Реклама в Интернет * Все Кулички
июля 2011 года.
From Russia with love: Flyers sign newly wed winger Zherdev // Philadelphia Daily News
It cost him a year in the prime of his NHL career. It probably cost him lots of money. It might have cost him the security of a long-term contract.
But Nikolai Zherdev does not regret the year he just spent playing in Russia.
"I found my wife," he explained.
He was married July 3.
Zherdev, 25, is the latest in a string of intriguing additions to the Flyers. He is a 6-2, 202-pound right wing with a knack for scoring . . . and a reputation for caring about little else. That reputation tempered interest in him after the 2008-09 season, when, despite a strong campaign with the Rangers, he found himself awarded nearly $4 million in arbitration as a restricted free agent.
However, the Rangers deemed that amount too much. They let him walk into free agency, where he found no other takers near that price.
So, Zherdev walked all the way back to Russia, where he played for Atlant Mytishchi, of the Kontinental Hockey League.
The Flyers this month joined a courtship of Zherdev that reportedly included Buffalo, Boston and New Jersey. They came away with Zherdev for one season and $2 million, about half of Zherdev's reported asking price.
Yesterday, he declined to characterize any other offers.
Whoever won the courtship would have landed a player whose training habits, team play and willingness to defend all are considered suspect.
No more, he swore.
"I've changed my style," Zherdev said yesterday in a conference call, speaking through a translator. "I try to play now in the defensive zone. Now, I'm more of a two-way player."
He is a career minus-46.
A change of scenery might change that, and such a change could prove lucrative. This is a leaguewide tryout for a talented young player, and Zherdev knows it.
"I'd like to prove I'm still a good hockey player," Zherdev said. "For me, it will be new. It's a new team, new teammates, a new coach, new organization and a new city."
Surely, the new player will be evaluated quickly by his new coach, Peter Laviolette, who displays little patience for disruptive, unprofessional players unwilling to play hard-nosed hockey.
Neither Laviolette nor general manager Paul Holmgren has commented on Zherdev's character issues, nor addressed Zherdev's shortcomings as a player. Holmgren issued a statement Friday that complimented the skills that led to 99 goals and 239 points in 365 NHL games.
Holmgren did not return a call from the Daily News yesterday.
He's probably busy with his phone and calculator. His team is nearly $2.5 million over the salary cap . They reportedly are shopping forward Simon Gagne, who carries a $5.25 million cap hit.
Zherdev said his puck control and hockey sense - traits that made him the fourth pick of the 2003 draft for Columbus - qualify him as a candidate to serve on the Flyers' power play.
He admitted, however, that scoring 39 points in 52 KHL games did not benefit him at all. He was obviously eager to atone for the year he wasted, eager to remake his reputation and land a long-term deal.
"My goal . . . is to show everybody I'm an NHL player," he said.
And, of course, to take care of his new wife, Evgeney - the best thing, apparently, to come from his year back home.
"I don't really regret my decision. I'm a hockey player. I got a good offer," he explained. "I'm Russian."
Now, he's back. And he's not alone. *