декабря 2000 года.
'Old' Zhitnik returns // Buffalo News
By BUCKY GLEASON News Sports Reporter
WASHINGTON - Alexei Zhitnik swears he has changed little since last
season. He made a couple of minor adjustments with his equipment. He switched
the angle of the blade on his stick and he's wearing different skates.
If hockey were only about sticks and skates, wouldn't everyone play
more like Wayne Gretzky? Sports marketing geniuses have convinced our children
that it's gotta be the shoes, but nobody can snow a $2.5 million defenseman
into thinking the same.
The reasons for Zhitnik's revitalization this season with the Buffalo
Sabres are many, but new equipment is certainly among them. Spending the
offseason clearing his head and attending a full training camp are others.
Restoring confidence that was once shattered is yet another.
"In the offseason, the most part (he realized) is that nothing can
change your past," Zhitnik said Tuesday. "Whatever happens is going to
stay with you for the rest of your life. You can make the future better
or worse for yourself. It's pretty much up to (you). You can go up or down."
Zhitnik's play this season has been up - mainly because his slap shot
has been down. A four-game suspension he received five games into the season
now seems like a lifetime ago. He has played better and with more discipline.
It's no coincidence the Sabres also are better.
Zhitnik has four goals and 15 points going into tonight's game against
the Washington Capitals in the MCI Center (7, Empire, 107.7) to start a
home-and-home series. His goal and point totals have already surpassed
his output from last year. He's on pace for his best season since 1997-98,
when he had 15 goals and 45 points and was touted by some as a Norris Trophy
"When I play good hockey, I feel better about myself," he said. "I
sleep good. My family is good. It's a full package. You don't have to worry
24 hours a day about how you're going to play the next game and whether
you're going to make the playoffs or not."
This is an important season for Zhitnik. His best year was followed
by a seven-goal, 33-point season in 1998-99 and a two-goal, 13-point disaster
last season. The Sabres paid $5 million over those seasons and received
mediocrity in return.
He tested the Sabres' resolve when he decked Montreal's Andrei Markov
with a cheap shot in the fifth game this season and subsequently received
a four-game suspension. The Sabres, it seemed, wanted to grab him, shake
him, find out what he was thinking.
Guess what? So did Zhitnik.
"I was criticizing myself more than anybody else was criticizing me,"
he said. "When you lose $120,000 and the team lost the game because of
you and you got a four-game suspension, I know I did wrong. It would be
different if I didn't do anything wrong and got (grief) for nothing."
Zhitnik might have avoided his other problems during the two previous
seasons had he listened to former assistant coach Mike Ramsey. Ramsey,
now on Minnesota's staff, pleaded with Zhitnik to change the angle on his
stick for the good of his team and the health of his teammates.
Basically, Zhitnik was scooping the puck and turning his stick from
a 3-iron into a 7-iron, causing point shots to sail into anywhere but the
behind the goalie. Often, they landed in corner or in the seats or, in
one case, in Vaclav Varada's ear.
"We tried getting rid of that stick last year, but he was adamant about
keeping it," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Mike Ramsey hated that stick.
When you start toying with guys' equipment, they're not very receptive."
Finally, the defenseman realized that Ramsey was right all along. Zhitnik
is now putting more shots on net, evidenced by his three power-play goals
on a unit that's dramatically improved this season. Buffalo's forwards
also are for battling rebounds more and running for cover less. New skates
also have helped.
"I feel like I have more control," Zhitnik said. "I was skating really
low. When you're standing in the dressing room (and sizing up a stick),
you're standing pretty high. When you're skating, your knees are bent.
It's a little different."
Now that all the adjustments have been made, Zhitnik doesn't want to
change anything. He's 28 and should be in the prime of his career. He's
eligible for arbitration after the season, and could make a good case for
himself with a strong year.
He has all the skills to become a dominant defenseman in this league.
He was on his way two years ago. He still doesn't know how it all fell
apart. Maybe it was the equipment. And maybe it was just him.
"I'm not 20 years old anymore," he said. "Nobody is going to keep me
because I'm a young prospect. I had good years. I had bad years. The most
important when you get older is being consistent. You have to play the
whole season at a high level."
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
16 марта. Житник пропустит все оставшиеся матчи сезона.
9 марта. Алексей Житник: "Меня продают уже два года"
2 марта. This time, Zhitnik hopes trade winds don't
blow him away - Buffalonews.com
4 февраля. Zhitnik deserves high praise - buffalonews.com