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сентября 2003 года.
Zhamnov: What, me worry? - Chicago Times
BY LEN ZIEHM
Alex Zhamnov ended last season on a down note, and the Blackhawks captain is off to a rocky start in training camp.
A hand injury that sidelined Zhamnov for five games in March was followed by a conviction for driving while intoxicated in April. When Zhamnov reported to camp this month, he had a sore back. He was held out of all training for the first four days, then did only off-ice training the next week.
Medical treatments continue, but Zhamnov went through his second day of skating with his teammates Tuesday at the United Center. While he won't play in tonight's fifth preseason game against the Dallas Stars at the United Center, the veteran center said things are improving.
''I'll be fine,'' he said. ''Don't worry about it.''
Zhamnov said he's not worried, but he's not 100 percent healthy, either.
''I don't really think it will be serious,'' he said Wednesday. ''It's not sore. There's just stiffness, and there's been a lot of improvement every day. I felt a lot better today than yesterday on the ice.''
Coach Brian Sutter isn't sure when Zhamnov will play in a game.
''I haven't thought about it,'' Sutter said. ''He felt good at the skate [Tuesday]. We expected that. It [Zhamnov's slow start in camp] was precautionary more than anything else. We kept him off longer than the doctor said we should. It'll help him more than anything in the long run.''
Ideally, Zhamnov will get in two preseason games before the Oct. 8 regular-season opener against Minnesota. The last two preseason games are on the road -- Oct. 2 against Buffalo in Rochester, N.Y., and Oct. 4 at Dallas. Whether Zhamnov plays in those games depends on how his back responds to treatment and intrasquad training.
With such a young team, the Hawks will need their captain healthy when the regular season starts. Until the hand injury in March, Zhamnov had missed only two of the first 67 games in last year's disappointing season. The Hawks struggled at the center position, however, and two of the four centers who finished the season -- veterans Andrei Nikolishin (traded to Colorado) and Mike Eastwood (unsigned and now with Pittsburgh) -- no longer are on the team.
Instead, the Hawks will be younger at the center spot -- other than the 32-year-old Zhamnov. Tyler Arnason, a member of the NHL all-rookie team last season, will guide the second line. Promising rookie Tuomo Ruutu, who has yet to play an NHL regular-season game, probably will take the third line and Scott Nichol, who played for Calgary last season, the fourth.
Arnason is 24, Ruutu 20 and Nichol 28. Other possibilities who have had their moments in camp are Brett McLean, 25, and Mikhail Yakubov, 21.
''Scotty Nichol's been one of our best players every night,'' Sutter said. ''Of our best players every night [in the first four preseason games], three -- or at least two -- were centermen. We haven't had that since I've been here.''
Last year, Nikolishin and Eastwood were brought in after the season started to overcome the shortcomings of others. That doesn't appear the case with this year's centers.
''Now it's who your centermen are going to play with,'' Sutter said. ''There are some young guys who have had real good camps as wingers. That's the biggest thing now -- who are they going to match up with.''
Zhamnov, who came to the Hawks in the Jeremy Roenick trade with Phoenix in 1996, likes the age change on the team.
''There's a lot of young guys and a lot of enthusiasm,'' he said. ''It'll be very interesting, for sure. When I came here my first year, there were 10 rookies, and we made the playoffs that year.''
That was in 1996-97, when Zhamnov sprained an ankle in the last game
of the regular season and the Hawks were eliminated by Colorado in six
games. They have qualified for postseason play once since then, in 2002,
when they were first-round losers to St. Louis in a five-game series.