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октября 2008 года.
Zherdev: Hello, Columbus, Ex-Blue Jacket revisits Ohio as true blueshirt // New York Daily News
WHEN THE RANGERS face off against the Blue Jackets tonight, the fans in Columbus will be getting a look at a player who once was a hugely promising future star for their team. For Nikolai Zherdev, it will be a return to the city where his NHL career began with boundless potential, against the team that finally decided to give up on him.
Zherdev is a Ranger now, brought to New York as part of the July 2 trade that sent Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to Columbus. But he started out as the fourth pick in the 2003 draft, touted for his sublime skating and playmaking ability and projected to give the Blue Jackets 40-goal seasons. However, he frustrated coach Ken Hitchcock and the rest of Columbus with erratic play for four years until he was shipped out of town this summer.
Tom Renney said he watched Zherdev play numerous times in what the Ranger coach refers to as "my old job" as a scout, and upon pulling off the trade that brought Zherdev to New York, GM Glen Sather said he had coveted the Ukrainian winger for several years. So as Hitchcock might say, he's the Rangers' problem now.
"I liked it. I played four years with this team, I liked it," Zherdev said of the Blue Jackets. "Just never (found) my game in Columbus."
Zherdev's highs in Columbus were 27 goals in 2005-06 and 61 points last season, but in 282 games with the Blue Jackets he was a combined minus-52 and his lack of defensive reliability didn't fly with Hitchcock. (Asked if he trusts Zherdev defensively, Renney smiled and said, "We're gettin' there.")
In nine games as a Ranger, Zherdev has two goals and three assists and is plus-5 - and he's likely to get new linemates tonight. At yesterday's practice in Greenburgh, he skated alongside Chris Drury and Markus Naslund as Renney hopes Zherdev can be the creative spark to get those two slumping veterans going.
Dan Fritsche, who was ecstatic when he was dealt to the Rangers along with Zherdev, said his teammate "absolutely" could be a 40-goal scorer in the NHL. "He has all the skill in the world, it's just a matter of getting it out of him," Fritsche said. "Sometimes when he's out there, it seems the puck's on a string. It's ridiculous. He can do some pretty cool things with the puck."
Fritsche is an altogether different story: While Zherdev could never quite be at home in Columbus, Fritsche, Ohio born and bred, thinks maybe he was too comfortable there. He still owns a home near the Ohio State University campus, where he lived the last four years with his brother, Tom, a former left wing for the Buckeyes, and his two best friends, who also attended OSU.
"I kind of pretended I just went off to college for a little bit," said the 23-year-old forward, who will play tonight in front of about 15 friends and family members after being a healthy scratch in all but two of the Rangers' games so far. "We had our own little family back in Columbus. So it was nice, but nothing like the big city."
At one point, the two ex-Jackets were asked to compare Columbus to New York.
Zherdev: "Big city. It's same in Moscow, in Russia. Columbus is small. There's more Russians here, Russian people."
Fritsche laughed before he gave his answer: "Uh, have you ever been to Columbus?"