Сергей Самсонов: "Fair play в НХЛ нет" - Спорт-Экспресс

18 марта, четверг - Самсонов вернулся в строй, однако “Брюинз” снова проиграли “Миннесоте”. 

Сергей Самсонов: "С Кинэном пил пиво, с Бернсом лил слёзы" - "Спорт-Экспресс"


"ЗВЁЗДЫ С ВОСТОКА" @ c 1997 года