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сентября 1999 года.
Tverdovsky is happy to again be a Mighty Duck
By Bob McManaman
He was an easy target. Everybody's favorite punch line. They made fun of his game. They even made fun of his name.
Psst. Did you know you Tverdovsky means turnover in Russian?
Well hold the one-liners. Oleg Tverdovsky, the defenseman who showed so much potential with the Coyotes and yet made so many fans feel like pulling out their hair, plans to have the last laugh now that he's been traded back to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
He was smiling Saturday after he and the Ducks pulled off a 4-3 preseason victory over the Coyotes at America West Arena. Tverdovsky was on the ice for two of Anaheim's scores in helping down his former mates, who fell to 1-4-2 in exhibition play.
"I think it's going to be a great move for me," Tverdovsky said before the game. "There's great chemistry on this team, they play an up-tempo style and I'm going to have a lot of chances to get involved in the offense.
"Maybe everything didn't go right for me in Phoenix all the time. I didn't get many points last year. I went through some things with my contract. It just wasn't right a lot of the time. I think a trade might have been the best thing as it turns out."
Tverdovsky was dealt last June to the Ducks in a draft-day trade for center Travis Green and Anaheim's first-round pick, which the Coyotes used to select center Scott Kelman with the 15th overall choice.
Tverdovsky didn't see it coming, but he wasn't shocked, either.
"I thought it was going to be a possibility, a chance," he said. "You know how you have that feeling about things? Well, I kind of had that feeling."
Anaheim Coach Craig Hartsburg has a feeling the trade is going to work wonders for the Mighty Ducks, even though Tverdovsky, 23, still has problems with his consistency and avoiding mistakes.
"He's still a young player and sometimes, expectations of young players maybe are too high," Hartsburg said.
The Coyotes acquired Tverdovsky in one of the NHL's biggest heists. In 1996, the Ducks dealt him to the then Winnipeg Jets along with center Chad Kilger in return for superstar Teemu Selanne.
After bashing the Ducks with some pre-playoff comments three years ago, the Arrowhead Pond felt more like a shark tank for Tverdovsky. From that moment on, every time he touched the puck there, he was booed lustily by the fans. It never stopped.
"But everything's been good so far," he said. "It's not like that any more. It's actually pretty good. I was a little bit worried about that because I didn't know what to expect because of the past. But everything's been good."
Phoenix fans spent some time booing him Saturday, even after Coyotes captain Keith Tkachuk knocked him down hard with a high stick that brought Tkachuk four minutes in the penalty box.
"I was just trying to get position, and that was a total accident," Tkachuk said later. "I guess they call those now."
Tverdovsky is sporting a slight cut today after needing 11 stitches for a cut. He's fine, in more ways than one. He said he'll miss the Coyotes - "I definitely think I learned a lot and became a better player, defensively, thanks to them last season," he said. But he loves being a Duck again.