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4 февраля 2004 года. 
Zhitnik deserves high praise - buffalonews.com


 Next Tuesday in HSBC Arena, in the first game after the All-Star break, Alexei Zhitnik will become the eighth man to play 700 games in a Sabres' uniform. It's true. He has played more games than Danny Gare or Mike Foligno, more than Rick Martin or Rene Robert.

This is Zhitnik's 10th season in Buffalo. How did he last so long? No Sabre has been ridiculed more mercilessly. He has been blamed for everything but the firehouse closings. It has been easy to rip him, easier yet to take for granted the things he does well.

All he has done, year after year, is be the most durable defenseman on the team, a guy who plays against the top lines and ranks among the league leaders in ice time. At 31, Zhitnik is having one of his best seasons. On a young, injury-riddled defense, he has been a rock of stability, if an underappreciated one.

"Unbelievably so," said veteran defenseman James Patrick. "You hear the public criticism. People wish he did this or that better. That's natural in sports. You can overlook a guy's strengths. "Z' can skate with anyone. He's as strong as anyone in the league. As a defenseman, you have to admire his skills. But I don't think he needs to be a power-play specialist. From what I've seen the last five, six years, that's not his main strength."

But people have always wanted Zhitnik to be an offensive force. When he came into the NHL as a teenager, the native Ukrainian was called the "Russian Bobby Orr." He had the speed, the wicked shot. He averaged 50 points in his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Kings.

Nine years ago this month, the Sabres got him in a trade for Grant Fuhr. In his first game, in the Aud, Zhitnik scored a goal on a dazzling end-to-end rush. He was an offensive star in the making. He never imagined he would evolve into a physical defenseman.

"Not really," Zhitnik said. "But 10 years ago, I was 185 pounds. Now I'm 215. Back then, my favorite defenseman was Ray Bourque, and still is. But over the years, I understood that if you want to play consistently, if you want to play for a long time, you can't just run all over the ice, especially defensively. You have to play smart hockey."

You have to be smart off the ice, too. Zhitnik has always been a strong athlete. But in recent years, he has become more serious about his conditioning. After practice, you'll find him doing extra skating or riding a stationary bike.

"A couple of years ago, a friend of mine told me nobody younger than 32 or 33 ever wins a triathlon," Zhitnik said. "I think when you get older, you lose quickness, but you have more endurance. You can play longer."

A year ago, it looked as if Zhitnik wouldn't play here any longer. He felt the Sabres weren't committed to winning and asked to be traded. But they kept him, and coach Lindy Ruff is glad for it.

"Alexei has played very well," Ruff said. "He has been as mobile as I've seen him, and as accurate with his shot as I've seen in a long time. He's paid a lot of attention to detail, before and after practice, even with the extra skating."

Zhitnik had a rough December. He was minus-11 during the Sabres' seven-game losing streak. But he followed it up by going 12 straight games without a single minus performance. In January, with Patrick and Jay McKee hobbled by injuries, his ice time increased and the
Sabres' performance went up with it.

He can still be maddening at times. You wish he wouldn't miss the net so
often on the power play, or commit the odd dumb penalty. But there must be a reason why Ruff gives Zhitnik far more ice time than any other Sabre.

He's been here for nearly 700 games. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to concede that he's doing something right.

Страничка Алексея Житника на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


21 декабря. Алексей Житник: "Выбрал Ак Барс, потому что не люблю команды, претендующие на вторые роли" // "Спорт-Экспресс"

9 декабря. “Барсы” добавляют в свои ряды Алексея Житника. 

22 сентября. Оригинальный Житник. Знаменитый ветеран во время локаута будет играть в необычной лиге с упрощенными правилами // "Советский Спорт"

1 июля. Житник будет искать счастья на рынке свободных агентов. 

16 марта. Житник пропустит все оставшиеся матчи сезона. 

9 марта. Алексей Житник: "Меня продают уже два года" - Спорт-Экспресс. 

2 марта. This time, Zhitnik hopes trade winds don't blow him away - Buffalonews.com

4 февраля. Zhitnik deserves high praise - buffalonews.com


"ЗВЁЗДЫ С ВОСТОКА" @ c 1997 года