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октября 1997 года.
Time Is Now For Zhamnov
As if the sports fans in Chicago weren't depressed enough over the 1997-98
baseball and football team's horrid starts...here come the Hawks. It's
Chicago's latest entry to the unenviable bragging rights to the worst start
of the season. Before getting their first win of the year, 5-2 at Buffalo
on 19 Oct., the Hawks were 0-7 and just one loss away from their worst
start in franchise history. Before exploding for 5 goals at Buffalo, the
team had just 6 goals in 7 games - they were shut out in 3 of 4 at one
point - leading many to question the team's heart.
Hard work is exactly what the Hawks are expecting from the six-year veteran, but they were hoping for more results. It's not that Zhamnov isn't trying; among other things, he has even changed his jersey number, giving up #26 for this season's #36. Maybe a bit of superstition might help. Something. Anything.
From day one, controversy from the trade for Jeremy Roenick, which brought him to Chicago, has had him under the microscope. The comparisons were inevitable. Both players are highly talented, however they differ greatly in style and personality. Roenick's physical play and charisma are in direct contrast with Zhamnov's finesse and soft-spoken nature. Toss in a short contract dispute once he came to Chicago as an unsigned restricted free agent and Zhamnov was caught in an unenviable situation before he ever took the ice in a Hawks sweater
Once Zhamnov hit the ice, he produced decent numbers, but not the type of stats a no. 1 center needs to keep the fans happy. He did finish with at least 20 goals for the fifth consecutive season, but his 62 points in 74 games marked the first time in his NHL career he had not averaged at least 1 point per game during the regular season.
Come playoff time, there was still more controversy, when a sprained ankle suffered in the season finale vs. Dallas kept him out of the playoffs. To make matters worse, he received treatment for the injury from the Colorado Avalanche's doctor when the Hawks were right in the middle of playing - guess who? - in a first-round series.
The ankle injury was particularly frustrating, as Zhamnov was not ruled out of the playoffs until half-way through the Colorado series - a series which Chicago felt it had a chance of winning if the team was 100% healthy. Without your top center, however, winning any playoff series, let alone one against the no. 1 seed in your conference, is a tough task.
Nagging injuries have always plagued Zhamnov; he has yet to play a full 82-game season. But prior to the playoffs last season, injuries were the least of his problems, as the former Moscow Dynamo star played the most games of his 5-year NHL career last season (74), yet scored the fewest goals (20).
Zhamnov is without question a very gifted player who possesses a variety of skills, notably excellent skating, stickhandling, playmaking and the ability to play solid hockey with and without the puck. The knock on him is a lack of consistency. Last year, for instance, Zhamnov went at least 4 games without a point on 4 separate occasions, and had 2 different stretches of at least 7 games where he did not score a goal. On the other hand, he started the season with 5 points in 4 games and had stretches of 10 points in 6 games, 8 points in 5 games, and 6 points in 4 games.
Can he still be one of the NHL's elite offensive centermen, or merely just very good, perhaps more comfortable on the second line? True, the Hawks lack sufficient scoring depth and it is easy for other teams to focus and wear down the top line which Zhamnov centers. Considering all of the above, it can be argued that Zhamnov had legitimate excuses for his sub-par (even by his standards) his first year in Chicago. But this is a new season; he's had a full season under his belt, and should understand the Blackhawks system by now, as well as his role as the no. 1 centerman.
This much is certain. If Alexei Zhamnov is to step it up to the next level, the timing is perfect. The opportunity to show his world class skills and leadership qualities is now, and there is no better way to silence his critics than to pull himself up - and the needy Blackhawks along with him.
©1997 Glenwood Associates, Inc. and The Pro Hockey EuroReport
Страничка Алексея Жамнова на
сайте "Звёзды с Востока"
14 сентября. Zhamnov arrives with lofty goals
- Boston Globe
9 августа. Zhamnov set for central role - Boston
17 ноября. Алексей Жамнов: "Серовом и Орском меня
не испугаешь" // "Спорт-Экспресс"
14 сентября. Zhamnov arrives with lofty goals - Boston Globe
9 августа. Zhamnov set for central role - Boston Globe
17 ноября. Алексей Жамнов: "Серовом и Орском меня не испугаешь" // "Спорт-Экспресс"