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22 октября 1999 года.
They can do it, too European players slowly earn respect
By DAVE FULLER -- Toronto Sun 

Officially, Russian pals Dimitri Yushkevich and Alexander Karpovtsev had nothing to do with the Maple Leafs' acquisition yesterday of Ukrainian Dmitri Khristich. Unofficially, the pair of Maple Leafs defenceman may have cast the swing vote with their superb play Wednesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Any lingering fear the Leafs might have had about adding a ninth European to their lineup vanished after watching Karpovtsev throw himself in front of 90 mile per hour slapshots while Yushkevich threatened to make Gary Roberts his personal rag doll. The question no longer may be how many Europeans is too many Europeans, but rather, how many is not enough? 

"All of us want to win, all of us want to win the Stanley Cup," Yushkevich said yesterday. "Ten years ago North American players maybe didn't respect Europeans. But now (Jaromir) Jagr, (Peter) Forsberg, (Mats) Sundin ... those players are superstars." Still, the prejudices remain. Karpovtsev found himself vilified by the media before he played his first game as a Leaf last October. Similarly, Khristich sometimes has been portrayed as a "me-guy" who suffers terminal meltdown whenever the heat is turned up. 

"Those are just rumours. Everybody's different," said Yushkevich, who has met Khristich a handful of times since they played for the former Soviet world junior team. It's more important what you do on the ice. I am a pretty quiet guy in the dressing room, too, but for me it's more important to be a leader the ice." Yushkevich said Karpovtsev was nearly a basket-case during his first few months as a Leaf. But by the end of the season, the criticisms had subsided. "When he got to be a plus-39 last year, he showed everyone that he can play defensively," Yushkevich said. "He doesn't lead a lot of rushes up the ice, he's always in the right position." 

During the dark days, Yushkevich advised Karpovtsev to go underground. "I told him, 'Don't read the newspapers. Just close your eyes. Just do your job,' " he said. "(Karpovtsev) is the kind of person who like a lot of players -- even though they may look tough -- can be hurt very easily." Yushkevich hopes Khristich will be received more favourably by Leafs fans. "I hope he'll be reading good stuff about himself -- right from the beginning," Yushkevich said. 

Страничка Дмитрия Юшкевича на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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