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Zhamnov produces on center stage // Chicago Tribune
By Neil Milbert
The role Alex Zhamnov has been playing for the Blackhawks resurrects memories of Bryan Trottier's role with the New York Islanders.
Zhamnov is leading the Hawks in scoring and has moved into the NHL's top 10 with 22 points in as many games.
But coach Brian Sutter says the Russian center's eight goals and 14 assists aren't the full measure of what he contributes to his team.
"Obviously, Alex is putting points on the board," Sutter said at Tuesday's practice before the Hawks departed for Wednesday night's game at Nashville.
"When we go on the road the other team will always play its top checking
line against him. The checking line is made up of the most responsible
At home the Hawks can dictate line matchups.
"It's interesting how we use Alex at home," Sutter said. "His line always
plays against [the opponent's] top people. Your checking line isn't
"He's a vital cog in our offense, but we use him in a much bigger role than other people use their top centermen.
"Bryan Trottier used to be that way," Sutter continued, recalling a nemesis from his playing days with the St. Louis Blues. "He was one of the leading scorers in the league, and it was always his job to shut down the other team's top center."
Zhamnov, 31, will enjoy the best season of his 10-year career if he continues scoring at a point-a-game pace. Up to now his best year was his first NHL season, 1992-93, when he collected 72 points on 25 goals and 47 assists in 68 games for Winnipeg (now Phoenix).
Zhamnov said he didn't realize he'd moved into the top 10 in scoring and didn't really care.
"Much more important is that the team is having a good start," he said. "My focus is for the team. Like I said a long time ago, I don't care if I don't have any points for 10 straight games as long as we win every one of those games.
"It's a team game. Every team has skill players and good defensive players. If everything comes together, it makes a good team. It's not like you just need one or two guys.
"I still believe we have a great team here. We're not done; we're just starting."
The Hawks got off to an abysmal start last season under former coach Alpo Suhonen. In December they started winning, and by the third week of January they were making a belated playoff push.
Then, in a Jan. 21 game with Pittsburgh at the United Center, Zhamnov was accidentally struck just beneath the throat by a puck shot by the Penguins' Ian Moran, fracturing his larynx.
"If people don't know how much he means to this team, they're going to find out real soon," Tony Amonte, the Hawks' captain and Zhamnov's right wing, said at the time. "There couldn't be a worse time for something like this to happen."
Amonte was right. The Hawks immediately hit the skids. Zhamnov missed 18 games, and by the time he returned theHawks' playoff hopes had suffered irreparable damage.
"For sure, it was tough last year," Zhamnov said. "But I can't do anything about what might have been. Now I'm just focused on this year."
Zhamnov has benefited from the Suhonen-to-Sutter transition.
"Brian is a completely different coach and he has a completely different system," Zhamnov said. "He respects players. Every coach is different, but he reminds me a little of some Russian coaches-when we're on the ice and off the ice he likes to explain [things] to the players."
Over the years some Hawks fans have questioned the team's Aug. 16, 1996, trade that sent popular center Jeremy Roenick to Phoenix for Zhamnov. The Hawks also received a 1997 first-round draft choice, who turned out to be right wing Ty Jones. If Jones had become a productive NHL player-such as Dallas left wing Brenden Morrow, who was taken later in the first round-Phoenix fans might refer to the Zhamnov-Roenick deal as a steal for the Hawks.
Sutter, born and raised on a farm in western Canada, steadfastly refuses to stereotype players by nationality.
"It's a universal game and I don't care where a guy is from," he said.
"One thing I can tell you is that I've never met a harder-working individual
or a classier person than Alex Zhamnov."
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"