Rambler's Top100

3 2002 . 
Wild notes: Zholtok goes from castaway to captain - Minneapolis Star Tribune. 

Tom Jones

EDMONTON, ALBERTA -- Consider the 500-plus players in the NHL two seasons ago. If someone listed the players most likely to become an NHL captain, Sergei Zholtok probably would have had a better chance if the list was alphabetical.

It's not that Zholtok is a bad guy. In fact, he's quite the opposite, with modesty and intelligence to boot. It's just that Zholtok, two years ago, was not from the mold of most captains.

He was an offensive player who wasn't contributing offensively, and defense was a foreign concept to him.

Now, though, after being rescued from the scrap heap by the Wild, Zholtok has developed into a consistent scorer and, get this, a top-notch defensive player. That's a major reason why Wild management, including coach Jacques Lemaire, picked Zholtok to be the team's captain for January.

"He has become a really good defensive player," Lemaire said of Zholtok, who has a plus-1 rating to go along with his six goals and 17 assists. "Usually, I want to get Wes [Walz] out there against the other team's top line. But if it's not Wes, then I want [Zholtok]. And he hasn't lost any of his offense along the way."

Lemaire remembers Zholtok well when both were in the Montreal organization three years ago. Zholtok scored 26 goals for the Canadiens in the 1999-2000 season.

But he scored only five goals for Montreal and Edmonton the next season and came to the Wild for future considerations, which turned out to be only a seventh-round draft pick.

Now he's the captain.

"Before [I was] named, Jim Dowd said, 'They're going to name you captain,' " Zholtok said. "I was like, 'C'mon.' Really, it's a great honor. I can't believe it."

Two years ago, no one would have.

" "

1 . - . 

20 . Zholtok ran out of gas

1 . Zholtok taking advantage of Wild opportunity - Star Tribune


"¨ " @ c 1997