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февраля 1998 года.
Coyote finds work in Anaheim
By Bob McManaman
Before returning to work on Tuesday, the Coyotes enjoyed an eight-day winter vacation that saw most of them go their separate ways.
Rick Tocchet went to Hawaii. Jim McKenzie went to Mexico. Nikolai Khabibulin hung out with former teammate Igor Korolev. And Jocelyn Lemieux spent his time beating up big brother Claude on various Valley golf courses.
You'll never guess what Oleg Tverdovsky did.
The 21-year-old Russian defenseman plunked down a few million rubles and rented an ice rink for the week in Anaheim.
Not only that, but he paid to fly in two professional players from Moscow so he could have someone to train with during his private workout sessions while the NHL shut down for the Winter Olympics.
Pavel Agarkov, a forward, and Anton Vellenov, a goalie, also lifted weights and rode stationary bikes alongside Tverdovsky, who then flew them to Phoenix, where they will spend a few more days before heading home.
"It wasn't too expensive," Tverdovsky said. "I know the guy at the rink and he gave me 50 percent off for the ice time. And it only cost something like $500 apiece for the two round-trip tickets for my friends. Russian airlines are pretty cheap to fly."
Much like his wallet, his heart was in the right place.
After missing the first 35 games of the season because of a contract dispute, Tverdovsky decided he couldn't afford to take any time off. An All-Star a year ago who finished fifth in the NHL in scoring among defenseman, he believed he needed the extra work to be a factor down the stretch for the Coyotes (24-22-11).
Perhaps it was no coincidence then, that while some of his teammates were huffing and puffing upon christening their new practice facility in Scottsdale with a grueling workout at the Cellular One Ice Den, Tverdovsky breezed through it like it was a 20-minute morning skate.
"I feel great," he said afterward. "I'm not tired or anything. Going to Anaheim, I'm sure, really helped. I had just got into really good shape when the break started, and I didn't want to lose that."
Tverdovsky chose Anaheim as his workout site for a few reasons. For starters, he used to play for the Mighty Ducks and has a home there. His mother and sister also are there. And like he said, he knew the guy at the rink.
"It doesn't surprise me with Oleg," Coyotes General Manager Bobby Smith said.
"I happened to run into him at (America West Arena) when he was packing his hockey equipment when he was on his way to Anaheim. It just shows the commitment he has toward becoming as good as can be.
"For some of our guys, the rest and being away from the rink and just lying on their sofas was the best thing for them. But Oleg's missed some hockey this year, and he's intent on being really good the final third of the season. It'll be a big boost for our team if he plays that way."
Tverdovsky showed flashes of that just before the break, going on an eight-point tear (three goals, five assists) in five of his past six games. This, after going pointless in 14 of his first 15 games upon signing a two-year deal worth $3.1 million.
"Yeah, it was like, 'Oh, great. Now I've got to get it started all over again,' " he said, laughing. "But absolutely, I think I can start off right where I left off. I have no doubt about it.
"I had a hard time from the beginning. I was trying to do too much,
and I wasn't in as good of shape as I am now. I just didn't have that extra
jump I needed to make plays. A big part of my game is skating and speed,
and when you lose a step, you lose your game."