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|12 марта 2007 года.
Samsonov hopes for 'fresh start' // The Gazette
Regrets decision to sign with CH. 'I've been blamed for everything,'
embattled Hab says
Sergei Samsonov took his demotion in stride Friday - at least on the surface - upon learning he would be a healthy scratch the next night against the St. Louis Blues. But, by Saturday morning, after reality had an opportunity to set in, the pride of a wounded athlete came to the surface.
"I need a different ... a fresh start. I'm looking forward to that," Samsonov, the Canadiens' only free-agent signing last summer, said after participating in an optional skate at the Scottrade Centre. "This hasn't worked out the way I expected, but life goes on.
"I thought this was going to be a better fit, because of the guys in the lineup and the way management portrayed things. But it was never meant to be."
It would seem the addition of Samsonov will go down as one of general manager Bob Gainey's biggest errors. But you never know. People were complaining about Radek Bonk a year ago, yet he has rebounded this season. But, for now at least, the signing of Samsonov to a two-year, $7.05-million (U.S.) deal hasn't worked out. He had been seeking between $3.5 million and $4 million annually, and was negotiating extensively with Chicago.
Samsonov hasn't delivered on the ice, being held to nine goals and 26 points in 63 games. That's a far cry from the 23 goals and 30 assists he recorded last season with Boston and Edmonton in 74 games. For the 5-foot-8, 188-pound Russian winger to be effective, he must go to the net, yet has seemed reluctant to get his nose dirty. He has been a healthy scratch six times, was placed on waivers early last month, and has suggested a trade might be best for both parties.
"I've been blamed for everything that has gone wrong. Why stop now? Obviously, looking back, I regret my decision (to sign with the Canadiens). All you can do is make things different and learn from your mistakes. Things could have been done and handled differently," Samsonov said.
His latest transgression occurred Thursday at Atlanta, when his first-period turnover led to the Thrashers' second goal in their 6-2 win. Samsonov, on the ice for three of Atlanta's first five goals, was relegated to the fourth line in the second period and benched for the third. He was a minus-3 despite playing only nine shifts and receiving less than seven minutes' ice time.
It's believed one of the reasons Samsonov signed with the Canadiens was upon the urging of countryman Alex Kovalev, also no stranger to controversy this season.
"There's nothing we can do," Kovalev said. "In this situation we're in, it could be me or him. We all know the coach has been frustrated. We're frustrated, too. We want to be in the playoffs. We're trying to find solutions to find ways to win games."
The Canadiens did finally win one, defeating the Blues 4-3 Saturday on Kovalev's winning goal with 1:25 remaining in regulation time. Kovalev's score came only 43 seconds after Glen Metropolit tied the game with a power-play tally - the third successive St. Louis goal after Montreal took a 3-0 lead.
Defenceman Sheldon Souray had been penalized for holding. He refused comment following the game.
"I think (the officials) called some soft penalties on St. Louis ... and felt they had to call one on us," coach Guy Carbonneau said. "That's too bad, because there was no penalty on the play.
"It's always frustrating (to squander a lead). I think everyone was upset, but we stuck to our game and Alex made a huge play at the end of the game to win it for us."
The result should also help the confidence of Canadiens goalie David Aebischer, shaky in his previous two starts. Aebischer faced only 28 St. Louis shots - including 11 in the third, when the Blues scored twice - but sufficiently kept the home team at bay.
"We're in the playoff hunt. Every game and point is important. It's a waste of a season if you don't make the playoffs," Aebischer said. "It's important to get wins. I played well, and that should give me confidence. It hasn't been easy this year, but if you keep battling, good things happen."
The Canadiens, who didn't practise yesterday, entertain the New York Islanders tomorrow.