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октября 2002 года.
A.Z. does it - Chicago Tribune
Alex Zhamnov is the people's choice. Who'd have thought it? For years
he was compared unfavorably with the traded and beloved 'J.R.,' Jeremy
Alex Zhamnov never was and never will be Jeremy Roenick, and now that he has spent six seasons in Chicago, maybe it's time Blackhawks fans accepted it.
Roenick was perpetual motion on the ice and off, always quick with a quote, always with his heart on his sleeve, always willing to go facefirst into an opponent or the glass, whichever happened to be there. Zhamnov is more subtle, perhaps an acquired taste. Bach to Roenick's Guns N' Roses.
"We play a different style," Zhamnov said.
"But fans probably expected the same style as J.R. That's why maybe some of the fans were disappointed."
But times have changed since the Hawks sent Roenick to the Phoenix Coyotes for Zhamnov and others in August 1996. The Hawks recently conducted a Web-site poll listing six potential candidates for captain, and Zhamnov drew 30 percent of the vote, considerably more than any other candidate.
No one could have predicted that six years ago. Suggest Zhamnov for captain then and you might have started a revolt among the Hawks faithful who spent years equating the captain's "C" with favorites such as Pierre Pilote, Whitey Stapleton, Keith Magnuson, Darryl Sutter, Denis Savard and Chris Chelios.
"This team has had a great tradition [of captains]," Zhamnov said. "I'm not going to change anything. It's my job to bring people together."
Zhamnov is just the second Russian-born player to begin a season as sole captain of an NHL team. Alexei Yashin was the Ottawa Senators' captain in 1998-99. Alexander Mogilny took over as captain in Buffalo after Pat LaFontaine was sidelined with concussions, and Pavel Bure rotated with Paul Laus in Florida last season before being traded to the Rangers.
"I don't think it makes a big difference where you come from," Zhamnov said. "We all have the same job—to go on the ice and play."
It has taken time, but North American hockey fans have come to accept and even embrace European players, Russians in particular. That wasn't always the case, as Zhamnov learned when he made his NHL debut in Winnipeg.
"There was a portion of the fan base [in Winnipeg] that was negative to the point of being hostile to the Russian players," said Hawks general manager Mike Smith, who had the same role in Winnipeg and drafted Zhamnov and Teemu Selanne.
In Chicago, Zhamnov found himself trying to replace the popular Roenick, who had three straight seasons with more than 100 points and twice scored more than 50 goals.
"The first few years were very tough," Zhamnov acknowledged. "Everything you heard about me was compared to J.R., me and J.R. I understood because he played here a long time and people loved him. But what are you going to do? That's the business."
The one area in which the Roenick comparisons invariably fall short is scoring. Zhamnov is considered a No. 1 center, but he never has matched the 72 points he scored in his rookie season.
Roenick, by contrast, had those three straight 100-plus seasons, but he was playing with defensive-minded teammates such as Brent Sutter, Dirk Graham and Greg Gilbert. Their primary responsi-bility was to shut down the other team's top scorers, freeing Roenick to concentrate on offense.
Zhamnov doesn't have that luxury. Not only is he the Hawks' top offensive center, he also is their top defensive center. Hawks coach Brian Sutter believes Zhamnov should have been a finalist for the Selke Trophy last season that went to the Islanders' Michael Peca as the league's best defensive forward.
What does Zhamnov's two-way ability mean? On the road he faces the best defensive players in the league, and at home he draws the top offensive players. Not many NHL stars have to face that daily double night in and night out.
Still, Zhamnov knows he needs to uncork his shot more. In the season opener at Columbus, he had a partial breakaway with a defender a half-step behind him. Instead of driving to the net and forcing a shot or trying to draw a penalty, Zhamnov dropped the puck between his legs, looking for a trailer who wasn't there.
"Maybe I can score more if I shoot the puck more," he said. "It's something I have to change this season."
As a Russian-trained center, Zhamnov was taught to concern himself with setting up his linemates before he thought about shooting.
"When I have the puck, I first try to see where my partners are and react off that," he said.
"I just maybe think too much when I have the puck in front of the net."
As for the Roenick comparisons, they have gradually ebbed from Zhamnov's mind. Now in his seventh full season, Zhamnov has been a Blackhawk as long as Roenick was and is the team leader on and off the ice.
"I don't really think about it anymore," he said. "If you think too
much about that, you don't concentrate on your game."
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"