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|22 сентября 2002
Panthers' Shvidki in visa mix-up - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
ESTERO -- During a training camp in which Denis Shvidki must beat out some offensively gifted players to make the Panthers, he has yet to play in three exhibition games.
That's because the Immigration and Naturalization Service voided his work visa when he left the United States during the advanced parole stage of his applying for a green card. While Shvidki says "it's nobody's fault," coach Mike Keenan disagrees wholeheartedly.
"He's totally responsible for it, and he's a guy who's suffering the repercussions for it right now," Keenan said.
Team officials say Shvidki knew he couldn't leave the country, but in August he went to a training camp for Russian players in Switzerland that was organized by his agent, Mark Gandler.
Saturday night the Panthers strolled into TECO Arena, a building Shvidki has played well in, and fell in overtime 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes. Ryan Johnson and Byron Ritchie scored for the Panthers and Wade Flaherty stopped 40 shots. Defenseman Igor Ulanov "tweaked his MCL," but a Panthers spokesman said he should be on the ice Monday in Vail, Colo.
While Shvidki waits for his new work visa, he is allowed to practice because players don't earn a salary during training camp. But he's not allowed to play preseason games because at the end of camp, players receive a few hundred dollars per preseason game played.
Shvidki expects to hear from the INS any day now. He better hope so because he's falling behind quickly.
Even though the 21-year-old right wing was drafted No. 12 overall in 1999 and this is his fourth camp, Keenan barely knows him, so he has to prove himself all over again. After playing 43 games in 2000-01, Shvidki was devastated by injuries last year.
He suffered a concussion in an exhibition game in Boston on a Kyle McLaren hit and missed the first 24 games. He then played eight games in Florida and eight in AHL Utah before tearing a ligament in his ankle and missing the rest of the season.
"I feel great now," Shvidki said. "I'm healthy and 100 percent. I know I need to prove my game and show everybody what I can do, but I don't feel any pressure. I know what the coaches want to see."
Shvidki has been terrific during scrimmages, but Keenan wants to see him against NHL competition.
"I like the way he protects the puck," Keenan said. "He shoots the puck hard. He likes to go into traffic and he likes to score goals. He has a good sense of the game and is strong defensively."
General Manager Rick Dudley said, "He's one of the guys that if he steps up to the level he's capable of, he's going to make an impact on the hockey team. He's got top two-line NHL skill and it's just a matter of time for him. He's going to produce offense."
But will this immigration mishap cost him when final cuts are made?
"He's ineligible to play and it's really hurting his training camp,"
an angry Keenan said. "It's in the lawyer's hands."