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|30 сентября 2002
The Devils Notice a Quiet Defenseman
By LYNN ZINSER
Oleg Tverdovsky's N.H.L. career has best been described as quiet. For Anaheim, it was a bit too quiet for a defenseman whom the Ducks once picked No. 2 over all in the draft, and it became a big reason he landed in New Jersey in an off-season trade.
He is trying to change things with the Devils, not by raising his voice - which would not suit Tverdovsky's personality - but with his skates.
He made a move in the Devils' last preseason game that snapped Coach Pat Burns to attention. Tverdovsky took what seemed like a single stride at his own blue line and left a lineful of Rangers in his wake to join an offensive rush.
"I said, `Whoa, where did that come from?' " Burns said. "He's got four speeds. You say, `Oh, there he goes into second speed,' and there's two more left."
Burns has seen Tverdovsky play before. He is, after all, a 26-year-old veteran of eight N.H.L. seasons. But six of those seasons were played in Anaheim, a horrendous defensive team for which Tverdovsky was expected to be the savior.
In that atmosphere, many of Tverdovsky's best skills were secondary to scrambling to make the most of a lot of bad situations.
"Playing in Anaheim, I had to do a lot of work because we didn't have such a good group of good players," Tverdovsky said. "They were young, just starting their careers and making a lot of mistakes. It was so much work in your end, by the time you were done, you didn't have anything left for offense."
Even in that scene, though, Lou Lamoriello, the Devils' president and general manager, saw a gem that would sparkle perfectly in the Devils' strong lineup of defensemen, neatly divided between stay-at-home types like Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko and offensive-minded ones like Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski. Tverdovsky would be allowed to skate and join rushes because his partner, currently Daneyko, would be backing up.
Tverdovsky has impressed not only Burns with his athleticism and powerful skating, but also his teammates, who are used to being surrounded by excellent defensemen. They are as excited to have him as he is to be with the Devils.
"He's got a lot of ability," Daneyko said. "He's so quick to the puck, great hands, big shot. You've got to let the wild horse out of the cage a little bit. Hopefully, I'll be a solid complement for him."
Tverdovsky's rocket of a shot also makes him a natural addition to the Devils' power play, which is not stocked with players who have dangerous slap shots.
Tverdovsky was not the biggest name in the Devils' big trade - the headliners were forwards Petr Sykora (outgoing) and Jeff Friesen (incoming) - but he may turn out to have the biggest impact because the Devils are built from the defense forward.
That may be the biggest adjustment for Tverdovsky.
"We have to work on the other part of his game down close to the net,"
Burns said. "But if you don't spend any time in your own end, you don't
have to worry about that."
The news that Coach PAT BURNS had shaved the mustache he had worn for
27 years did not take long to reach Montreal, his hometown. "It was in
all the papers," Burns said. Even his mother called. He did it to stick
by the Devils policy of not allowing facial hair before the playoffs. "My
wife thinks I look younger," Burns said.
As expected, the Rangers did not protect two veteran defensemen - Sylvain Lefebvre and Dave Karpa. Lefebvre, who turns 35 this month, is scheduled to earn $2.5 million this season; Karpa, 31, will earn $1.7 million. If Lefebvre is not claimed, he will open the season as one of the Rangers' regular defensemen. With a week to go until Wednesday's season-opener in Carolina, Karpa's status is much less clear.
The Rangers also left unprotected the 34-year-old forward Dixon Ward a day after he signed a one-year deal that would pay him $450,000 in the N.H.L. this season or $150,000 in the minor leagues.
The Devils left the veteran defenseman Tommy Albelin unprotected and
the Islanders did not leave a significant player unprotected. Jason Diamos
Страничка Олега Твердовского на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"
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